Uganda takes stock ahead of global summit on population

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Uganda on Wednesday took stock of its 25 year commitment to integrating population issues into development, ahead of World Population Day on Thursday and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) scheduled for later this year in Nairobi, Kenya.

Global leaders, policy makers and experts will meet in Nairobi Nov. 12-14 to renew the commitments they made when they last met at the ICPD in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt.

The leaders then adopted a Program of Action where they set out to foster inclusive growth, empower vulnerable communities and make strategic investment in young people.

Alain Sibenaler, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in Uganda, told people gathered here in the northern Ugandan district of Adjumani to commemorate World Population Day that Uganda has made remarkable progress towards commitments it made at the 1994 ICPD.

“Clearly the situation of women and girls is getting better in the last 25 years. Preventable maternal deaths have declined by 24 percent over the last five years,” Sibenaler said.

“The number of women that are using modern form of contraception in Uganda has increased to almost 40 percent,” he added.

Sibenaler noted that Universal Primary Education is accessible to most children in the country.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in a speech read for him by Vice President Edward Ssekandi, said the country hopes to benefit from the potential of young people to reap the demographic dividend.

Museveni said government is making key investments in energy and transport infrastructure, creating industrial parks and attracting investors.

He said all these are geared toward creating jobs for the youth so that they are not a burden.

Uganda has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world. Figures by the National Population Council (NPC), a state agency that advises the government on population issues, show that the country has a population growth rate of 3.3 percent per annum, making it the third fastest growing population in the world.

The country’s population is projected to reach 75 million by 2040 from the current 40 million people.

Fred Wabwire, chairperson of the NPC, said that although Uganda has made progress towards commitments it made during the 1994 ICPD summit, there are challenges that it is still grappling with.

UNFPA figures show that in Uganda 14 mothers die every day while giving birth. Over the last decade, one out of every four teenage girls between the age of 15-19 years has already given birth or is pregnant with their first child.

Twenty-two percent of girls who dropped out of school did so due to pregnancy related complications.

Sibenaler said that at the ICPD in Nairobi, governments will recommit to young people, women and girls, and how the needs and aspirations of young people can be met.

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