Demand for Contraception in Sahelian Countries: Are Men's and Women's Expectations Converging?

Selected from Population 2001
Burkina Faso and Mali, Compared to Ghana
By Armelle Andro, Véronique Hertrich, Glenn Robertson


The low level of contraceptive practice in the Sahel countries is often attributed to the deficiencies of family planning services. It is assumed, on the basis of surveys among women, that a demand for contraception exists. This article re-examines the issue of demand for contraception, looking not just at the expectations of women, but also of men and of couples.
The analyses are based on the Demographic and Health Surveys carried out in Burkina Faso (1993) and Mali (1995-1996), with Ghana (1993) being used as a comparison.
The findings point to considerable heterogeneity in the demand for contraception. The demand for family limitation is non-negligible among women, much weaker among men, and almost insignificant among couples. This heterogeneity constitutes an important barrier to the spread of contraception, since men play a decisive role in initiating contraceptive practice. In both Mali and Burkina Faso, the probability of using contraception is chiefly dictated by men’s attitudes, and women’s views count for little. This pattern, however, seems to be changing among the younger generations, where men’s and women’s attitudes are more convergent.

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