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Ministers endorse continental report on population and development issues in Africa

Ministers and senior government officials-in-charge of population in Africa met in Accra, Ghana, from 4 to 5 October 2018 and endorsed a continental report of the five-year review of the implementation of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPD). 

The AADP, a key framework for addressing population and development issues in Africa, was adopted in October 2013 by Ministers and endorsed by the African Union’s (AU) Executive Council in 2014.  The Declaration provides African-specific guidance on implementation and periodic review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action.  Its rich set of commitments and indicators seeks to simultaneously support Africa’s efforts to harness a demographic dividend, advance human rights and meet sustainable development goals.

The review conference, jointly organised by the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was attended by delegates from 45 African member States.  They deliberated on progress; gaps and challenges; and good practices in implementation of the AADPD. 

Speaking on behalf of the ECA, Ms. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of the Social Development Policy Division, observed that the findings of the regional review showed that beyond the progress achieved during the last five years, many challenges that demand accelerated action to achieve the aspirations of the AADPD still lay ahead.

Mr. Dereje Wordofa, Deputy Executive Director of the UNFPA, said harnessing the demographic dividend required collective efforts, robust national and sub-national data systems, strong partnerships and financing, including domestic and innovative financing with even stronger Government commitment, and engagement with the private sector. 

The AUC Social Affairs Commissioner, Mrs. Amira Elfadil, thanked the ECA, UNFPA and IPPF for the technical and financial support that ensured a successful review process. Forty-nine out of 55 AU member states submitted national reports which had formed a critical basis for the continental review. At the regional policy front she recognised the migration common position and African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as critical instruments that will contribute to harnessing the demographic development for Africa’s development.

In a speech read on his behalf, his Ghana’s Vice President Mr. Mahamudu Bawumia observed that Africa’s growing population was putting pressure on economic development and delivery of social services.  However, he said, it also presented a huge resource for development and an opportunity for increased markets and production.

Africa needs to invest well to reap a dividend from its increasing youth population. He urged governments to invest in projects that create jobs, including making agriculture attractive for young people.

The ministerial meeting was preceded by a civil society organisations forum that was held from 30 September to 01 October 2018 and a meeting of the African Population Experts Committee (APEC) from 2-3 October 2018.

 

Main findings and recommendations of the five- year review of the Addis Ababa Declaration

·       Decline in fertility is not equitably shared across economic strata with high fertility levels remaining among low socio-economic groups.  It is therefore crucial for countries to improve educational levels for those in low socio-economic groups coupled with sex education.

·       There are changing patterns of morbidity and mortality in Africa, with consistent increase in the proportion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This calls for prioritization of prevention and control of NCDs.

·       Poverty has declined overall but trends in wealth inequality are mixed.  Countries need to scale up implementation of macroeconomic and social policies for poverty alleviation and redressing inequality.

·       In many countries the data systems remain poor – civil registration data are limited, surveys and censuses are not conducted on a regular basis.        There is an urgent need to develop & implement plans for vital registration and vital statistics systems promoting electronic data collection.

The AADPD review will contribute to the twenty-five years UN global review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action in 2019.  Most importantly the continental report provides valuable evidence to inform implementation of national population policies and strategies for harnessing the demographic dividend.

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