Family Planning

The Gambia has a youthful population with 42% and 64% of the country’s 1.9 million population below the ages of 15 and 24 years respectively, and young people aged 15-24 years representing 22% of the population. 41% of women aged 20-49 years are married by age 18, indicating a high rate of Child Marriage, with risks of longer lifetime fertility and its consequences on socio-economic development. The Country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 5.6, a Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) of 9% and an unmet need for Family Planning of 24.9%.

The Gambia has a youthful population with 42% and 64% of the country’s 1.9 million population below the ages of 15 and 24 years respectively, and young people aged 15-24 years representing 22% of the population. 41% of women aged 20-49 years are married by age 18, indicating a high rate of Child Marriage, with risks of longer lifetime fertility and its consequences on socio-economic development. The Country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 5.6, a Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) of 9% and an unmet need for Family Planning of 24.9%. As a result of the high fertility, the population is projected to double by 2030.

The youthful nature of the Country’s population, coupled with the low CPR and the high unmet need for Family Planning services and commodities, means that the population will continue to be a dependent one, making it increasingly unlikely to harness the Demographic Dividend in The Gambia.

Additionally, the population growth rate poses a great threat to poverty reduction with larger households (i.e. with more number of persons) and higher poverty rates.

Thus, Family Planning programming can therefore greatly support the country in harnessing the Demographic Dividend and ultimately reducing poverty. A comprehensive Family Planning programme will ensure that every pregnancy is wanted and every child birth safe ultimately reducing the Country’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 433/100,000 by at least 30%.

Male dominance poses a significant barrier to access Family Planning services by women. As such, there is need for greater male involvement in Family Planning. To achieve this, couple counselling can greatly help men understand the benefits of Family Planning for their families including health, economic and educational benefits.

It is important to note that, women especially in rural communities have realised the urgent need to adopt Family Planning practices to ensure healthier families, better incomes and increased education opportunities for their children. It is now pertinent to get men to support women enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights for the benefit of all.