Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, December 12, 2011 – The United Nations Fund for Population Activities ( UNFPA ) says many African countries lack adequate disaggregated population data for decision making and planning purposes. UNFPA said at the 6th African Population Conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on 6 December.
Richmond Tiemoko, presenting on behalf of the Director of UNFPA Africa Regional Office, Bunmi Makinwa, praised Burkina Faso for its “consistent efforts to address population issues.
” However, “it is estimated that only half of the African population was enumerated during the 2000 round of population and housing censuses. Even where censuses were conducted, there were many situations that hindered the use of the data, including the late release of results and insufficient in-depth analysis and dissemination.” He called for the democratization of population data.
The celebration of a world of 7 billion, with over a billion from Africa, provides an opportunity to look back, act on the present and think about the future.
“As we, the 7 billion, count on each other, we should take a firm stand to ensure that women and young people do not only count in population data and legal records but they also count on us for the realization of their sexual and reproductive health and rights,” he said.
He cautioned that major challenges remain, particularly in the area of ensuring universal access to reproductive health services.
“Another challenge is inadequate investment in young people, yet we know that social investment in young people’s needs including education, health and employment can lead to sustainable development. As you all know, a youthful population could be an asset with strategic investment but it also has the potential of being a liability,” he said.
Hundreds of population experts, researchers and others from Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe met in the capital city of Burkina Faso for the conference.
The five-day meeting was organized by the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS) and the Government of Burkina Faso, with UNFPA as a major partner. The conference seeks to aid the dissemination and critical evaluation of new research findings on emerging issues on population and their implications for Africa’s socio-economic development initiatives.
Burkina Faso Minister of Secondary and Higher Education, Prof. Albert Ouedraogo, called for the education of young people: “When the youth are well educated, they constitute a source of potential, vitality, innovation and economic growth.”
He shared his government’s concern about the existing gaps to achieve the MDGs, notably MDGs 4 and 5. This conference, held four years before the deadline of 2015 to achieve the MDGs, should come up with lessons for development policies aimed at improving people’s welfare. A paradigm shift is required, he said.
Ms Eliya Zulu, President of UAPS, noted a number of issues that need to be addressed, including the rapid growth of the African population, notably in the fragile Sahel region where the population is expected to treble within the next forty years.
During the week, participants will hold series of plenary sessions geared towards using African population issues for sustainable development, including sexual and reproductive rights; maternal mortality; future of population programmes; international migration and human capital; gender issues including gender-based violence; youth, population and climate change; demographic dividend and MDGs in Africa, and new methodologies of data collection and analysis. UNFPA is to organize a panel on the 2010 round of censuses in Africa.
At the close of the conference, the Ouagadougou Declaration will be issued to serve as a consensus roadmap for the future of African population issues.
The Union for African Population Studies (UAPS) is a pan-African not-for-profit organization established in 1984 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to promote the scientific study of population and the application of research evidence in development planning in Africa.
Individual members of UAPS are scholars and professionals working in the field of population and development in Africa. Membership is also open to research centres, institutions of training, and development partner institutions in and out of Africa.