Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian women’s fertility rate has decreased to 5.2 children per woman in 2015/16 from 6.2 children per woman in 1991/92, the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey shows.
The survey conducted and released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last week shows a steady decline in fertility among women as years advance. For example, in 1996 it shows 5.8 children, in 1999 (5.6 children), in 2004/05 (5.7 children) and in 2010 (5.4 children).
The survey also found out that rural Mainland Tanzania women had higher fertility rates than their urban counterparts. Rural women have an average of 6 children compared to 3 children among women in urban centres. Women in Zanzibar have an average of 5 children.
“Fertility also varies with education and economic status. A woman with no education has 3 more children than a woman with secondary education. It also decreases as the wealth of the respondent’s household increases,” part of the report reads, adding that women living in poorest households have an average of 7 children compared to 3 children among women living in wealthiest households.
The chief executive officer of the Association of Private Health Facilities in Tanzania (APHFTA), Dr Samweli Ogillo, told The Citizen that the trend would enable the government to control population growth and, therefore, manage the economy more efficiently.
“Tanzania has one of the fastest growing population rates in the world, which is not good for the economy,” he said.
He added: “The trend could also mean that more women are now using family planning methods.”
The report also found out that Tanzanian women began engaging in sex one year before their male counterparts. The median age at first sexual intercourse for women aged 25-49 is 17 years compared to 18 years for men.
Women with secondary or higher education initiate sex more than three years later than women with no education (19 years versus 16 years).
At least 14 per cent of women and 9 per cent of men start sex before 15 years old and 61 per cent of women and 47 per cent of men do so before 18 years olf.
“Women marry two years after sexual initiation at a median age of 19 years. Women from the wealthiest households marry about three years later than women in the poorest households,” the report reads.