Population grows at slowest pace since independence

The slowest population growth has coincided
The slowest population growth has coincided with homes having fewer children. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s population grew at the slowest pace since independence at 2.2 percent to 47.56 million as family planning took root amid higher literacy levels particularly among women and late marriages.

The rate is slower compared to the 2.9 percent growth recorded in both the 2009 and 1999 census with the previous three counts each recording a rise of 3.4 percent.

The slowest population growth since pre-independence census in 1962 has coincided with homes having fewer children.

Official data show Kenya’s household size shrink to 3.9 from 5.1 recorded a decade ago, suggesting households on average are having a child less compared to a decade ago.

Data released yesterday by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed 18 out of the 47 counties had average household size below the national average.


A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report released last year showed Kenya had the least fertility rate in East Africa at 3.65. This contrasts with Tanzania and Uganda at 4.6 and 4.95 respectively.

The report said Kenyan family has 3.65 children adding that about 55 per cent of married women use a modern contraceptive method. The reduced number of children is in contrast with 1970s when a Kenyan woman had an average of more than eight births.

“Today, a woman has an average of just under four births in her lifetime. Greater access to free or low-cost contraception and information about its use are partially credited for the reduction in fertility,” said the UNFPA report.

Lifestyle change and more women attaining degrees and post graduate qualifications ahead of marriage has also influenced the lower population growth.

The top five counties in Kenya with average household size above five have population of below one million, meaning higher fertility rates are mostly in devolved units with fewer people and where resources such as land are not scarce.

Nairobi city had 2.9 members on average while Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Kiambu each had three members per household.

The city’s population beat that of the eight least populated counties- Laikipia, Laikipia, Marsabit, Elgeyo/Marakwet, Tharaka-Nithi, Taita/Taveta, Tana River, Samburu, Isiolo and Lamu--combined

The eight had a combined headcount of 3.79 million.

Only 18 out of the 47 counties had a population above one million. Nairobi city led with 4.39 million followed by Kiambu, Nakuru and Kakamega with 2.41 million, 2.16 million and 1.86 million respectively.