POVERTY, POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Reproductive health services and population strategies help the world achieve development goals. It’s about human rights and individual well-being.
Population size, growth and distribution are closely linked to prospects for economic and social development. Actions in one area reinforce actions in the other. This is the broad view of population articulated at the ICPD and advanced by UNFPA. So interwoven are the issues of population and poverty, and their impact on sustainable development, that UNFPA’s work is tied to every one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, which are the most recent global plan for a better future.
In 2003, UNFPA supported a wide variety of activities in very specific areas — sending emergency supplies to a country in crisis, training peer educators to prevent HIV/AIDS, counting households in a census — yet each example had its place in a much bigger picture. Our support for reproductive health and rights is about human rights and individual well-being.
As UNFPA works to ensure universal access to reproductive health, we also endeavour to make clear the links between population and development.
This is done through advocacy and awareness-raising, and also through support to national planning around population issues such as rapid growth, internal migration, urbanization, ageing and environmental protection. One area of activity, data collection, is particularly important because it provides the information that countries need in order to plan strategies that respond to the dynamic forces of population change. In so many countries, we see how poverty perpetuates poor health, gender inequality and rapid population growth; the links between poverty reduction and population programmes have never been clearer.
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
UNFPA squarely addresses the reproductive issues that will determine success or failure in achieving the MDGs, agreed to by all United Nations Member States. UNFPA does so by implementing the ICPD Programme of Action. The MDGs set targets to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
- National reporting on the MDGs in 2003 was carried out with assistance from almost two thirds of UNFPA country offices, drawing attention to the critical role of population and reproductive health in human development.
- Charts, graphs and maps illustrate key population issues in the UNFPA publication, Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Population and Reproductive Health as Critical Determinants. Starting with an overview of global population, it takes a goal-by-goal look at related population challenges.
UNFPA welcomed numerous declarations of support for the ICPD Programme of Action and recognition of its essential role in achieving the MDGs, issued as part of preparations for the tenth anniversary of the ICPD in 2004. Strong commitment was affirmed by 20 Caribbean countries and territories in a November meeting to assess progress towards achieving the ICPD goals. The Tunis Declaration, agreed to by the Fourth African Population Conference, also pledged support for the ICPD Programme of Action. The UNFPA-supported meeting recognized population programmes as indispensable to poverty reduction and economic development in Africa and fundamental to the attainment of the MDGs. Arab legislators at the Fourth Arab Parliamentarian Forum on Population and Development urged their governments to honour commitments to the ICPD Programme of Action, agreeing in the Rabat Declaration that the lack of funds for population and reproductive health programmes is widening the gap between rich and poor countries and increasing maternal deaths and HIV/AIDS infections.
DATA AND POPULATION STRATEGIES
Accurate data supports effective planning. UNFPA helps countries track and analyse changes in population structure, distribution and size. Gender-sensitive data can link population with other development concerns, helping to inform policy decisions affecting sustainable development and poverty alleviation. UNFPA promotes a common set of gender- sensitive population-based indicators for use in reports on the Millennium Development Goals and in the United Nations common country assessments (CCAs) and, through these instruments, in poverty reduction strategy papers.
- Population data from 171 countries and territories is featured in a UNFPA publication that collects, for the first time, demographic, social and economic indicators describing each country’s population and reproductive health strategies, policies and progress. The online publication is entitled Country Profiles for Population and Reproductive Health: Policy Development and Indicators 2003.
- UNFPA granted its entire printed library collection — some 5,000 books and 200 journals, periodicals and newsletter — to the Institute of Development Research at the Addis Ababa University for use in graduatelevel research and teaching.
- Capacity to track the global flow of resources for HIV/AIDS activities was expanded through a joint initiative of UNFPA, the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
- In 2003, UNFPA distributed new software on CD-ROM to help countries share knowledge that advances development. The portable Knowledge Asset Development System (pKADS) collects, distills and synthesizes lessons learned in a way that will improve results and inform policy and development strategies. It was developed by UNFPA and University College Cork with funding from the Government of Ireland.
Poster Contest Winner
A boy on the verge of manhood considers the reproductive health issues illustrated on a wall mural. The poster by Santi Niumkam of Thailand, who won first place in the age group 16-19, took grand prize in the international poster contest that has been sponsored by UNFPA every year since 1992. Young artists from more than 140 countries submitted artwork in 2003 on the theme of adolescent reproductive health.
A father and his two sons from Egypt, where UNFPA teamed up with the Population Council to examine the linkages between population and poverty.
Photo: Hanley/United Nations
CENSUS DATA FOR PLANNING
UNFPA works with global partners to raise awareness of the importance of data collection in programme planning and provides technical and financial assistance to countries.
- Massive human displacement in Afghanistan is one result of decades of war, ethnic conflict and drought. In January 2003, UNFPA initiated fieldwork for the first stage of a census under the direction of the Afghan Central Statistical Office. By year’s end, households had been counted in 17 of the 32 provinces. The population data will aid logistical planning for upcoming elections and inform development strategies.
- People on the move continue to need reproductive health care, and are often at greater risk of HIV/AIDS. UNFPA strengthened the capacity of countries to formulate migration policies, working through the International Migration Policy Programme with partners including the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the International Labour Organization and the International Organization for Migration.
- UNFPA helped organize the International Expert Group Seminar on Population Census Data Dissemination and Use, which was held in South Africa and attended by experts from 40 countries, primarily from Africa, along with representatives of specialized agencies and donor countries.
- In Cambodia, UNFPA continued to support preparations for the Inter-censal Population Survey, assisting with training of trainers, recruitment, testing and finalizing the questionnaire, and mobilizing resources.
Links between population and poverty alleviation were spelled out in a new UNFPA framework completed in 2003 that will guide future efforts to mainstream population issues and reproductive health within the national poverty reduction strategies of the poorest countries.
- UNFPA assisted the Government of Pakistan in estimating the costs of the population and development strategy in its national poverty reduction strategy paper.
- In Bangladesh, UNFPA organized a high-level policy dialogue on the Pro-poor Health Strategy, working with the Government and the World Bank to find ways to address the country’s widening inequities, which were tied to challenges in rural health care delivery, human resource constraints, management and governance issues and high levels of population growth.
- Investments in reproductive health, including family planning, can help slow population growth and reduce water insecurity, according to a 2003 UNFPA report, Global Population and Water, prepared for the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan.
- UNFPA continued to work with the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population on policy research pertaining to population and poverty, and with the Population Council in an examination of micro-level linkages between population and poverty in Bangladesh and in Egypt.