The social and cultural determinants of the fertility rate among Congolese refugee women living in the inner city of Durban, South Africa.
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Population growth is one of the pressing demographic development problems affecting the world. Despite the growing number of people using up-to-date contraceptive methods, countries in the developing world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are still recording a high fertility rate. This study investigated the social and cultural determinants of fertility among Congolese refugee women living in the inner city of Durban, South Africa. The study adopted a qualitative method. Primary and secondary data were gathered and 12 semi-structured interviews were conducted. All interviews were audio-recorded and then transcribed with the participants’ consent. The analysis of data was done using thematic analysis techniques. The study found that the fertility rate among Congolese living in Durban, South Africa, is driven by various factors. Seven themes emerged that illustrated the reasons for the fertility rate among the study group. These were: the economic value attached to having children, gender preference (male child preference), the desire to save a marriage/union, the prestige of motherhood, filling the missing gap/replacing lost family members, fulfilling God’s recommendation to fill the earth, and other biblical reasons, children as social security during old age, and inadequate use of appropriate contraceptive methods. The study also found that gender played a pivotal role in determining fertility in the study group: men viewed themselves as decision-makers and heads of the family. The study findings concur with the previous literature on childbearing among refugee communities in developing countries in particular. The pivotal role of the gender of the couple in determining fertility casts doubt on the reliability of family planning methods that rely exclusively on the usage of contraceptive methods. This work provides essential recommendations on how health care services should be used in order to promote refugees’ well-being in Durban, South Africa.