In the News

Having Many Children Now Mark of Honour Among Somali Refugees

23 August 2011
Author: UNFPA

DADAAB, Kenya —The sun stares down mercilessly at the hundreds of tents as if daring the residents to a never-ending duel.

For the residents of Dadaab refugee camp, it is a duel they have got used to over time.

For new arrivals the blazing sun is nothing compared to their treacherous journey here. Relief is all they feel.

Every day, the numbers swell at the camp that was started about 19 years ago.

Apart from the new arrivals from neighbouring Somalia, there are newborns, arriving faster each day, threatening to overburden the very basic resources. Indeed those born the year the camp was set up are hitting marriage age.

The life cycle goes unaltered due to little intake of family planning. It is normal to encounter a woman in her early thirties with up to 12 children.

She may not know what they will have for supper, but her brood makes her proud — for the children are a proof of her fertility, something that is highly valued here.

According to Bunmi Makinwa, the director of the UNFPA Africa Regional Office, "the problem the people face is bigger than just famine and drought".

"We are doing all we can on the short term but the world needs to think long-term," said Makinwa while on a tour of Dadaab recently.

Read the full story by By Ferdinand Mwongela in the Standard (Kenya)


Population : 53.8 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 49%
Girls 46%

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