By Innocent Anguyo
MARRIED women (aged 15-49 years) are more knowledgeable on both modern and traditional methods of family planning as compared to other women.
Findings of a survey recently released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) reveal that 98.5% of married women across the country have knowledge of contraceptives as compared to 98.2% of other women.
Married women were also more informed on both male and female condoms than their other compatriots. 95.5% of married women knew about male condoms as 94.8% of other women knew of the practice.
However, knowledge on female condoms was relatively low though married women were also found to be more conversant on the contraceptive method. 56.6% married women were aware of female condoms while 54.9% of other women knew of the practice.
Married women were also more knowledgeable on traditional contraceptive methods (80.3%) than their other colleagues (76.4%). Married women also knew more on modern contraceptive methods (98.4%) than their other counterparts (98.1%).
Other contraceptive methods known to Ugandan women were listed as injectables, pills, implants, female sterilisation, IUDs, male sterilisation, LAM, rhythm, withdrawal, foam/jelly, moon beads among others.
Of all the above, pills (93.5%), injectables (94%), male condoms (94.8%) and female sterilisation (76.3%) emerged as most popular among Ugandan women. As to why this was the case, experts said it’s because the above methods are easily available and relatively cheaper on the Ugandan market.
On why married women were more knowledgeable on contraceptive methods, Nobert Andima, a gynaecologist noted that married women were at times influenced by their spouses especially in the usage of male condoms.
“When you are married, you engage in more sex, therefore; you must also know more about how to control pregnancy and go for the best contraceptive method forcing you to learn about a number of contraceptive methods. However, the other women especially those below 15 years of age don’t mind much about contraceptives,” said Andima.
Generally, across the country, findings of the baseline study conducted by UBOS reveals that 98.2% of Ugandan women are knowledgeable on contraceptive methods.
Regionally, women in the central region were more knowledgeable about contraceptive methods (99.2%) followed by Western (98.8%), Eastern (98.6%) and the North came last (96.0%). Experts attributed this disparity in knowledge to the disproportion in access to information and health facilities, literacy levels and level of sensitisation in the respective regions.
The same study discloses that, despite the wide-ranging awareness, sardonically, 61% of married women aged between 15 and 49 years were not using contraceptive methods. The most used method was injectables but the usage was very poor with only 17.5% urban married women using it while only 12.2% of their rural colleagues used it.
The findings of the Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) however noted that women in rural areas had a higher tendency of shunning contraceptives (64.5%) than their urban compatriots (50.2%). John Mucunguzi, a health expert in Kampala attributed the disparity to discrepancy in the level of empowerment between urban and rural women.
“Rural women are less financially, intellectually and civically empowered than their urban colleagues,” reiterated Mucunguzi.
While presenting findings of the study recently, James Muwonge, the Director, Socio-economic surveys at UBOS said the study used the 2005/06 UNHS as the baseline and the findings are based on interviews.
Out of the 7,400 households interviewed during the 2005/06 survey, 3200 households were selected for the panel surveys. As a result, the same sample was maintained in 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 rounds of surveys.
Despite Muwonge saying the report on the study will not be unveiled until next month, nonetheless, the findings (poor usage of contraceptives) paints a lucid picture of what brings about the rapid population growth in the country.
The 2002 Uganda population and Housing Census showed that the country’s population is growing at a rate of 3.2 % per annum. There are currently 35.4 million people in Uganda, according to UBOS’ mid 2013 projections.
According to the 2000/01 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, the total fertility rate in Uganda is 6.2 children per woman. Childbearing in Uganda begins early in Uganda, more than one-third (39%) of women aged 20-49 give birth by the age of 18 years, and about two thirds (63%) by the age of 20 years.
24% of women aged 15-19 years are already mothers or pregnant with their first child, says the Ugandan Demographic Health survey.
Despite being touted by some economic experts as a fuel for rapid economic transformation, some population experts warn that when a population growth rate outstrips rate at which government flags-off basic social services such a power, water, healthcare and education, the high fertility rates are a recipe for disaster.
Not only are Ugandans worried about the country’s population growth rate but international bodies are also monitoring the country’s demographic changes. Within five years from now, the number of Ugandans will exceed 50 million, according to World Bank projections in 2009.
Isaac Wokorach, an economist states that high population growth rates were proving a cross too heavy for Ugandan parents to carry since there were heightened levels of dependency across the country.
Already Ugandans are feeling the real encumber of their high fertility rates since one third of the population is between the ages of one and 11 and cannot engage in income generating activities as it will be regarded child labour.
According to the World Bank, Ugandan workers bear the highest level of dependency in Africa. This compromises their ability to save and invest.
No wonder, a good number of Ugandan parents are reported to be forcing their children to engage in child labouring. At least two million children aged from five to 17 years are engaged in Child Labour, the first Child Labour Report released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistic (UBOS) reveals.
The report establishes that the two million child labourers accounted for 16% of the entire population of 11.5m children in Uganda.
According to the report, child labour is among the major causes of child abuse and exploitation and fundamental violation of children rights. The report further faults child labour for slowing down broader national poverty reduction and development efforts on top of being obstacle to achieving universal education.
“Children who are forced out of school to child labour to help supplement income of their families are denied the opportunity to acquire necessary knowledge and skills to aid them get decent employment in future leading to the poverty cycle,” said the report.
The growing population is already causing a crisis as the available land in some parts of the country will not be able to support the growing number of peasants. A 2011 United Nations study found that 94% of cases before the local council courts in the north are related to land.