Press Release

Population Programmes Crucial for Eradicating Our Poverty, Poor Countries Say

31 March 2009
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York—The world’s developing countries told a United Nations meeting here on Monday, “the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action is crucial for the eradication of extreme poverty as well as the achievement of the other Millennium Development Goals.”

Speaking as the Group of 77, the developing countries said, “the goals and objectives set out in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action…provide a comprehensive framework for international development.” The Group of 77, comprising some 130 countries and territories, is the largest grouping of developing nations at the United Nations.

The developing countries were speaking at Monday’s opening of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development. The Commission is meeting from 30 March to 3 April to underline the ICPD’s contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“The full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action has a direct impact on the ability to achieve the MDGs linked to health and social and economic outcomes in the areas of children, mothers, HIV/AIDS, gender, poverty and employment,” the developing countries declared. “In the context of population and development, those MDG targets aimed at reducing by half the proportion of people living in poverty by 2015 and at achieving significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020, are even more significant.”

Family planning’s role in poverty reduction was quantified by an Assistant Director of the Population Division of the United Nations, Philip Guest. “Demographic change alone accounted for a 14 per cent reduction of poverty levels in the developing world during 1960-2000 and could produce an additional 14 per cent reduction during 2000-2015.”

Expressing concern that funding for reproductive health and family planning was below target, the developing nations asked donors to increase financial and technical support.

“If not reversed, the low funding for international family planning threatens to derail our collective efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and especially the target under MDG5 on universal access to reproductive health,” warned Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. “Donor assistance for family planning, as a percentage of all population assistance, has decreased from 55 per cent in 1995, totalling $723 million, to a mere 5 per cent in 2007, totalling only $338 million.”

“Today, there are about 200 million women in the developing world with unmet need for effective contraception, and the highest unmet need is in Africa,” said Ms. Obaid. “Now is the time to re-energize voluntary family planning. There is no investment in development that costs so little and brings benefits that are so far-reaching and enormous.”