World Bank backs contraception, sexual health in Sahel region

Broadening access to contraceptives in Africa’s arid Sahel region and improving women’s sexual health are key parts of a $ 200 million World Bank project in the conservative Muslim region, its coordinator said. The project in Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, and Ivory Coast seeks to boost long-term prosperity by relieving population pressures on an environment stricken by drought, Christophe Lemiere, coordinator of the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographics Project, told Reuters. “That’s where women’s empowerment is kicking in.” The Sahel belt running south of the Sahara has seen water levels per capita drop 40 percent over the last 20 years, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The region is struggling to sustain its fast-growing population, which has the world’s highest fertility rate and has seen its infant mortality rate drop by 25 percent over the last decade.
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