Our planet is home to 6.1 billion people. Our paths may never cross, but we are on a common journey. We all want to lead healthy and satisfying lives and have hope for the future. But chronic poverty and ill health, widespread discrimination, armed conflict and, increasingly, HIV/AIDS, take a heavy toll. Half of all people live on less than $2 a day. Poor people are much more likely to fall sick and live shorter lives. Discrimination against women and girls persists, stunting both individual and national growth. Armed conflict, particularly within countries, continues to rob people of peace and vital services, especially health and education. And now AIDS is destroying decades of progress in many countries, depleting the resources of families and countries alike.

UNFPA's purpose is to help countries solve population problems and meet their social and economic goals. UNFPA plays a leadership role in supporting countries to formulate effective population policies, undertake national censuses and develop and maintain health information systems. We work with governments and other partners to develop policies that address real concerns such as rapid urbanization, HIV/AIDS, poverty, ageing, environmental protection, migration, gender issues, and reproductive health. Our research and participation in conferences and seminars helps advance awareness of key population issues and strategies.

With country offices in 110 nations, UNFPA assists in identifying priorities, developing and managing population programmes and tracking progress. UNFPA's monitoring system includes regular data collection, periodic field visits, yearly project reporting and programme review, and a mid-term review halfway through the country programme cycle to identify weak areas and improve effectiveness.


A Malian mother carries her child. UNFPA is working to help reduce infant and child mortality by two thirds by the year 2010.

Photo: Erik Just, Denmark

Our nine technical support offices – in Addis Ababa, Amman, Bangkok, Bratislava, Dakar, Harare, Mexico City, Kathmandu and Suva – provide professional advice and services to countries in different regions to help them carry out their population plans and build local capacity in such areas as programme evaluation, situation analysis, policy and strategy development, research, training, monitoring, and development of information and education materials.

We also support five training institutes that offer a nine-month diploma in population and development studies. The institutes offer training to local officials to increase their knowledge and skills and build local capacity.