Regarding the Nov. 25 special section “Africa’s rising cities”:

Overpopulation threatens the health, happiness and prosperity of people in African megacities. The special section painted a stark picture of that reality, from the infernal traffic jams to the cramped room-shares to the shantytowns devoid of running water or electricity. Africa is urbanizing, and cities are growing largely because people are moving there from rural areas and other countries. But what keeps the continent’s population growing so rapidly is unsustainably high fertility rates, which, in the countries profiled, range from 3.26 to 5.08 births per woman.

There are an estimated 218 million women in low- and middle-income countries who don’t want to become pregnant but who have an unmet need for modern contraception. An annual investment of $4.80 per capita would meet all women’s sexual and reproductive health needs throughout those nations. Without concerted action to increase voluntary family planning, the nightmare so many people are already experiencing in cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, will only worsen.  

John Seager, Washington

The writer is president
of Population Connection.