By Regina Pratt
A report on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) beyond 2014 was last Tuesday presented to implementing partner/ grantees, government representatives and UN agencies at the Bintumai Hotel, Aberdeen, in Freetown.
Component Manager in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Mohamed Lebbie, who deputised the Development Secretary as chair of the event, said the ICPD spans twenty years and that Sierra Leone was a signatory to the development blueprint.
He said the report was a feedback to highlight how far the country has gone since 1994 when the protocol was signed in Cairo, adding that the document is human beings focused, and thus needs to be disseminated to the populace.
UNFPA Country Director, Dr. Barnet Ndyanabangi, in presenting the demographic dividend, said rapid economic growth results to changes in the population structure, such as decrease in fertility and mortality, especially in under-five children.
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He said that Sierra Leone has a rapid growing population.
“The role in accelerating the demographic transition includes youth leadership and participation and girls’ and women’s empowerment,” he said, noting that UNFPA interventions are towards ensuring that “no woman should die while giving life or lose the baby in the process.”
Professor Bob Kandeh, who did a presentation on the UN Secretary-General ICPD beyond 2014 report in the Sierra Leone context, said that the debate on population and development hinge on population size and growth rate, adding that the effect of age structure is also now being considered.
He said the aim of the report was to put Sierra Leone on the map, as 60% of the population are young people while 55% are in the working age group.
He further said since 2007 the country has made few gains, although youths in urban areas, between the ages of 15-24, are ten times more likely to be unemployed than those in the rural areas.
The professor further said that the free healthcare was a huge success, adding that the country has made gains in sexual and reproductive health challenges, including fistula strategic plan, comprehensive condom programme strategic plan and many more initiatives by government.