Nigeria strained by rate of births

Officials struggle to rein in growth

LAGOS, Nigeria - In a quarter century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people - a population about as big as that of the United States - will live in a country the size of Arizona and New Mexico. In this commercial hub, where the population has by some estimates nearly doubled over 15 years to 21 million, living standards for many are falling.

Lifelong residents like Peju Taofika and her three granddaughters inhabit a room in a typical apartment block known as a “Face Me, Face You’’ because whole families squeeze into 7-by-11-foot rooms along a narrow corridor. Up to 50 people share a kitchen, toilet, and sink - though the pipes in the neighborhood often no longer carry water.

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