East Africa: Population growth worries UNFPA
August 14th 2012
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, Janet Jackson is worried about the high population growth in the East African Community (EAC) region saying that this is a threat to the stability of the states. ‘If the number of children in a country grows faster than the possibility to provide for the young generation with necessary schools, health institutions or food, protection and the ability to give meaningful jobs to the young people, the situation of the entire country deteriorates,’ Jackson said. She observed that with high population growth, there is a risk of having a large number of dis-enfranchised, hopeless and unemployed young people which could lead to higher crime rate and unrest in the country. ‘When you have 40% of the population under the age 15, you have high dependence ratio-meaning that the working age population is not able to take care of those who are dependent on them,’ she said. She was speaking during the opening of East Africa regional youth conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.
Jackson noted that the population of the East African Community has risen from 105.8 million to 131.1 million people in 2010. She pointed out that the fertility rates in EAC are still very high with 6.7 children produced per woman for Uganda, 6.2 in Burundi, 5.4 in Tanzania and 4.6 in Kenya and Rwanda. She called upon partner states to invest in the young people through education, provision of employable and entrepreneurial skills, provision of sexual reproductive health information and services and creating equal opportunities for both girls and boys. The UNFPA boss condemned early child marriages saying that it entrenches girls and families into poverty and hinders countries’ path to development.
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