Press Release

African Countries Recognize Link Between Population and Development, According to New Findings

24 September 2002
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York - Africa recognizes the close links between population policies and development, according to the recent findings of a panel of eminent persons appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. As a result, many African countries are integrating population factors into the development process to "contain the tremendous strain and stress that a rapid rate of population growth puts on development". This integration is in large part due to the work of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The panel - chaired by Ghana's former finance minister, Kwesi Botchwey - was formed at the General Assembly's request, to evaluate the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s. The New Agenda was adopted by the Assembly in 1991 as a compact between African countries and the international community to promote African economies and enhance their self-reliance.

Africa's campaign to link development and population, says the panel, "included enhancing gender equity and the empowerment of women, and it promoted the reproductive health and rights of women, the newborn and adolescents, including in conflict situations".

The panel notes the proactive role of UNFPA, which was "largely responsible for progress in integrating population issues into the development agenda". In policy terms, the panel states, this meant "reducing maternal and child deaths, providing family planning and, generally, improving the overall standard of living". UNFPA and others, it continues, "addressed a number of issues of relevance to the community: HIV/AIDS, female genital mutilation and girls' education, especially low enrolment and high drop-out rates".

Africa's annual population growth dropped from 3 to 2.45 per cent in the last decade. However, warns the panel, it still has the world's highest population growth rate, which outstrips gross domestic product and growth in food production.

Based on the panel's report, Secretary-General Annan has made proposals to the General Assembly on how the United Nations system can help implement the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), adopted by African leaders as the continent's main development framework. The Assembly starts considering the recommendations today.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance, with programmes in over 140 countries. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided some $5.6 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development.

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031
Email: dungus@unfpa.org

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028
Email: gharzeddine@unfpa.org

Ghana
Population : 31.1 mil
Fertility rate
3.8
Maternal Mortality Ratio
308
Contraceptives prevalence rate
27
Population aged 10-24
30.5%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 57%
Girls 58%

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