UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-05: Statement of Kenya, H.E. Prof. George Saitoti



The electronic preparation of this document has been done by the 

Population Information Network(POPIN) of the United Nations Population 

Division in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme 








Your Excellencies,

The Secretary General of this Conference, Dr, Nafis Sadik, Distinguished


Ladies and Gentlemen,

     On Behalf of my delegation and my own Behalf, allow me .to convey

to you, Mr., Chairman, and through you to this conference, the greetings

and best wishes of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya

I also take this opportunity to congratulate the Secretary-General of

the Conference, Dr, Nafis Sadik, and the entire Secretariat, for the

able manner they have managed the Conference preparations, in the  same

vein, I would like to express my profound gratitude and that of my

delegation to the Government and the friendly people of the Arab

Republic of Egypt, for the warm welcome and wonderful hospitality

accorded to us, since our arrival in this historic and beautiful city of


Mr. Chairman,

     The holding of this Conference in Egypt is not only an honour to

this great country and African continent as a whole, but also, the venue

serves appropriately to focus the attention of the world on the enormous

developmental problems afflicting Africa, and the developing countries

in general, This meeting is being held at a time when most African

countries including my country Kenya, are going through various economic

hardships of great magnitudes, Some of these developmental problems such

as deteriorating terms of trade, the balance of payments and domestic

fiscal crises which have been occasioned by these events, have forced

many countries into heavy borrowing, sometimes followed by failure to

service external debts, as well as undertaking onerous but most

necessary, structural adjustment programmes, The short term costs of

these efforts have been high and the timing of the long term benefits

sometimes uncertain, as attested to by the recent reports of

institutions as varied in philosophical perspective as world bank and


     Additional development problems include the shortage of investment

and development capital, unemployment, poverty and environmental

degradation, Not all of these problems necessarily emanate from the

increased numbers of our populations, although they may be marginally

correlated, and therefore their solutions may lie elsewhere, It is my

hope that this Conference will provide us with not only measures of how

to manage our populations beneficially, but ways of meaningfully

developing and transforming our economies, without eroding the ethical

and moral fiber of our societies.

Mr. Chairman,

     The world population is estimated at 5,6 billion, most of these

people live in developing nations. Given the large base, the annual

population increments will continue to be high and are likely to remain

so, for some time in the future.

     However, these international trends should not be a reason for us

to feel pessimistic and discouraged as to the future of our world. While

some of the figures may be discouraging especially for Africa,

significant accomplishments have been recorded in the areas of lowering

birth and death rates, improving the general levels of education and

incomes, including the education and status of women, and more

importantly, positive changes have occured in attitudes greater demand

for family planning information and services at the grass-roots level,

All these accomplishments must have contributed positively towards

slowing down the global population growth rate. However, this should not

give us a reason to be lax but should provide us with the enthusiasm to

work harder towards achieving better results in the future, especially

in areas that registered discouraging results, Mr, Chairman, permit me,

before I turn to other matters before us, to give a short brief on how

my country has performed since the last Conference in 1984,

Mr. Chairman,

     Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Had I been standing here

before this assembly some fifteen years ago, I would have been talking

about a country with the highest rate of population growth in the world

now instead, I can talk of a country well in demographic transition, In

1979, Kenya's population growth rate was estimated at 3,9 per cent, The

total fertility rate was 7,9, It was 5,4 by ,l993, But even this

conceals the full dynamic change, In 1979, total fertility rates in

rural and urban locations were 8.1 and 6.6 respectively. These had, by

1993, decreased to 5.8 and 3.4. Such dramatic changes in such a short

period, truly signal demographic transition. The rate of population

growth is now still quite high at 3,1 per cent but, with the changes

that underlie these fertility rates, our target of 2.5 Per cent by the

year 2000 is highly likely,

     Various factors account for the success in our population

programmes in the 1980's among them the family planning information and

services linked to education and the general improvement in the women

status, enabling women to participate in all aspects of development.

Combined with this has been the use of modern family planning methods,

Contraceptive use has risen from 7 per cent in 1978 to 33 per cent in

1993. Although levels of use only rose moderately over the last four

years, from 27 to 33 Per cent. in 1993 although level of use only rose

moderately over the last four years, from 27 to 33 per cent, there has

been a radical shift in the use of more effective modern contraceptive

methods, these accounted for about two thirds of all family planning in

1989 while at present they account for 84 per cent,

Mr. Chairman,

     The use of modern contraceptives is strongly associated with

higher levels of education, 15 per cent of married women with no formal

education use a modern method, compared to 29 per cent of those with at

least some secondary education. These data provide important evidence

that Kenya's dual investment in girls' education and service delivery,

are having a strong positive influence on fertility decline. The change

in behaviour that underpins the above statistics arises from two major

thrusts in Kenya government social policy. On the one hand, the

improvement in the status of women through improved access to education

while, on the other, improvements in health. At the time of independence

in 1963, two-thirds of the less than 1 per cent had some secondary

education, By 1993 less than 5 per cent had no education and over 20 per

cent had some secondary education, This continuation of schooling has

reduced early marriages. Again, at the time of independence, 45 per cent

of girls in the 15 to 19 year olds bracket were married, Now less than

14 per cent are, A similar dramatic picture can be seen in the 20 to 24

year olds where 87 per cent has been reduced to 54 per cent over the

same time-frame. These changes in the age at marriage which are closely

associated with increase years at school, have given rise to spectacular

decreases in age specific fertility rates, In the 15 years since 1977,

the fertility rate of the 15 to 19 year olds has declined by almost 35

per cent while that for 20 to 24 year olds has fallen by about 25 per



     Besides the impact of education which I have just described, the

improved survival rate of infants due to overall improvement in the

health services have contributed to major changes in fertility

behaviour. Of course, the survival rate is itself correlated to

education. At independence, more than 120 out of every 1000 babies

failed to see their first birthday and 200 did not reach their fifth

birthday. Today, 62 out of every 1000 babies fail to see their first

birthday while 95 do not reach their fifth birthday. The fact of infant

survival in the African culture where breast feeding is most common, has

clearly given rise to a longer spacing between pregnancies, while the

expectation of child survival has significantly affected desired family


     At the helm of the success of the Kena's family planning programme

is the political commitment of the Government, and the untiring crusade

which His Excellency the President, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi has

spearheaded, Over the years, President Moi has taken every opportunity

to impress upon Kenyans the need to have families they can adequately

provide for, lt is clear that the Kenyan people have responded to this

call ,Kenyans are also grateful for the support we have received from

the international community in the provision of family planning


Mr. Chairman

     Regarding Implementation of our population programmes, our

strategy has been decentralization through the utilization of local and

community organizational structures At the same time, the Government

has, over the years, made efforts to put in place the management, co-

ordination and organizational structures for population activities in

both the public and private sectors especially the NGOs Government

support for NGOs through institutional capacity building has enabled

them to perform their work better and more efficiently, But throughout

this support, there remains a serious concern that the gains of

political and economic independence, are not jeopardized by cultural

imports hostile to the values lie espoused in showing off colonial


Mr. Chairman,

     Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like now to turn

to matters of population and development that are ahead of us. One of

the most important factors in the future economic and social development

of Africa and of the developing countries in general, is the rate of

population growth However, bringing down the rate of population growth

is not a sufficient condition, not indeed a necessary one, for

development to occur in the less developed countries, unless other

obstacles to development are simultaneously addressed the scope of

mobilization of population and development calls for a strengthened

partnership between men and women and should go beyond family planning.

In the past, women's role in development has been underplayed, leading

sometimes to denial of their basic rights, This Conference therefore

should not limit the development focus to only the reduction of the

growth of numbers in the developing countries, since this will cause

population programmes to fail to address the aspects of how to improve

the rights and status of women, which we have found to be the first step

towards a successful reduction in fertility in our country, women should

not be viewed as a target of development policy through which population

reduction by a quick and efficient "technological fix", could be


Mr, Chairman,

     The preparatory Conference documents lay considerable stress on

the impact of population growth on ecology as well as sustainable

development, Much of the world's literature in this matter highlights

the adverse implications of population growth on urbanization with

allied increases in pollution, industrialization associated with

development has also been identified as a cause of undermining the

environment, similarly, there is a popular view that population growth

in the rural areas has contributed to environmental degradation and

desertification, while it is true that rapid population growth has

sometimes affected environment and sustainable development negatively,

there are certain characteristics in Kenya which are noteworthy in these

respects, Our country is one of the least urbanized in the world, In

fact, our policy documents have sought to increase urbanisation, while

learning from experience of the rest of the world that Such urbanization

needs to be widely dispersed to be beneficial through economies of scale

and, trivially, it is obvious that cities are wealthier per square

kilometer than farms. Even the so called "bright lights syndrome" that

underlies much urban drift and quest for white collar education,

suggests that real earnings per urban worker are perceived to be higher.

     Similarly, a close look at the population distribution in

developing countries and particularly in Kenya reveals that the rural

districts with the lightest population densities, happens to have higher

per capita incomes, This correlates closely with the distribution of

infrastructure and the access to markets. Even changes in technology in

these areas have been environmentally friendly and more sustainably

productive. Ironically, the sparsely populated areas which happens to be

the marginal lands are the ones experiencing desertification. These

areas definetely require a different type of development policy, perhaps

irrigation, than the densely populated ones. Internationally, observe

that migrations from the developing world, which are important factors

in population dynamics, are usually to cities where there is more

congestion and very high population densities. This tells us that people

are not looking for more space as a top priority, but rather, better

economic opportunities which could guarantee them a better standard of living.

Mr. Chairman,

     Kenya recognizes the economic and environmental benefits that

accrue from long term low population growth rates.  However, we feel

that such low population growth rates should be sustainable through

improved women's health and education which are important factors for

improving acceptance of contraceptive methods. In countries where

primary medical services are poor and illiteracy high, achievement of

low long term population growth rates would only be possible where

uninformed choices are made, death rates are high or down right coercive

practices employed. Kenya does not support coercive population policies

and believes in population programmes that respect peoples' rights, That

is why I would like to disagree with the simplistic argument that

fertility control would solve the "problems" of poverty and

environmental degradation caused by "population growth". The concern of

this view is only the achievement of population targets, and this has

the risk of application of physical, economic or intellectual coercion,

In fact, such coercive policies  which are often very subtle would do

little to improve the quality of life for the poor and women in both

the developed and less developed countries.

     Kenya's population programs will therefore continue to respect

individual rights, religious beliefs, and cultural values. The

Government will however continue to educate the population on the

advantages of small families, while at the same time, improving women's

status and rights including, access to and control of economic and

natural resources, health, and education The Government also recognizes

the importance of a stable family (in the traditional sense) in the

success of the development and any allied population programmes.

     Kenya believes that inordinate liberalism is not in conformity

with our cultural and religious values. However, this should not be

construed to mean that we are against technology ana modernization. it

is only that we are convinced that a stable nation, and a stable world

has to be built by stable families, since these are the basic units in a

nation. We firmly believe that those morals, traditions cultural values

and religious beliefs that in the past have ensured stable Kenyan

families, should continue to be respected and observed.

     We, therefore, do not subscribe to the idea that the youth should

be exposed to a contraceptive mentality, Kenya believes in the dignity

of human life Although we teach a number of topics related to the

biological processes in schools, these must always be complemented with

the utmost respect for the family's ability to inculcate its own

religious and cultural values, It is only in this way that we consider

that independent decisions by individuals can truly be an exercise of

their dignity,

 Mr. Chairman,

      There is much sense in a family having few children that it can

look after each one properly in terms of food, health, education and

potential employment, but I also realise that the world is full of

examples showing that the future is truly unpredictable. Scholars since

Malthus have tirelessly predicted multifarious disaster and mankind's

ingenuity has equally tirelessly circumvented it. In closing, let me

note that the world has experienced a lot of changes since the last

meeting in Mexico, The world has moved beyond the dualism where it was

divided into neat boundaries between East and West and other similar


     The multiple explanations of the relationships between

population,environment and development should not therefore divide us

into debates of North verses South, women verses men, traditional

versus modern and environmental protection verses economic growth, to

name only a few, Instead, we should work towards finding workable

solutions to the developmental problems that afflict the world to the

mutual benefit of mankind, For, after all, the care of the common good-

of all a nation's citizen is the true responsibility of each Government,

Kenya strongly supports the partnership, at an international level

between all those truly seeking for the betterment of mankind.

Mr. Chairman,

      I look forward to constructive deliberations which will enable us

devise workable mechanisms that will make the world, in the 21st century

and beyond, a better place to live in.

Thank You.

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