Lilongwe’s declaration supports integration of reproductive health, family planning in parliamentary policy processes

Africa Science News

By Sylvester Mpinganjira

Lilongwe Correspondent

Parliamentary Select Committee members on reproductive health, climate change, population from 25 national assemblies in Africa at a meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi have thrown their weight behind calls for ensuring cross-sectoral planning and budget processes in development.

More specifically, the MPs meeting in the side-lines of the ongoing 9th African Population Conference asked their colleagues in various national assemblies around the continent to closely ensure that parliamentary-supported planning and budgetary processes in their countries integrate population, reproductive health, family planning and other cross-cutting issues such as climate change, and gender programmes.

“As MPs, we will ensure that our budgets are aligned with game changer interventions that propel the harnessing of the demographic dividend, with particular focus on human capital development approaches that will further open opportunities for girls and women,” said Hon Dr Ephraim Abel Kayembe, an MP in Malawi and chair of the parliamentary caucus on population, health, environment and sustainable development.

The MPs said adopting cross-sectoral approaches in policy formulation, planning and budgeting promises better outcomes than working in silos. They vowed to take this agenda to their fellow parliamentarians across the continent.

The MPs declaration called for appropriation of more resources for productive sectors including climate-smart agriculture, adoption of advanced technologies and data-driven farm operations, to optimise and improve sustainability in agricultural production and ensure food security.

Speaking at the same venue during the closing ceremony of the meeting, the executive director of the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) urged African governments to shift focus from worrying about population growth but instead make the right investments that could turn their citizens into quality human capital.

Dr Eliya Zulu said, a skilled human resource, combined with vibrant economies that provide mass quality jobs livelihoods, will turn Africa into a formidable geopolitical and economic powerhouse able to drive the realization of the sustainable development aspirations and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

According to Zulu, failure to turn the population into quality human capital and viable market will not only be Africa’s problem but a global community’s problem.

“The international community needs to help Africa mobilize resources of the magnitude mobilised under the marshal plan that helped rebuild Europe after the second world war. This could address pervasive challenges like trade imbalances, exploitation of Africa’s natural resources, pay up for the effects of climate change and environment degradation on the African economies and write off the debilitating domestic debt that is crippling government efforts to provide quality and equitable social services to build productive economies,” he said.

Agreeing with Zulu, Cliff Mpundu, an MP from Zambia in an earlier interview said investments in health, education, skill development, and job creation are crucial in the development of the continent.

“Evidence demonstrate that governments need to link population and development. As things stand now, population, budgeting for development are not linked,” said Mpundu.

Zulu said the 9th APC has infused new energy into the population work and is going to influence approaches countries, researchers and CSOs moving forward.

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