Increasing people’s access to, and use of, family planning services, both generally and in the context of humanitarian emergencies, can reduce suffering and mortality during crises and make them easier to resolve and less likely to emerge in the first place.
This is the conclusion of Population Matters’ recent submission to the House of Commons International Development Committee inquiry on humanitarian emergencies. The submission explains how high fertility rates and population growth are key factors in the onset of humanitarian emergencies, contributing to conflict, famine and the spread of disease.
High fertility rates and population growth can also exacerbate emergencies by increasing the number of people affected, causing higher maternal and infant mortality, inhibiting women’s empowerment and reducing the resources available to alleviate suffering and support recovery. Increased access to family planning services could therefore have a transformative impact on humanitarian crises through its effect on reducing fertility rates and population growth.
Unfortunately, family planning services are often neglected during humanitarian crises, and donor funding for these services is inadequate. Our submission recommends that the UK Department for International Development make increasing access to family planning services a priority, including during humanitarian emergencies, and that it use its influence to encourage other donors to do the same.