Categories: OPINION

Incentives could encourage pregnancy and boost birth-rate in Taita Taveta


Hon. Alexander Mwangeka during the 101 yrs First Flight celebrations


Following the Maktau celebration of 101 years since the FIRST FLIGHT took off in East Africa, it seems there is a lot to write about.
Despite being a dignitary-filled event, there were definitely a whole lot of moments in which the common mwananchi stole the show,
Meanwhile I would like to switch focus to the moment when pregnant women were called on stage by the Minister for tourism Hon. Alexander Mwangeka and supposedly given or rather promised 1000 shillings for being pregnant.
Over the past few county gatherings, whether official or just simple social gatherings, there has been concerns raised over the fact that the population of TAITA TAVETA is steadily declining. A while back a writer noted the possibilities of the 4 constituencies merging into one, subject to the fact that in the near future the county, generally speaking, may only meet the demographic thresholds required to form just 1 constituency.
The above problem, mainly subjected to poverty levels, has been addressed in different ways, some of them being, building of new and face-lifting the old maternity and health infrastructures.
It hasn’t done much just yet, because the same leaders keep complaining that the maternity units are barely reporting new births/deliveries.
Back to the MAKTAU event, the minister, in a subtle manner, seemed to have offered a solution to this pregnancy and population problem facing the county at large. But I guess not everyone realized.
For me it begged the question: What if the Cash rewards or direct incentives were offered to the pregnant families/women upon getting pregnant and also upon delivery?
Here was the scenario,
He mentioned the low birth rate problem, as any other fellow leaders normally do.
He then asked doubtfully whether there was even a single pregnant woman present
At this point no pregnant woman got on stage
He cont inued to ask for any pregnant woman to step forward, (at this juncture promising THE GOVERNOR’S HANDSHAKE)
A pregnant woman steps forward
Then another …
…and another
The minister then goes ahead and promises an offer of 1000 bob for those who would step forward
Another woman steps forward
The crowd gets excited
Then another who barely seemed pregnant steps forward…
Hon. Mwangeka with his exemplary Mcee skills charges up the crowd
More women step forward.
From those that seemed to have 9month old pregnancies to those that seemed to have just discovered their pregnancy during the event because of the promised money (I mean some pregnancies were hardly visible)
In plain terms, the ultimate turn-up by the pregnant women, was because of the promised money (we are not however certain whether the promise was kept)
The above scenario was a simple proof that proper health/maternity facilities was not a motivation enough to guarantee births. If something extra could be done, and in this case something visible to the layman/woman then we could see a lot of changes in the next few months.
Consider the case of developed countries, where the youth bracket is smaller than the aged bracket. Through acts of parliament and policy making arms, birth rate are encouraged through various forms of incentives and some benefits which spread from conception even through the later life of the children
Apparently, the exact models may not fully be applicable at county level, however a few related policies could be enacted through the county assembly to assist in the same.


Let’s do the math.

You’ll definitely agree with me that whenever leaders question low population or birth rates, there focus is always on that mama mboga who can hardly fend for her family, or some frustrated jobless youth who barely has nothing to take back home, or that hopeless gentleman who routinely drowns his sorrows on the local mbangara brews. Right?
The focus is never really on the upper or middle-class despite their annual turnovers of hundreds of thousands. Because they understand the secret to keeping it 2 or at most 3.
However, regardless of the above, assume the county needs 100 annual births per sub-county. It translates to 400 annual births across the county. Suppose the county sets aside ksh.100, 000 per birth, coupled by free maternity care then it means the county will be spending around 40 million for such a program.
According to the DAILY NATION this morning that is an equivalent to what the county allegedly spends on hospitality/entertainment
Assume the lady or couple gets Kshs. 50,000 for a positive pregnancy test and the other Kshs. 50, 000 after the delivery. I think that’s a reason concrete enough for them to take care of themselves and baby through the first 9 months and also a few months after delivery. Of course they could as well invest it through the period knowing very well that collateral for that money is their own baby…which is definitely another reason for them to use it wisely.
Come to think of the aforementioned focus groups. These are people who hardly make 5,000 a month.
I understand the concept of empowering our people, to achieve considerably good living standards and after which expect them to give birth and raise families  comfortably.


However I also find logic in motivating the people to give birth while empowering them through process. YES!  A direction I would recommend or else we risk formulating more empowerment programs and building facilities for nonexistent people.

This content is credited to the Editorial Board of voi2day. A team that aims to tell stories and run conversations that matter, in the process ,inspiring readers to think differently, at least about this beautiful Town

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