Good news from Africa

This table is drawn from a recent study looking at the fall of mortality in Kenya. It points to a general trend: across Africa, more children are surviving.

Under 5 mortality (per 1000 live births)
Previous studies (1998-2007)

Most recent study (2005-2009)
Benin

160 (2001)

125 (2006)
Ethiopia

166 (2000)

124 (2005)
Ghana

111 (2003)

80 (2008)
Kenya

115 (2003)

74 (2009)
Liberia

110 (2007)

114 (2009)
Madagascar

94 (2004)

72 (2009)
Mali

229 (2001)

191 (2006)
Namibia

62 (2000)

69 (2007)
Niger

274 (1998)

198 (2006)
Nigeria

201 (2003)

157 (2008)
Rwanda

152 (2005)

103 (2008)
Senegal

121 (2005)

85 (2009)
Tanzania

147 (1999)

112 (2005)
Uganda

152 (2001)

128 (2006)
Zambia

168 (2002)

119 (2007)
Zimbabwe

102 (1999)

83 (2006)

Stephen Radelet, in Emerging Africa?, claims that the factors behind this improvement are

  • “more democratic and accountable governments
  • more sensible economic policies,
  • the end of the debt crisis and major changes in relationships with the international community
  • new technologies that are creating new opportunities for business and political accountability, and
  • a new generation of policymakers, activists, and business leaders.”

There are problems – such as the recent (hopefully short term) increase in mortality in Liberia. But the trend is clear, and it is very good news indeed – especially for those who are concerned about population increase, because there is a clear and strong association between infant survival and the number of children a woman must have.