Twin Threats—And Solutions—in Africa's Sahel

Rapid population growth and global warming are combining to dramatically threaten food security in Africa’s Sahel region—but solutions go hand-in-hand, too.
In Niamey, Niger, Sani Ayouba, who founded Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (Young Volunteers for the Environment), has begun to present family planning education as a climate adaptation strategy. Just 5% of Niger’s married women between the ages of 15-49 use modern contraceptives—but 20% reported an unmet desire for family planning, according to a recent survey.
“This is tricky territory,” writes Rachel Mueller. "Some argue that the responsibility to reduce the world’s population for climate reasons shouldn’t fall on countries whose carbon footprint is de minimis, as is Niger’s.”

Yale Climate Connections

The Future of Family Planning

Also zeroing in on that unmet desire for family planning is an editorial by Jose G. Rimon and Amy O. Tsui of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They detail the potential returns for the environment, alongside well-documented health and economic benefits.

The pair cite a Paul Hawken study that estimates that family planning investments will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 60 gigatons through 2050. “Family planning combined with girls' education is considered the most effective means of mitigating climate change,” they argue.
Global Health Science and Practice (editorial)

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