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    037952

    Speech.

    Sadik N

    [Unpublished] 1986. Presented at the All-Africa Parliamentary Conference on Population and Development, Harare, Zimbabwe, May 12-16, 1986. 7 p.

    The Second African Conference on Population and Development, held early in 1984, marked a decisive stage in African thinking about population. During the 12 years between the 1972 and 1984 conferences, African nations learned in detail about their demographic situation and confronted the ever-increasing costs of development and their lack of physical and administrative infrastructure. In the midst of these and other concerns came the drought, which for over a decade in some parts of the continent has reduced rainfall, dried up rivers, lakes, and wells, and forced millions into flight. It is in this context that population became an African issue. African countries on the whole are not densely populated nor do they yet have very large concentrations in cities. Yet, population emerges as more than a matter of numbers, and there are features which give governments cause for concern. First, the population of most African countries, and of the continent as a whole, is growing rapidly and could double itself in under 25 years. Second, mortality among mothers and children is very high. Third, life expectancy generally is lower in African than in other developing countries. Fourth, urbanization is sufficiently rapid to put more than half of Africa in cities by 2020 and 1/3 of the urban population in giant cities of over 4 million people. The 1984 conference recognized these and other uncomfortable facts and their implications for the future, and agreed that attention to population was an essential part of African development strategy. Strategy is considered in terms of the 4 issues mentioned. First, high rates of growth are not in themselves a problem, but they mean a very high proportion of dependent children in the population. About 45% of Africa's population is under age 14 and will remain at this level until the early years of the 21st century. Meeting the needs of so many children and young adults taxes the ability of every African nation, regardless of how rapidly its economy may expand. Understanding this, a growing number of African leaders call for slower growth in order to achieve a balance in the future between population and the resources available for development. Reducing mortality requires innovation. Among the new approaches to health care are the use of traditional medicine and practitioners in conjunction with modern science and the mobilization of community groups for preventive care and self-help. Health care and better nutrition also are keys to improvement in life expectancy and call for ingenuity and innovation on the part of African governments and communities. Part of the solution to the impending urban crisis must be attention to the viability of the rural sector. The role of the UN Fund for Population Activities in addressing the identified issues is reviewed.
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