Kenya’s estimated birth rate is falling gradually while the population is getting slightly older, a NationNewsplex analysis of demographic data has revealed.

In the six years to 2016, all the 47 counties recorded a decline in their estimated birth rates even as Kajiado County maintained its top ranking the whole time.

With 59 estimated births for every 1,000 people, Kajiado’s birth rate is almost triple that of the county with the lowest rate, Kirinyaga, which has 21 births per 1,000 people.

In second place is Nyamira with 53 births per 1,000 people, followed by Bungoma (52.9), Kericho (51.4) and Migori (51.2). The top 10 also include Homa Bay (48), Narok (47.9), Turkana (47.6), Samburu (45) and Siaya (44).

Second from the rear after Kirinyaga is neighbouring Murang’a (22), followed by Busia (29), Nairobi (30) and Lamu (30.1).

A woman in North Eastern on average has six children, the highest by region.

Nationwide, the estimated births per 1,000 people plunged from 43 births in 2011 to 32 births, according to data from the statistical abstracts 2015 and 2017. Thirty nine counties recorded a birth rate higher than the national average.

Kajiado’s birth rate is double the national average. Kirinyaga’s dipped by almost a quarter, the biggest drop. It was followed by Nairobi (18 per cent) and Machakos (16 per cent).

Kirinyaga’s birth rate is declining five times faster than the counties that recorded the least decrease. They are Marsabit, Kitui, Isiolo, Makueni and Tharaka Nthi, which registered the lowest percentage fall of four per cent.

Young nation

Figures from the latest Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) reveal that more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Kenyans are below age 35, a two percentage point drop from 2005. The number of Kenyans under 19 also reduced by three percentage points to 52 per cent over the same period.

The largest proportion of the population is in the five to nine years age group, which accounted for 14.4 per cent of the total population. The second largest group are those in the 0-4 years age group (13.4). In 2005, the reverse was true with those in age group 0-4 years contributing the largest share at 14.6 per cent followed by those in the 5-9 age group making up 14.5 per cent of the population. Those over the age of 64 account for about four per cent of the total population the same share as in 2005. The distribution by age depicts a youthful population, albeit one that is slowly growing older, in conformity with the population structure in developing countries.

A Kenyan woman gives birth to an average of four children, with rural women having at least one child more than their urban counterparts, according to the Kenya Demographics and Health Survey 2014. This is a drop from five children per woman in 2003. The number is higher than the global average of two children but lower than Africa’s average of five children.

Kenya’s fertility rate is the lowest in East Africa (3.9), followed by Rwanda (4.2), then Tanzania (5.2), Uganda (5.4) and Burundi (5.5).

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