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Mchinji District in population boom

Mchinji District’s population may double in the next 12 years if families do not adopt family planning methods, research findings show.

The district’s population is pegged at 655,430, according to the National Statistical Office, but findings of the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) 2015- 16 and Rapid projections for 2018 indicate that it may rise to one million by 2030.

MDHS indicates that one out of three girls aged between 15 and 19 years has a child while the school dropout rate due to pregnancy is at 23 percent.

Population and Development for Health Policy Plus Organisation Technical Adviser, Luka Nyirongo, warns that the trend may negatively affect the district’s ability to meet basic needs.

“Rapid population growth comes with a lot of challenges, challenges that will not only affect Mchinji District but the nation at large. Formulating policies and programmes to help Malawians access voluntary family planning services and meet their reproductive intentions will help decrease the fertility rate and slow population growth,” Nyirongo said.

Mchinji Director of Planning and Development, Raphael Munthali, said the council would, in collaboration with stakeholders, work out mechanisms for dealing with the situation.

Munthali said one of the strategies would be to involve young people, observing that they are often left out when it comes to issues of family planning and sexual reproductive health.

“We are aware of the alarming rate at which young girls are getting pregnant annually, which is leading to “unsustainable” population growth,” Munthali said.

According to MDHS, Malawi’s total fertility rate is at 4.4 births per woman. It indicates that, on average, couples want between three and four children.

It further indicates that one in five married women, and two in five sexually active unmarried women, have an unmet need for family planning.

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