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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


The population growth rate is reaching an astounding level in Tanzania and Eastern Africa. It is applying increasing pressure on things like social services, land availability, job opportunities, conservation and localized resources. This study looks at the perceptions of both men and women surrounding social and environmental factors contributing to the high population growth rate. It looks more specifically at factors including childbearing, birth control methods and their effectiveness, and how the birth rate correlates with changing quality of life. This study was conducted in Kizanda Village in the West Usambara Mountains of Northern Tanzania, a region following the trend of a high population growth rate as well as a recent introduction to Western birth control. This study took place from April 5th to April 23rd, 2014. Semi-structured interviews (n = 102) resulted in evidence of high use of local methods of birth control but also an increase in the use of Western birth control over the course of the last generation. It demonstrated an inverse relationship between increasing hardship in the region and the number of desired children. However, in post-menopausal individuals, the number of kids had was higher (6.5 kids) than the number of kids desired (5.3 kids) on average. The primary reason for why individuals were having unplanned pregnancies was said to be due to unreliable local methods of birth control caused by high frequency of method violation by men and an inability of women to combat this trend. However, there was a consensus amongst nearly all individuals that through increased education, the use of Western birth control will increase, allowing for a greater ability of couples to stick to the desired number of children agreed upon. Overall, the study suggests that the high population growth rate is rooted in the intensely patriarchal Tanzanian culture that creates a low agency of women. This deeply engrained cultural structure cannot be changed at the rate required by the rising pressures created by the increasing population, such that a focus on the transition to Western contraceptives is a strong intermediate solution.


African Studies | Growth and Development | Natural Resources and Conservation | Social Welfare | Sustainability



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