Re: The Deluge Facing Africa’s Leaders Is Going to Get Worse

Written by Marian Starkey | Published: August 15, 2023

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece that touches on the peace and security risks of rapidly growing populations in the Sahel region of Africa. We sent a letter to the editor but did not receive a response, so we are featuring our reply below.

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Dear Editor,

Alex de Waal was right to delve into the demographic challenges faced by Sahelian countries in “The Deluge Facing Africa’s Leaders Is Going to Get Worse.” Rapid population growth in countries already struggling with safety and security and suffering under climate change is destabilizing or even calamitous, as we’re now seeing in Niger—the nation with the world’s highest fertility.

Mr. de Waal says the U.S. and its allies should “lead the way in creating the wider economic conditions for countries to be able to meet their citizens’ legitimate demands.” President Biden is trying to do that by increasing U.S. investment in international family planning programs from $607.5 million to $657.5 million in 2024. Empowering the 218 million women in the developing world who have an unmet need for contraception to plan their pregnancies and births would almost certainly lead to smaller families and slower population growth, in turn reducing pressure on governments and regional natural resources. Unfortunately, the U.S. House has other ideas—that body’s budget slashes international family planning by nearly $150 million.

Marian Starkey, VP for Communications