Vol. 2, No. 1
January 1995

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FAX: 251 1 51 30 36


1. African Population Commission, Realizes a Long Time Aspiration

2. Functions and Responsibilities of the African Population Commission

3. Highest Organ of the OAU Commits Itself to Population and Development Policy in Africa

4. Council of Ministers Urges Member States to Establish and Strengthen National Population Commissions

5. International Population Conference Adopts a Programme of Action

6. 1994 World Population Day Observed at OAU Headquarters

7. New Director for Africa Division at UNFPA

8. Report of the OAU Secretary General to 60th Session of the Council of Ministers on Population and Development Policies in Africa

9. Introductory Statement on Population and Development Policy in Africa

10. Statement of the Chairman of the African Population Commission

11. Statement of Dr. Nafis Sadik

12. Tunis Declaration on Population and Development in Africa

13. African Population Perspective: Objectives and Actions

14. Population and the Natural Environment

15. The Food Crisis in Africa

16. UNFPA Offices in Africa


1. Fully integrating population concerns into development strategies, planning, decision making and resource allocation at all levels with the aim of improving the quality of life;

2. Reinforcing efforts to slow population growth, to reduce poverty, to achieve economic progress, to improve environmental protection and to reduce unsustainable production and consumption;

3. Advancing gender equality, equity and empowerment of women in all spheres of life and ensuring women's ability to control their own fertility;

4. Encouraging family - sensitive policies related to housing, work, health, social security, marriage and education, taking into account the importance of families as the basic building block of societies;

5. Facilitating the demographic transition and stabilization of population as soon as possible in countries where there is an imbalance between the demographic rates on one hand and the socio- economic and environmental goals on the other;

6. Providing and expanding good-quality family planning services in the context of a comprehensive reproductive health care;

7. Controlling the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and reducing the need for abortion through provision of ready access to reliable information and expanded family planning services;

8. Fostering a more balanced distribution of population by reducing urban-rural inequality, encouraging environmentally sustainable development of rural areas and small and medium sized cities, and better managing cities to improve the quality of life of the urban poor;

9. Promoting peace and security as well as stimulating sustainable economic growth with equity and job creation development strategies in order to reduce the need for international migration;

10. Mounting and expanding public education campaign on population and development issues, including responsible parenthood, safe motherhood, reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health and family planning, patterns of discrimination against girls and women, gender equity, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, responsible sexual behavior, teenage pregnancy, aging populations and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption;

11. Facilitating improved collection, analysis and dissemination of data on various aspects of population for policy options;

12. Encouraging governments, parliamentarians, concerned groups and individuals to initiate the fomulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national population and development strategies;

13. Significantly mobilizing additional financial resources from donor countries and agencies for national population programmes in support of sustainable development, including reproductive health and family planning programmes;

14. Fostering an effective partnership between national governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in population and development activities; and

15. Assisting in the creation of appropriate national follow-ups, accountability and monitoring mechanisms in partnership with NGOs, community groups, representatives of the media, the academic community, and parliamentarians for a successful implementation of national population and development policies.


The purpose of the OAU Population Newsletter is to provide a forum for exchange of views on latest developments in the field of population and policy options in Africa. Accordingly, some topical issus were included in the previous issues of the NEWSLETTER. Likewise, this issue has covered the formation and responsibilities of the African Population Commission, the Declaration of the 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Population and Development in Africa, population related statements made at the OAU Summit in Tunis, the proceedings and outcome of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Cairo and various articles on population and development.

It is important to underline here that contribution of articles is most welcome from the population institutions of the OAU Member States, training and research centres as well as from interested individuals. It is also important to note that all articles may be freely reproduced. The publisher would be grateful for a copy of the article reproduced.


The long awaited African Population Commission was established in May 1994. The Inaugural Meeting of the Commission, organized and serviced jointly by the OAU, ECA, ADB and UNFPA, was held from 16 to 18 May of the same year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Inaugural Meeting was attended by the delegations of 48 OAU Member States as well as the representatives of the UNHCR, UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, USAID, World Bank, Holy See, Norway, Indonesia and NGOs operating in Ethiopia.

The meeting was opened with official statements from the Representatives of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, the OAU, UN-ECA, ADB, UNFPA and Indonesia.

On behalf of the Government of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Duri Mohammed, Minister of National Planning, welcomed participants to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and to the Inaugural Meeting of the African Population Commission. He then stated that population issues posed a challenge to development endeavours in Africa, as manifested by the high population growth rates which surpassed output growth rates. As a result of this situation, there were food shortages, environmental degradation, and an exodus of people from rural areas to urban centres. Furthermore, Africa's rapid population growth rate had resulted in a small proportion of people with access to safewater, health services and educational facilities.

In view of the serious consequences of the population growth rate in Africa, he proposed that pragmatic measures should be taken in order to restore balance between population and development potential. He then observed that the African Population Commission could immensely contribute towards the realization of collective aspirations of the African people for a better life. The Minister further noted that the Commission should be able to overcome problems created by pronatalist views and traditional cultural settings through consistent efforts, dynamism and strengthening of international cooperation.

In his opening statement, H.E. Ambassador Brownson Dede, Assistant Secretary General of the OAU in charge of Department of Economic Development and Cooperation, noted that, for the first time African countries had come together to establish a continental body, namely, the African Population Commission, which aimed not only at coordinating population activities in Africa, but also at establishing a sense of direction and allowing Africa to speak with one voice at international fora. He said also that the Commission would provide a continental forum where Africans could update their knowledge on new developments in the field of population and development.

Regarding the implications of the prevailing demographic situation in Africa to the African people's development aspirations, he said that the combined effect of high fertility rate and rapid population growth, large proportion of youth, exodus of people from rural to urban areas and the consequent rapid urbanization constituted a daunting challenge to development endeavours and the well-being of the African peoples. He, however, cautioned that addressing rapid population growth alone was not a panacea for all of Africa's problems, although the solution of the African population problem could provide a breathing space for African governments to close the gap in food requirements and provide for the basic needs of the people. He also underlined that demographic challenges could only be met through a comprehensive development strategy that took population variables into consideration on the basis of the recommendations of the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration.

In conclusion, Ambassador Dede urged the Member States to attend the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in September 1994,to support the common Africa position as articulated in the Dakar/NGOR Declaration and to pay particular attention to the Draft Declaration on African Population and Development which was expected to be endorsed by the Thirtieth Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity. He also seized the opportunity to express his appreciation and support to the people and Government of Egypt for offering to host the ICPD and called upon African countries to lend support to the Arab Republic of Egypt in this endeavour.

In his opening statement, H.E. Mr. Layashi Yaker, the UN Under Secretary General and the Executive Secretary of the ECA emphasized that the principle of establishing the Population Commission and said it was in itself commendable and important for Africa, so far the Commission would serve as a forum where views could be exchanged on complex issues regarding the relationship between population and development. He said that the initiative to create the Commission was endorsed by the Twenty-ninth session of the Conference of Ministers of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The Executive Secretary also recalled the pioneering role played by the ECA in the field of population, with the assistance of UNFPA, which consisted in sensitizing African governments and promoting population policies. The adoption by African governments of the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action in 1984 and the 1992 Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development was a clear proof of the achievements made in the field of population. ECA activities in the population field encompassed all the aspects of demographic issues, ranging from data collection and analysis to policy evaluation and follow-up, training, research and advisory services Mr. Yaker stated. He informed the meeting that the current phase was essentially devoted to the assistance to be provided to Member States for the implementation of the relevant recommendations contained in the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration.

He informed the meeting that the ECA established a Committee to follow-up the implementation of the Dakar/NGOR Declaration whose objectives was to promote the contribution of all development partners. He also said that he looked forward to the consolidation of this commitment backed by policies and to the harmonization of the activities of the Population Commission with those of the follow-up committee in order to better rationalize efforts and enhance the chances of attaining the objectives that African governments had set for themselves.

The Executive Secretary called on the Population Commission to pay special attention to the pressing problems confronting people who were victims of natural and man-made disasters.

Speaking on behalf of the African Development Bank, Mr. I.U. IHEME, Resident Representative of the ADB, Addis Ababa Office, expressed his pleasure to see the establishment of the African Population Commission and described it as yet another big achievement in the implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action, the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community and other related declarations.

He stated that population and development were intimately linked and that Africa's high population growth rate was partly accountable to the poor economic, social and political condition that prevailed in the Continent. He pointed out that this fact had been appreciated by many African countries which had then come to consider the population variable as a determinant rather than a neutral factor in development planning.

He then reiterated ADB's identification with the aspirations of the African countries by adopting a population policy which addressed the critical issues of human resources development, institutional capacity building and voluntarism in the adoption of modern family planning methods. He pointed out that the Bank had redefined population issues in the area of development where it cross-linked with issues such as environment, women-in-development and poverty alleviation which was being incorporated into its lending programme.

The ADB Representative then expressed ADB's readiness to enhance cooperation with OAU, ECA, UNFPA, other bodies as well as with the new Commission in addressing African population issues.

In his statement, Mr. Lamine N'Diaye, Former Director of Africa Division, UNFPA, stated that the Inaugural Session of the African Population Commission reflected an awareness of the links existing between population and development.

He reviewed the main problems connected with the African Population, which included food, energy, and employment. He then pointed out that the different programmes such as the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration showed that the effects of unprecedented population dynamism were better grasped than ever before.

He then urged the African Population Commission to properly brief the African delegations to the Cairo Conference and to contribute effectively to the drafting and adoption of resolutions in favour of Africa.

The representative of the Government of Indonesia, Professor Santoso S. HAMIJOYO expressed his thanks to the organizers of the Conference for giving him the opportunity to address it as a representative of his Government which is serving as the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Professor Santoso then briefed the meeting about the Indonesian experience in the field of population, in general, and family planning, in particular, in the hope that the African Population Commission may benefit from it. He stated that only through a broad national consensus, and a strong political support on the part of the Government that Indonesia was able to implement its large-scale population programme in the past two and a half decades. He further emphasized the importance of the educational programme which went from the top to grassroots to facilitate the implementation of the Indonesian family planning programme. In this regard, he highlighted the necessity of popular participation not only for the implementation of a population programme but also for any development programme.

He then informed the meeting that the efforts of his country in the field of population had resulted in social consciousness which took into account not only the function of the family but also other functions ranging from socialization of children to security. He further expressed the will of Indonesia to share the details of its experience with African countries as well as the importance of the South-South and South-North cooperation in the field of population and development.

Finally, the representative of Indonesia welcomed the creation of the African Population Commission which would serve as an important facilitator for the sharing of experiences. He suggested that a mechanism should be created to ensure that the ideas agreed upon at the meetings of the Commission would be operationalized.

Following the opening ceremony the meeting elected a bureau consisting of Nigeria Chairman, Ethiopia - 1st Vice-chairman, Cameroon - 2nd Vice-chairman, Swaziland - 3rd Vice-Chairman and Tunisia - Rapporteur.

Furthermore, the meeting considered three basic papers, the first of which concerned the demographic situation in Africa and its implications to the social and economic development of Africa. The second paper dealt with the evolution of African population policies since 1971, whereas the third one was concerned with the future population perspectives in Africa, intended to give the participants a view of the way forward about population and development orientation.

The meeting was also briefed on the preparation for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) scheduled for Cairo from 5-13 September 1994. It was reported that preparatory activities at the national level were carried out by the national preparatory committees and that those activities were marked by the preparation of the report on population issues in the country.

The other important work of the meeting included the adoption of the Rules of Procedure of the African Population Commission and the draft Tunis Declaration on Population and Development in Africa. The latter was intended for endorsement by the OAU Summit of the African Heads of State and Government in Tunis in June 1994.

The establishment of the African Population Commission was on the basis of the recommendations of Africa's Priority Programme for Economic Recovery (APPER) and resolution CM/Res.1122 of the 46th Ordinary Session of the OAU Council of Ministers which authorized the OAU Secretary General to convene, as soon as possible, the first meeting of the continental body.

The African Population Commission is charged, among other things, with the responsibilities and duties of providing policy support and leadership to the OAU, UN-ECA and ADB Secretariats in the field of population and development with a view to promoting the necessary environment to enable these organizations to play a catalytic role in the field; coordinating and/or assisting the activities of national population commissions and/or analogous national institutions; enhancing the level of awareness on and commitment to population and development issues among Member States, assisting them to formulate and implement population policies and programmes; and to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the resolutions and declarations collectively adopted by African countries with a view to charting new strategies to deal with current and pressing population issues in Africa.

The Commission meets every two years and is serviced by the Joint OAU/ECA/ADB Secretariat, the OAU Secretariat being the lead organization and coordinator of the Joint Secretariat.

The Inaugural Meeting of the African Population Commission was proceeded by the meeting of Experts which took place in Addis Ababa from 21 to 23rd March 1994. The Meeting of Experts worked on the agenda, the programme and background papers on population and development in Africa and the draft rules of procedure of the Commission as part of the preparatory activities leading to the Inaugural Meeting of the African Population Commission.


Within the framework of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity and pursuant to the Lagos Plan of Action and the Final Act of Lagos, Africa's Priority Programme for Economic Recovery, Resolution CM/Res.1122 of 46th Session of the OAU Council of Ministers and the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, the Commission is charged with all matters affecting Member States in the field of population and development. In particular, it is assigned the task of:

(a) Providing policy support and leadership to the Organization of African Unity/African Economic Community (OAU/AEC), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank (ADB) Secretariats in the field of population and development with a view to promoting the necessary environment to enable these organizations play a catalytic role in this field;

(b) Coordinating the activities of National Population Commissions, and/or analogous national institutions and organizations.

(c) Bringing about, developing and promoting cooperation among African countries in the fields of population and development;

(d) Ensuring the mobilization of the necessary resources for the support of population activity in Africa. Promoting a common African position in population and development matters at international population conferences, UN organizations and other inter-regional fora.

(e) Enhancing the level of awareness on and commitment to population and development issues among Member States and assisting them formulating and implementing population policies and programmes.

(f) Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the resolutions and declarations collectively adopted by African countries with a view to charting new strategies to deal with current and pressing population issues in Africa;

(g) Encouraging an effective partnership between governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in carrying out activities in population and development matters;

(h) Carrying out any other activities that may be assigned to it by Member States, the Permanent Steering Committee, the OAU Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC), the Council of Ministers and the Assembly of Heads of State and Government;


The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity has once more committed itself to population and development policy in Africa with a view to restoring sustained and sustainable socio-economic development in the continent. The commitment of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the highest political organ of the OAU, was pronounced at its Thirtieth Ordinary Session, in Tunis, Tunisia from 13 to 15 June 1994 by adopting the Tunis Declaration on Population and Development in Africa.

Before adopting the document, the OAU Summit, reviewed the past, present and future demographic trends in Africa and their implications on socio-economic development in the region. In particular, the Summit took note of the intricate inter-play between demographic trends, environment and sustainable development. It also noted with concern that the economies of African countries have been stagnating and declining, making Africa the most economically under-developed continent in the world.

The Tunis Declaration on Population and Development in Africa, endorses the Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development and affirms that it is an indispensable population and development strategy which will take Africa to the end of this century and beyond. Further more, the Declaration recognizes population as an important component of national planning and urges Member States to formulate and implement explicit population policies that take into account the questions of women and youth. With respect to financial resources, the declaration calls upon Member States to increase regular budgets for the implementation of national population policies and programmes and appeals to the International Community to respond positively and increasingly for population assistance and activities.

Other important areas on which the Summit pronounced itself included the establishment of the African Population Commission and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) due to take place in Cairo, Egypt from 5 to 13 September 1994. The Summit also requested the Secretary General of the OAU to monitor developments in population activities in Africa and to submit periodic reports to the OAU Council of Ministers and to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in collaboration with the Executive Secretary of the ECA.

The Thirtieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government provided a unique forum where population was specifically discussed for the first time in the history of the OAU.


The OAU Council of Ministers has called upon the OAU Member States to establish national population commissions, where they do not exist, and to strengthen technical cooperation relations with African regional and sub-regional organizations dealing with population and development problems. The call was made at its Sixtieth Session which took place in Tunis, Tunisia from 6 to 12 June 1994.

In its Resolution on the Activities of the OAU General Secretariat in the Field of Population and Development Policy in Africa, the Council of Ministers also requested the OAU Secretary General in collaboration with relevant African and international population institutions, to mobilize financial and technical assistance from international organizations dealing with population and development for the attainment of the objectives set for the African Population Commission as well as to report regularly to the Council of Ministers on the activities of the Member States in population and development policy programmes.

The pronouncement of the OAU Council of Ministers just followed the establishment of the African Population Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 16th May 1994.

Before adopting the Resolution, the Council considered, the statement made by Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of UNFPA and Secretary-General of the ICPD, reports by the OAU Secretary General on population and development policy in Africa and the Chairman of the African Population Commission. The report of the OAU Secretary General was introduced to the Council by Ambassador B.N. Dede, Assistant Secretary General in charge of the Department of Economic Development and Cooperation.

In his report, the Chairman of the African Population Commission, informed the Council the need to redress the problem of imbalance between population and available resources in Africa.


The long awaited and the most widely talked about International Population Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) concluded its historic parley by adopting a Programme of Action that would serve the world as an indispensable reference framework for the next 20 years in the field of population and development strategies. It took place in Cairo, Egypt from 5-13 September 1994.

The ICPD was attended by 183 out of the 191 UN-Member States, 1500 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the OAU, the UN- specialized agencies and a large number of news media. Various reports put the number of the participants at 10,757.

The OAU Delegation was led by H.E. Ambassador Brownson Dede, Assistant Secretary General of the OAU. In addressing the Plenary Ambassador Dede said that the Conference provided an invaluable opportunity to assess past achievements and failures in order to devise a new development strategy based on the experiences that have been accumulated during the last twenty years since the World Population Conference in Bucharest, 1974. In particular, he underlined that the Conference was of great importance to Africa in view of the fact that it offered a golden opportunity for Africans to explain their population and development problems and to appeal to the international community for a closer cooperation in regional and national endeavours to restore sustainable development in Africa.

In assessing the population situation in Africa, Ambassador Dede pointed out that the extreme demographic trends and their consequent impacts have not improved much, despite the adoption of various regional and national development strategies. Such a situation, he said, called for an increased involvement of the OAU governing organs which have opted for the broader scope of activities in the field of population and development policy. In this connection, Ambassador Dede mentioned the establishment of the African Population Commission and the Tunis Declaration of the 30th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on Population and Development in Africa, the creation and strengthening of Population and Women's Units in the Secretariat, and the inclusion of population issues in the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community as some of the important activities undertaken by the OAU. Finally, he called upon the donor countries and agencies to consider Africa a priority region and accordingly increase their financial assistance to population and development activities in the region.

The ICPD conducted its deliberations at three organs, namely the Plenary, the Main Committee and the Credentials Committee. The Plenary was an assembly of heads of delegations where the official opening and closing ceremonies of the Conference took place and official statements were made. The Credential Committee was in charge of assessing the credentials of various institutions, associations, groups and NGOs to be represented at the ICPD. On the other hand, the Main Committee was the technical arm of the Conference, charged with the heavy responsibility of making the principles, objectives, goals and concepts of the draft Programme of Action acceptable to all negotiating parties. It was chaired by Dr. Fred Sai, a senior Population advisor to the Government of Ghana and President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

The other important feature of the ICPD was the NGO Forum 94, that discussed the role of NGOs in population development programmes, and particularly the empowerment of women. The forum further promoted the images of NGOs thereby ensuring their place in the UN system and increased their bargaining power with governments.

The 97 page Programme of Action, that was adopted by the ICPD after nine days of tough negotiations, consisted of 16 chapters, namely:

Chapter I Preamble;

Chapter II Principles;

Chapter III Interrelationships between Population, Sustained Economic Growth and Sustainable Development;

Chapter IV Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women;

Chapter V The Family, Its roles, rights, Composition and Structure;

Chapter VI Population Growth and Structure;

Chapter VII Reproduction Rights and Reproductive Health;

Chapter VIII Health, Morbidity and Mortality

Chapter IX Population distribution, Urbanization and Internal Migration;

Chapter X International Migration;

Chapter XI Population Development and Education;

Chapter XII Technology, Research and Development;

Chapter XIII National Action;

Chapt.XIV International Cooperation;

Chapter XV Partnership with the Non-Governmental Sector; and

Chapt. XVI Follow-up to the Conference.

Heated debates and protracted negotiations on the contents and working of the draft Programme of Action took place at the Main Committee. The major focal points of the debates that took most of the Conference time included the concepts of family, marriage and other unions; contraception, abortion, fertility regulation; the rights of couples and individuals to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination coercion and discrimination, pregnancy termination; family planning; safe motherhood; sexual reproductive rights; sexual reproductive health programmes; gender equality; family reunification for international migrants; and the proportion of funds to be generated from domestic and external sources for the implementation of the Programme of Action. Of all issues, concepts that were related to sexual health, reproductive rights, family planning, contraception and abortion were the most controversial issues. In fact, abortion turned out to be the main concern of the conference, although it was presented as a serious social problem and not as a solution to the challenge posed by the prevailing demographic pressure.

Most of the controversial concepts and issues were found in chapters VII and VIII. Chapter VII recognizes the fundamental rights of individual and couples to enjoy sexuality and reproduction as well as their rights to reproductive health care which embraces family planning, IEC services, prenatal care, safe delivery, pregnancy termination, post-natal care and abortion. On the other hand, Chapter VIII underlines the need to improve the health situation of the world population and reduce morbidity and mortality.

The major contending parties were the Holy See, the Carribean and the Latin American States as well as the rightwing Islamic group on one side versus the developed world and Group 77 (G77) including China and Africa on the other side. The Vatican and Her associates were opposed to anything related to sexual and reproductive concepts, abortion, pregnancy termination, family planning and safe motherhood, promoted and supported by the developed world and G77. Later on, splits occurred within the camps themselves. The rightwing Islamic group refused to recognize gender equality and empowerment of women and failed to get the support of the Vatican. Similarly, the developed world came into clash with G77 in general and Africa in particular, when speardheaded by the European Union, it rejected the principle of family reunification for the international migrant and the proportion of financial resources to be raised from internal and external sources for the implementation of the Programme of Action. The developed world insisted that it would contribute only upto one third of the financial requirements for population activities in the developing countries that would be obliged to raise the rest from domestic sources.

The stubbornness of the Holy See angered many delegates and groups, who referred to her attempts as religious imperialism. Fed- up with the exasperating persistence of the Holy See with regard to abortion, African countries complained that Cairo failed to address the real subject of the Conference on Population and Development. Consequently, they issued a memorandum urging the Conference to stop being carried away with semantic, political and ideological controversies and focus on the real issues of development. In this regard, they found themselves lining up with Western and East block countries. Concerned that the Conference was being sidetracked by the abortion issue, upset members of the Women's Caucus, also said "Women are being held hostage by the Vatican, which should not be considered the only source of Catholic values". Similarly, they said that women should appropriate the right to interpret the text of the Holy Koran.

After intensive lobbying, the debate came to an end on 12th September by replacing the controversial concepts with acceptable expressions and by putting some conditionalities which state that the implementation of the Programme would take into account national laws as well as religious and cultural values of the society concerned.

The amended Programme of Action was finally submitted by the Main Committee to the Plenary for endorsement on 13th September 1994. Accordingly, the Plenary endorsed the document by consensus and announced the end of the Conference after recommending the document to the UN-General Assembly for subsequent endorsement at its 49th Session and expressing its deep appreciation to the Government and people of Egypt for hosting and facilitating the ICPD.

In her closing statement, Dr. Nafis Sadik, Secretary General of the ICPD and Executive Director of UNFPA, described the Programme as specific in its objectives; precise in its recommendations and transparent in its methodology. Referring to the protracted debates and a series of amendments that went on for more than a week, she said, "Our chopping and stitching has produced a coat of many colours; but it is a garment that will fit us all". Finally, Dr. Sadik called on all the participants to do every thing possible to implement the recommendations of the Programme.

Perhaps, it is important to mention here that OAU, in cooperation with UN-ECA, played a key role to assist the African Group in identifying and defending its collective interests at the Conference. To this effect, the OAU and ECA produced four briefing notes and organized at least three meetings of the Group. Subsequently, they crafted a memorandum, that called upon the Conference to give priority to the issues of population and development. In return, the African Group appreciated the role played by the OAU and ECA and requested them to play a more catalytic role at future conferences.


The World Population Day was observed at the OAU General Secretariat on 11th July 1994 with a public gathering that was attended by the OAU Staff as well as the representatives of the Host Country, African Embassies in Ethiopia, UN-ECA, UNFPA, and UNFPA/CST. The meeting was chaired by Representative of the Tunisian Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Speaking on behalf of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, Dr. Negussie Teferra, Head of the National Office of Population in the Prime Minister's Office, informed the meeting that the 1994 World Population Day coincided with the First Anniversary of the Official Launching of the National Population Policy of Ethiopia. Dr. Negussie said that the National Population Policy was the result of the realization by the Transitional Government that with a larger size and higher rate of growth of population the goal of fulfillment of basic needs and improvement of the quality of life of people would remain unachieved.

As regards the objective of the policy, Dr. Negussie underlined that, with some specific goals, the policy aims at harmonizing the rate of population growth and the capacity of the country for development and rational utilization of natural resources for the welfare of the population. It was also reported that the implementation of the programmes was taking place at grassroots level and that all restrictions against the participation of NGOs in population and family planning activities, were removed.

Taking the floor next, was H.E. Ambassador A. Haggag, Assistant Secretary General of the OAU in charge of Finance, read to the meeting the statement of H.E. Dr. Salim A. Salim, Secretary General of the OAU, who could not be present due to other unavoidable preoccupation. Ambassador Haggag then went on and said that the occasion provided an opportunity to review the prevailing population trends and their impact on different aspects of human life and the natural environment; to assess the failures and achievements of the existing population policies and programmes; as well as to exchange information and experiences in the field of population.

Turning to the extreme features of the African population, Ambassador Haggag underlined that they entail the creation of new jobs, production of enough food, provision of clean water and health services, construction of new schools, publication of enough text books and preparation of additional teachers, thus affecting the production, distribution and consumption processes as well as the quality of life.

In conclusion, Ambassador Haggag informed the meeting that the need to address the population issue in the regional and local context, was the main reason behind the establishment of the African Population Commission and called upon the OAU Member States to make the necessary preparation to participate in the Cairo Conference.

Representing the ECA, Mr. A. Bahri also addressed the meeting and underlined that the prevailing demographic situation in general, the population growth rate in particular, constitute a major challenge to socio-economic development in Africa. Subsequently, Mr. Bahri referred to the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action for African Population and Self Development and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development as Africa's common population and development strategy, the implementation of which needs serious and consistent efforts by African countries themselves and the international community as well.

On behalf of the UNFPA, Dr. Rogelio Ferdandez-Castilla, UNFPA Country Director to Ethiopia and Liaison Officer with the OAU, said that the world celebrates this year's World Population Day looking forward to the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, that should bring about renewed commitment from the world community to achieve a more balanced population growth and sustainable development centered around people and individual freedom. Dr. Fernandez-Castilla, in particular, expressed his confidence that broad consensus will extend without restrictions to enhancing individual choice in matters of reproduction and national efforts and international support to make family planning services universally accessible, since they can substantially reduce maternal mortality, enhance infant and child survival, drastically reduce the number of abortions and improve the health status of women.

The commemorative meeting was organized by the OAU in close cooperation with the ECA and UNFPA.


Madame Marie Angelique Savane has been appointed the Director of Africa Division at UNFPA Headquarters in New York, succeeding Mr. Lamine N'Diaye who has retired on pension. The appointment became effective immediately after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994.

In her capacity as the Director of Africa Division, Madame Savane would coordinate and supervise all UNFPA activities in Africa, including the OAU/UNFPA Population Project. Africa is a priority region for UNFPA. Some sources indicate that of the 58 priority countries, 35 are in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, UNFPA financial assistances, have grown from US$ 22 million in 1986 to an estimated US$ 41 million in 1993.

The primary objective of UNFPA's assistance in Africa is to improve the understanding of population issues and strengthen government capacity to undertake policies.

Prior to the current post, Madame Savane was the Director of the UNFPA Country Support Team (UNFPA/CST) based in Dakar, Senegal, providing Technical Support Services (TSS) as backstopping to the Francophone countries in Western Africa in dealing with their population problems. She represented Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of UNFPA at the "Seminar on Population and Development in Africa", 29th September 1993, Addis Ababa, organized by OAU in close collaboration with UN-ECA, ADB and UNFPA Country Office - Ethiopia for Addis Ababa based African Ambassadors, Representatives of International Organizations and OAU Staff. In her opening statement Madame Savane appreciated the increasing involvement of OAU in population matters, as rapid population growth presents a challenge to African countries which in the face of economic and other difficulties, must provide health care, housing, schooling, employment, food security etc for increasing numbers of people.

The Research, Planning and Population Division within EDECO Department of OAU would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Madame Savane on her new appointment and wish her successes in all her endeavours.


I. The Basic Issues: Population Growth and the Quality of Life

In recent years, an increasing number of African people are being added every year. This was not always the case: these population increases are unprecedented in history. But the problem of population is not simply a problem of numbers. It is a problem of human welfare and of development. Rapid population growth can have serious consequences for the well-being of humanity worldwide. If development entails the improvement in people's level of living - their incomes, health, education, and general well-being - and if it also encompasses their self-esteem, respect, dignity, and freedom of choice, then the really important question about population growth is: how does the contemporary population situation in many African countries contribute to or detract from their chances of realizing the goals of development, not only for the current generation but also for the future generations? Conversely, how does development affect population growth?

The major issues relating to this basic question are the following:

(1) The improvement in the level of living: Will African countries be capable of improving the levels of living for their people with the current and anticipated levels of population growth? To what extent does rapid population increase make it more difficult to provide essential social services including, housing, transport, sanitation, and security?

(2) Increase in labour forces and the problem of unemployment: How will African countries be able to cope with the vast increases in their labour forces over the coming decades? Will employment opportunities be plentiful or will it be a major achievement just to keep unemployment levels from rising?

(3) The problem of poverty alleviation: What are the implications of higher population growth rates among the world's poor for their chances of overcoming the human misery of absolute poverty? Will world food supply and its distribution be sufficient not only to meet the anticipated population increase in the coming decades but also to improve nutritional levels to the point where all humans can have an adequate diet?

(4) Improvement in health and education: Given the anticipated- population growth, will African countries be able to extend the coverage and improve the quality of their health and educational systems so that everyone can at least have the chance to secure adequate health care and a basic education?

(5) Poverty and the Freedom of choice: To what extent are the low levels of living an important factor in limiting the freedom of parents to choose a desired family size? Is there a relationship between poverty and family size?

In view of the above questions, it is important to frame the population issue not simply in terms of numbers, or densities, or rates, or movements but with full consideration of the qualities of human life: prosperity in place of poverty, education in place of deterioration, full opportunities for the next generations of children in place of current limitations. Population trends, if favourable, open man's options and enlarge his choices. Thus, population policy is not an end, but only a means to better life. This is what the concern about population is about, or ought to be.

II. Africa's Demographic Features

Over the last one century, Africa's population has grown rapidly and at a rapid rate. The various estimates of the population size of Africa indicate that, prior to 1900, the annual growth rate of population was less than 0.1 per cent; during the period 1900-1950, it was 1.2 per cent; in the period 1950-1970, the growth rate was estimated at 2.8 per cent; in the period 1980-1990, the rate was about 3.2 per cent. These data show that the recent demographic trends in Africa are characterized not only by unprecedented rapid growth rates, but also by the associated youthful age composition.

Africa faces a major population explosion in the near future. Africa's population which was estimated at 257 million in 1960 had increased to 482 million by 1983. In 1993, the population of the continent was estimated at 682 million. The average annual growth rate during the decade was 3.2 per cent - the highest among Third World regions. In 1983, the ECA, using high variant assumptions, projected that total African population will be about 1.1 billion by 2008, taking an annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent during the 25-year period (1983-2008). The associated numbers of urban dwellers will be 472 million; children (0-14), 479 million; active population (15-64), 546 million; and school age 178 million (primary), 152 million (secondary), and 124 million (tertiary).

Even under the medium variant of the population projections by the ECA, a 2.8 per cent annual growth would bring the total population to 997 million by the year 2008 instead of 1.1 billion based on high variant assumptions. Thus, the prospects of a new and better demographic setting that will not bring about unsustainable pressures and tensions but will rather ensure the progress and prosperity of all African countries seem rather remote during the next 14 years, as drastic structural changes in the demographic situation take a long time.

III. Consequences of Rapid Population Growth in Africa.

The costs of rapid population growth are cumulative: more births today make the task of showing population growth later difficult, as today's children become tomorrow's parents. In general, food supplies and agricultural production must be greatly increased to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, this limits the allocation of resources to other economic and social sectors. Secondly, the rapid increase in population means that there will be an increase in the dependency ratio. This implies that the country concerned will have to allocate increasing resources to feed, clothe, house and educate the youthful component of the population which consumes but does not produce goods and services. Thirdly, a rapidly growing population has serious implications for the provision of productive employment. Since the rapid population growth is normally accompanied by a proportionate increase in the supply of the labour force, it means that the rate of job creation should match the rate of supply of the labour force. In Africa, the rate of labour force supply has outstripped that of job creation, implying that the rates of unemployment and underemployment have been increasing rapidly. In other words, the number of people seeking employment increases more rapidly than the number of available jobs. This kind of situation poses a menacing problem for society.

When an ever-growing number of workers cannot be absorbed in the modern economic sectors of the African countries, the workers are forced either into unproductive service occupations or back into the traditional section with its low productivity and low subsistence wage levels. This large supply for cheap labour tends to hold back technological change, and industrialization is slowed by mass poverty which in turn reduces the demand for manufactured goods. The end results are low saving rates and low labour skills, both of which inhibit the full development and utilization of natural resources in some African countries. In other countries, the growing population would outrun the levels at which renewable resources could be sustained, and the resource base would deteriorate. Thus, widespread poverty, low labour productivity, the growing demand for food and slow industrialization distort and degrade the international trade of African countries.

Rapid population growth rates also have ramifications for political and social conflicts among different ethnic, religious, linguistic and social groups. As population grows rapidly, there will be increasing demands for governmental services in health, education, welfare and other functions. Although there is no evidence that rapid population growth is by itself the cause of or even the major contributing factor in violence aggression, the large proportions of young people, particularly those unemployed or have little hope for a satisfactory future, might form disruptive and potentially explosive political force.

The cost, adequacy and nature of health and welfare services might be affected by rapid population growth in much the same way as are those of educational services. In the individual family, maternal death and illness might be increased by high fertility, early and frequent pregnancies, and the necessity of caring for excessive numbers of children. It should also be noted that the physical and mental development of children are often retarded in large families because of inadequate nutrition and the prevalence of diseases associated with poverty, and also because the children are deprived of sufficient adult contact.

Another major consequence of rapid Africa's population growth is the phenomenal growth rate of urban populations. Due to an increase in the total population, the Africa's urban population will reach 377 million and 1,271 million levels for the years 2000 and 2025, respectively. Without adequate provision of housing facilities, the rapid population growth rate will result in poor and crowded housing in the urban slums of the rapidly growing cities, and this could also produce further social problems.

Rapid urbanization has also caused stresses in many African economies. Africa is still very largely rural and agricultural, as some 75% of all Africans live outside cities and towns. Nevertheless, during the past generation, urbanization has increased at an alarming pace. More than 42% of all urban-dwelling Sub-Saharan Africans now reside in cities of more than 500,000 population, compared with only 8% in 1960. In fact, there were only two cities in the continent with populations exceeding 500,000 in 1960. If recent trends should continue, Africa will have 60 cities with population of more than 1,000,000 by the year 2000 as against 19 cities in 1993. It should be noted that in 1950, only Cairo had a population of more than 1,000,000 in the entire African continent.

This rapid urban population growth has been caused by factors such as prospects for more jobs, access to education, medical treatment, and the general attractions of urban lives. Many migrants to the cities, however, have discovered that their prospects are not significantly improved by relocation, and unemployment and underemployment are rampant in every major city in Africa. Increases in population cause a number of serious problems. With an average annual growth rate in agriculture of about 2.5% , self-sufficiency in food production becomes a more elusive goal. Additionally, high population growth puts pressures on the soil by decreasing the time it is allowed to lay fallow; pastures land declines and the result is over grazing, which in turn causes increased friction between farmers and herders.

It is important to emphasize that the foregoing consequences of a rapidly growing population are likely to be realized in Africa regardless of whether measures are taken to influence the future trends in the growth components of the continent's population. This will be the case because even the current growth rate of 3.2 per cent is still very high. The good news is that Africa's population growth is now a matter of concern to many African governments. This is exemplified by the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action adopted in 1984 and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration adopted in 1992. These two policy positions called for effective programmes to reduce the future trends of these growth components.

IV. Policy Implications of the Rapid Population Growth.

Hence demographic factors will constitute a daunting challenge for Africa in the years ahead as the race between population economic growth will intensify during the remainder of the century and the first decade of the next. How can Africa cope? How can it produce enough food for an additional 15 to 20 million people per year when it is unable to feed its present population?

In a continent which has been continuously plagued by open unemployment and underemployment since independence and before, and whose unemployment problems have recently been aggravated by worsening climatic, agricultural and overall socio-economic conditions in the rural subsistence sector, how can it be expected to create 200,000,000 addition productive jobs more than 10,000,000 annually - between now and the year 2000?

Can Africa provide primary education to 137,000,000 children that will require it in the year 2000? This is more than two and a half times the primary school age population in 1990. Can Africa provide secondary education for the 70,000,000 that will require it by the end of the century? and with a projected urban population of 472,000,000 in the year 2008, how can Africa hope to cope with the accompanying fast expansion in urban services like water and sewerage, transport, health and housing? How will this massive urban population be fed and clothed?

These demographic phenomena constitute the heart of the African development problem. These are the data that lead most analysts to project a continuing and deepening crisis in Africa. There is no doubt about the imperative and urgent need for a far reaching population policy. Given the rapid rate of population growth, Africa urgently needs a green revolution, if it is not to continue to be plagued by hunger and famine, and if its poverty is not to persist. There is no other way in which Africa will be able to feed its projected total population of 1.1 billion and an urban population of 472,000,000 by the next 15 years.

V. The Evolving Attitude of African Countries Towards Rapid Population Growth.

It is important to point out that, since independence, the attitude of African governments on population growth has been evolving over time. Until fairly recently, most African governments did not view rapid population growth as a matter for concern. When the First African Population Conference was held in 1971, there was little concern among African governments with the issue of rapid population growth rate. The rates were increasing only slowly at about 2.5 per cent, and was at par with that of South-East Asia and Latin America. The population growth rates were viewed as a problem to be solved by government action in only very few African states. In fact, many African political leaders argued in favour of more rapid population growth, to provide an increased number of inhabitants to serve as factors of production and consumption, that is, to increase the country's ability to produce more and to increase aggregate demand.

However, the attitude towards rapid population growth has been reversed in many African countries. During the past ten years or so, a succession of African countries have realized that their resources cannot service the vast and expanding population. Today, many African governments view their population as increasing too rapidly. These views were first crystallized during the Second African Population Conference held in Arusha, Tanzania, and echoed by the African Governments in their statements at the International Conference on Population held in Mexico City, Mexico, in the same year. The Third African Population Conference held in Dakar, Senegal, in December 1992, adopted the Dakar/NGOR Declaration which epitomizes the seriousness with which African countries have taken the population variable in their development equation. It is expected that many more African countries will participate at the Third International Conference on Population scheduled for Cairo, Egypt, in September 1994, and that they will express their population and development policies at the Conference, taking into consideration the Dakar/NGOR Declaration.

VI. The Role of the OAU in the Field of Population and Development.

Within the framework of the implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action, the Final Act of Lagos and the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, the OAU governing organs have called for a broader scope of activities in the field of population and development policy. The Secretariat focusses on (a) increasing and promoting awareness of Member States on population and development issues; (b) encouraging issuance of official government pronouncements on population issues; (c) encouraging and promoting the establishment of appropriate high-level political institutions at the national level for the establishment of national population commissions; (d) preparing and assisting Member States to implement the various protocols provided for under the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community; (e) working closely with other institutions such as the ECA, ADB, UNFPA in promoting appropriate population policies and programmes among Member States. At the continental level, the African Population Commission has been established to provide high-level political back stopping to population activities and to coordinate national activities.

VII. Conclusion

To the extent that population variables influence development and are also influenced by them, the theme of this analysis is that if Africa is to effect changes in the critical growth components of their populations (especially fertility) consistent with the recommendations of the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action and the Dakar/NGOR Declaration, and ultimately effect a marked reduction in Africa's population growth rate, then a viable population policy for the constituent states should be one that integrates the foregoing suggestions into their development plans.


Mr. Chairman

Honorable Ministers

Your Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The agenda item which is before the Council for discussion is contained in document CM/1837 (LX) entitled Report of the Secretary-General on Population and Development Policy in Africa.

The document presents an outline of the major issues concerning population and development policy in our continent. As you are aware, in recent years, there has been an increasing number of African people every year. In 1960 Africa's population was estimated at 257 million; it increased to 682 million in 1993, and it is growing at 3.1 per cent annually. But the problem of population is not simply a problem of numbers. It is a critical problem of human welfare and of development, Indeed, rapid population growth can have serious consequences for the well-being of African people.


The following issues are of critical significance to the African people. The first challenge concerns the improvement in the level of living of the people. Given that the present low standard of living of the African people, will African countries be able to improve their levels of living, if the current and anticipated population trend continues? To what extent does rapid population growth make it more difficult to provide essential social services such as housing, transportation, sanitation, education, water and security?

The second issue pertains to the increase in labour force and the problem of unemployment. As you all know, unemployment is a major problem in all African countries. How will African countries be able to cope with the vast increases in their labour forces over the coming decades?

Poverty alleviation is the third problem area. At the present time poverty, both relative and absolute, is rampant in African societies. With this current population growth, how will African countries tackle the scourge of poverty?

The fourth question relates to the improvement in health and education. It is well-known that the indices for health and education are very low and are even deteriorating in many African countries. The situation has been aggravated by the present economic reforms currently undertaken by African countries. Given the anticipated population growth, how will African countries be able to extend the coverage and improve the quality of their health and educational systems so that everyone can at least have the chance to secure adequate health care and as basic education?

Finally, there is the question of the relationship between poverty and family size given the prevailing poverty in African societies, how can African parents determine the size of their families?

In view of the above questions, it is important to frame the population issues not simply in terms of numbers, or densities, but with full consideration of the quality of human life: prosperity in place of poverty, education in place of ignorance, health in place of illness and death, environmental beauty in place of deterioration, full opportunities for the next generations of our children in place of current limitations. Population trends, if favourable, open man's options and enlarge his choices. Thus, population policy is not an end, but only a means to better life. This is what the concern about population is about, or ought to be.


Within the framework of the implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action and the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community as well as the Council of Ministers' Resolution CM/Res.1122, the OAU policy organs have called for a broader scope of activities in the field of population and development policy. The Secretariat focuses on:

a) Increasing and promoting awareness of Member States in population and development issues;

b) Encouraging issuance of official government pronouncements on population issues;

c) Encouraging and promoting the establishment of national population commissions;

d) Preparing and assisting Member States to implement the various protocols provided for under the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community;

e) Working closely with other institutions such as ECA, ADB, UNFPA, Country Support Teams of UNFPA (CST) in promoting appropriate population policies and programmes among Member States. At the continental level, the OAU has established the African Population Commission which held its inaugural meeting on 16 -18 May 1994 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The establishment of the Commission is an important step for our continent. For the first time, African countries have come together to establish a body which aims at coordinating various activities concerning population and development in Africa.

I wish to take this opportunity to remind the Honorable Ministers that the Third International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) will be held in Cairo, Egypt on 5-13 September 1994. I appeal to all Member States to attend and participate at that meeting with high-level delegations.

I also wish to take this occasion to express our congratulations to the Government and people of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting this International Conference on Population and Development.

At the Cairo Conference, major decisions on population and development will be made. These decisions will affect Africa for the next decade and beyond. It is therefore important that African countries attend the Preparatory Conference on 3-4 September 1994 in Cairo to defend the African common position on population and development issues within the framework of the Dakar/NGOR Declaration.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to inform you that the Inaugural Meeting of the African Population Commission has mandated its Chairman to present to your august Council the draft Declaration the Commission is recommending for adoption by the Summit during this Session. The Chairman is present with us and it will help the proceedings of the Council if he would be allowed to make his statement prior to the debate on this item.

With these few remarks, I submit doc. CM/1837 for your consideration.


(Lt. Col Chris Ugokwe)

Mr. Chairman,

Your Excellencies,

Honorable Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour and pleasure to make a brief statement at this important meeting as the First Chairman of the African Population Commission which had its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 16-18 May 1994. The meeting was organized by the OAU Secretariat in close collaboration with UN-ECA, ADB and UNFPA. It was attended by representatives of 48 African countries as well as by delegates of quite a number of non-African countries, NGOs, continental organizations and UN agencies.

After reviewing the demographic situation in Africa and its impact on socio-economic development in the region, evolution of African population policies, who is doing what in the field of population and the preparations for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) due to be held in Cairo, Egypt in September 1994, the meeting considered and adopted its Draft Rules of Procedure as well as the Draft Programme of Work. The meeting also discussed the Draft Declaration on Population and Development in Africa for consideration by this session of the OAU Council of Ministers for onward transmittal to the 30th Assembly of Heads of State and Government for final endorsement.

Our Continent, Africa, is inhabited by an estimated population of 682 million, comprising about 12% of the world population. Its rapid growth rate, excessive youthfulness and the biggest dependency ratio, disproportionate spatial distribution and the fastest urbanization all exert immense pressure on the means to provide food, water, work, health, education and shelter.

Contrary to our wishes and endeavours, our continent, Africa, is still in a state of prolonged economic crisis and stagnation although it is endowed with abundant natural resources. Indeed, Africa is the least developed continent. Available evidences denote that 32 of the 47 least developed countries in the world are found in Africa. Most African countries rely for one-third of their food needs on imports and donations.

One of the major impediments to sustainable development in Africa is the lack of harmony between population and available resources. Although African countries committed themselves to collectively adopted integrated development strategies, to-date there are only 24 countries which have explicit population policies and there are only about 30 countries which have introduced population education into their school curricula. In short, there is still a long way to go to ensure the integration of population variables into development planning.

Yours Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In view of the considerable work to be done in the field of population and development in Africa, the recently established African Population Commission becomes indispensable. It can provide useful services to the collective efforts of its members. Thus, apart from its coordinating functions, the Population Commission will also provide a forum where Africans can update their knowledge on new developments in the population field as well as exchange views on their experiences in this area. Since Africa is the last continent to venture into the field of population, it has a lot of catching-up to do.

We have proposed for your consideration and adoption to call the Commission the African Population Commission and that it be serviced by the joint OAU/ECA and ADB in close collaboration with UNFPA. We have also entrusted the OAU with the task of coordinating the work of the joint Secretariat in support of the Commission. It is expected that the Commission will provide the inspiration and impetus for this. In particular, the Commission will defend African interests at international fora, such as the forthcoming World Population Conference in Cairo.

Finally, Mr. Chairman the Commission discussed a draft Declaration on Population and Development in Africa for your consideration. The document consists of three parts, namely, the preamble, principles and objectives, and the declaration. The main issues raised in the declaration include the importance of the Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development; the need for explicit population policies and sustained effort to implement them; the empowerment of women; the question of improving living conditions in the rural areas; the need for external support in the field of population; endorsement of the African Population Commission; call on the OAU Member States to make the necessary preparations and show active participation at the forthcoming World Population Conference due to take place in Cairo in September 1994; and authorization of the OAU Secretary- General to monitor development in population activities in Africa in close collaboration with the Executive Secretary of the ECA and the President of the African Development Bank and to submit periodic reports to the Council of Ministers and the Assembly of Heads of States and Government.

Thank you.


Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed an honour to address this forum today. I would like to express our deep gratitude to the Secretary General of the OAU, His Excellency Salim Ahmed Salim, for his strong support of population issues, and to you Mr. Chairman and the members of the OAU for the opportunity to speak in particular of our cooperation with OAU and the forthcoming International Conference on Population and Development, that will take place in Cairo, on 5-13 September 1994.

Over the past two decades, population issues in Africa have been characterized by high fertility levels, high but moderately declining mortality levels, resulting in accelerating rates of population growth.

Growing at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent, the African population has the highest growth rate in the world. By the end of the century, Africa will have 900 million people, compared with 650 million today. Because of its built-in momentum of a youthful age structure, the continent's population will not only double within a generation, but will also remain young, adding to the already heavy dependency burden of providing for income, health and jobs.

Beyond population growth, African governments face other difficult population challenges, represented by such issues as maternal mortality and morbidity and high adolescent pregnancy rates, high rate of unplanned urbanization and internal migration.

While maternal mortality has been virtually eliminated in developed countries, it continues to extract a heavy toll on the life on women in Africa. It is estimated that as many as 190,000 women die every year due to causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Of these as many as 40 per cent may be attributed to abortion, often performed in unsafe conditions. A recent Conference in Mauritius reported that every day, some 10,000 African women undergo unsafe abortions, and every day, many die. In some countries, as many as half the women seeking treatment for abortion complications are under 20 years old. Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem in Africa, and an important social problem

With regard to adolescent pregnancy, the Demographic and Health Surveys and many recent studies indicate that in Africa, three out of four adolescent girls are mothers. This rate of teenage pregnancy is the highest in the world. Although many of these teenagers are married, the issue is of critical importance because 40 per cent of teenage births are to mothers aged 17 and under. Married or not, pregnancy at these ages is a special and avoidable risk. In many countries in the region, the highest rates of maternal mortality are among these young people.

From the above picture, it is quite clear that women's reproductive needs are not met. Contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) remains very low in Africa, except in a handful of countries. Yet demand for family planning exists; surveys show that roughly a third of African women desire child spacing. Where services are available, as, for example, in Botswana and Zimbabwe, women make increasingly use of them---CPR in these countries is approaching 40 per cent.

Until the early 1970s, there was little interest in Africa to address population issues. The belief in many countries was that economic development could be achieved concurrently with rapid growth in population. Even those countries who acknowledged that rapid population rates retarded the fulfillment of their development objectives did not take any concrete steps to address their population issues.

The period following the 1974 World Population Conference witnessed a dramatic change in the attitudes of several countries from indifference to positive thinking about attaining compatibility between population and economic growth. This was further accelerated by the 1984 Conference. Today, most African countries are implementing population programmes as part of their development plans. At the regional and sub-regional levels, various inter-governmental instruments on population and development have been adopted. The most recent one is the 1992 Dakar/NGOR Declaration which recognizes the need to integrate population policies and programmes in development plans and in which for the first time African governments set quantifiable goals to, among other things, bring down regional population growth from 3.0 to 2.5 per cent by the year 2000 and 2 per cent by the year 2010. Additionally the Dakar/NGOR Declaration expands the concept and operation of population programmes to encompass issues in women's reproductive health, adolescents and the education of women.

I would like to express our profound appreciation to the OAU for being at the forefront of these efforts to fully integrate population into development planning in Africa. Among these efforts, special mention must be made of the OAU Council of Ministers' decision in 1987 to authorize the OAU Secretary-General to seek financial and technical assistance from international organizations to assist Member States to establish National Population Commissions as well as to establish technical cooperation relations with African regional and sub-regional organizations dealing with population and development problems. Subsequently, a cooperation agreement was signed in 1992 between the OAU and UNFPA.

The most recent results of this cooperation are two important documents before this Council, namely the Resolution on Population and Development and the Declaration on Population and Development in Africa which upon endorsement by this meeting will be submitted to the Assembly of Heads of State for their adoption.

These historic documents are the outcome of the inaugural meeting of the African Population Commission which took place in Addis Ababa last May. Both the OAU and ourselves at UNFPA see the Africa Population Commission as an important forum for developing and initiating political actions, guidelines and resolutions on population and development issues.

International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)

Only three months from now, from 5-13 September, the international community will assemble in Cairo at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to reflect on the remarkable demographic, social and economic changes of the past ten years with a view to charting the future course of our efforts to achieve a balance between human numbers and available resources in the context of sustainable development.

Unlike the two previous World Population Conferences, the Cairo Conference was explicitly given a broader mandate, reflecting the growing awareness that population change, poverty, inequality, patterns of consumption and threats to the environment are so closely interconnected that no one of them can profitably be considered in isolation. The underlining approach taken for the Conference is based on the experiences of countries around the world in the areas of population and development, two areas of critical importance to the future of humanity.

Where We Stand Today

Although I could spend time today reviewing the background and preparatory process of the ICPD with you, I think our session together could be used more fruitfully if I keep such comments to a minimum and instead concentrate on where we are today and what lies before us.

The Conference that we have been so busily preparing for can be seen as a landmark event, one which will address population and development realities on the very eve of the next millennium. An immense amount of effort has gone into bringing the Conference to its current final stages. Every country in the world has participated in a regional ICPD conference. There have also been quite a number of sub-regional meetings. Three PrepComs have been successfully held, the last of which was in April 1994. In addition, we have convened 6 expert group meetings, 5 roundtable meetings and 3 intersessional meetings on a wide variety of issues and concerns.

At the national level, numerous activities have been undertaken over the last several years, including the formulation of ICPD national reports by 139 countries and a vast array of national seminars, conferences, meetings, information dissemination and awareness creation campaigns.

These meetings and activities reaffirm the remarkable, unprecedented interest in, and commitment to, population and development issues that exists today. PreCom III was particularly significant: never before have such a wide range of individuals, governmental and non-governmental representatives from all parts of the world come together to consider population and development concerns. At PrepCom III, agreement was reached among almost all the 170 country delegations, and close to 1000 NGO representatives, on a large number of critical issues in the ICPD Programme of Action.

After the in-depth scrutiny and debate of PrepCom III, the ICPD Programme of Action has emerged with the following outstanding characteristics:

A Leitmotif

A single leitmotif runs from the first to last page of the entire ICPD Programme of Action: improving the quality of life for each and every member of the human family. This central, unifying thread underlines all the many chapters, subchapters, topics, objectives and recommended actions. It is, in fact, the very purpose of the Conference.

The Full Integration of Population Concerns into the Development Process

Past experience has shown that what is required is an integrated approach that includes population programmes in conjunction with a wide range of supporting socio-economic development and sustainable development initiatives. The ICPD Programme of Action represents a fully integrated approach to population, development and the environment; one which promotes synergism between activities, leading to a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

The Centrality of the Individual and the Respect for Individual Choices

The ICPD is about choice and the total unacceptability of coercion of any type. There are no demographic targets in the Programme of Action. Rather the central message of the ICPD is the empowerment of individuals to make choices for themselves, including the number, spacing and timing of the births of their children. Experience has shown us what happens when people are given the opportunity of choosing for themselves. They make choices that lead to better lives for themselves and their children. The ICPD Programme of Action respects the rights and choices of individuals, and seeks to respond to the needs of individuals by addressing their demand for family planning services and methods.

The Integration of Family Planning into the Broader Concept of Reproductive Health.

Just as the ICPD Programme of Action recognizes the need to fully integrate population activities into the development process, so does it recognize the need to integrate family planning activities into the wider context of reproductive health. Reproductive health goes well beyond family planning. It is a comprehensive approach, addressing the health and education needs of individuals, especially girls and women, and increasing the scope of their choice. Not only does this approach bring about greater understanding of the multifarious issues effecting fertility in all their complexity, but at the operational level it results in women's groups and family planning groups working side by side trying to improve the reproductive health of women.

The Importance of Women's Empowerment

The ICPD Programme of Action recognizes the empowerment of women as an essential factor in resolving both population-related and development problems. Thanks to the efforts of many PreCom III delegations and NGOs, the ICPD chapter entitled "Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women" is even stronger than the original draft. In fact, it is considerably stronger than any of the draft language put forward to date for next year's World Conference on Women.

The Invaluable Role of NGOs to Promote People Participation.

The ICPD document recognizes no plan of action can be successful without the fullest participation of people, that NGOs play a vital role in the field of population. The unprecedented participation of NGOs at PrepCom III is a reflection of their central role in this field. Never before have NGOs been so mobilized, so well organized, so professional and systematic in their work at a UN meeting. I believe the chapter on NGOs is the strongest chapter ever to come out of a UN Conference. It sets new standards for NGO involvement in the activities of the UN system

Areas that Still Need to be Resolved

Although PreCom III made remarkable progress, and I know that its achievements have set us well on the path to a most successful Conference, I cannot disguise the great disappointment that it was not possible to address more forthrightly several most pressing health issues today: the high level of preventable maternal deaths in developing countries due to unsafe abortion; and the reproductive health needs of adolescents. It was also disappointing that, on the insistence of very few delegations, such widely-used and well-accepted terms as reproductive health, fertility regulation, and even the term safe motherhood, were placed in brackets.

Each year 300,000 women die from unsafe abortion, not to mention those who contract life-long health problems from abortions. The world has a moral obligation to address this issue. I know we can succeed in giving this issue, and the issue of adolescent reproductive health needs, the attention they deserves in the ICPD Programme of Action. One of the most effective ways to do so would be to focus on what the ICPD document actually says, rather than what a few parties claim it says. I would like to clarify once again that the draft does not advocate or promote abortion on demand. What it does advocate is the notion that the international community should deal openly and forthrightly with unsafe abortions as a major public health concern for women and first and foremost by promoting access to family planning services.

With regard to the reproductive health needs of adolescents, the document recognizes, and proposes a range of options for addressing, the health dangers of teenage pregnancies and the risks of STDs transmission among adolescents. In this regard, it is interesting to note that a recent WHO study reconfirms the view of experts that adolescent health education helps delay sexual activity and promotes responsible behaviour.

As many of you may know, the draft ICPD Programme of Action commits the world community to a set of 20-year quantitative goals in three, mutually supporting areas: education, especially for girls; reduction in infant, child and maternal mortality; and the provision of universal access to family planning and reproductive health services. Many of you may be surprised that these goals have been placed in brackets. This is because it was not possible for the 170 delegations that participated at PrepCom III to fully agree on the target levels and time frames.

The goals may be challenging but they are achievable provided governments are willing to make certain critical choices in resource allocations. The question of goals ultimately boils down to how committed we really are to increase individual options.

I am confident that in Cairo we will be able to agree on a set of forward looking, achievable goals that represent a partnership between developing countries and developed countries, as an expression of our common responsibility for sustainable development.

Lastly, although negotiations took place at PrepCom III on the resource requirement necessary to implement the ICPD Programme of Action, the estimates have yet to be agreed on, and are therefore still in brackets. Nevertheless, there are already some very encouraging signs with regard to international financing. These include announcements by the United States and Japan to significantly increase their already considerable funding for population and related social development programmes. I am confident that we will be able to reach agreement on realistic and achievable resource requirements.

Between Now and Cairo

Between now and Cairo, important work remains to be done. I am pleased that a number of delegations have offered to play a role in ironing out and narrowing the differences that remain, particularly in three areas: goals, resources, and the definition of bracketed terms. Further attention may also be given to the Preamble and the Principles chapters of the draft Programme of Action.

Africa's Contribution

I would like to take this occasion to underscore the contribution of African countries to the ICPD process. As a region, Africa has contributed the largest number of national reports- 46 altogether. The Dakar/NGOR Declaration, the most forward looking document on population and development ever produced by an African regional conference, was adopted as part of this region's contribution to the ICPD process. Other remarkable contributions include the Youth Forum on Population and Sustainable Development organized last March by the Government of Ghana. The Forum's final Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development was presented to PrepCom III. A number of African Women's NGOs are planning various meetings before the Cairo Conference. We would like to once again express our appreciation for this heightened interest. In our preparation for the Cairo Conference we had strong collaboration with various organizations particularly with ECA which has organized preparatory activities for the follow-up and implementation of the Dakar NGOR/Declaration. We acknowledge such collaboration and thank ECA for its support.

Concluding Remarks

We are now approaching the end of the twentieth century. Never before has humanity had at its disposal such a wide array of means to improve the living conditions of the vast majority of people. The ICPD provides a golden opportunity for us to make crucial decisions about investing in the future to ensure that our children and grandchildren will have a level of living as good, if not better, than we do.

There are now 90 days left before the Conference. When we gather in Cairo, we will be participating in the largest international conference on population and development ever held. We are expecting between 17,000 - 20,000 participants, including a number of Heads of State. We will be on the threshold of the next century. We must work closely together to resolve the remaining outstanding issues in the ICPD Programme of Action. We must make sure that the Cairo Conference marks a real step forward for all members of the human family.

Thank you.



1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the Member States of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), assembled in Tunis from 13-15 June 1994, for the Thirtieth Ordinary Session of our summit, have once more critically assessed the prevailing socio-economic situation of our continent and have reviewed the inextricable link between population and development. We note with concern that, our economies have been stagnating and declining, making Africa the most economically under-developed continent in the world. This situation has exposed our population to severe hardships and sacrifices.

2. In response to this situation, we have adopted various development strategies and plans including in particular the Declaration on Political and Socio-economic Situation in Africa and the Fundamental Changes Taking Place in the World (1990) as well as the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) (1991).

3. In spite of these efforts, our countries continue to face serious difficulties as a result of an unfavourable international economic environment characterized inter-alia by the collapse of prices of commodities of interest to African countries, the excruciating debt burden, the servicing of which is consuming a large part of our export earnings, and the decline, in real terms, of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) to our continent. All these notwithstanding, our countries have embarked on the implementation of structural adjustment programmes and the transformation of our economies.

4. We are aware of the intricate inter-play between population, environment and sustainable development and are mindful of the necessity for African States to evolve population policies and programmes to bring a balance between population growth and the capacity of our countries to provide for the basic needs of our people.

5. We have reviewed the population and development situation in our continent and wish to express our total political commitment to address them in the context of sustainable development. To this end, we reiterate our commitment to provide the basic needs of our people. We realize that this will require the full participation of our people in bringing a balance between our resources and our population growth.

6. In this respect, we wish to stress that population issues should be addressed in the wider context of the total needs of our socio-economic development. These issues were addressed in the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action (KPA) for African Population and Self-reliant Development (1984) and in the Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development (1992).


7. Sustainable development requires the integration of population variables into development strategies, socio-economic planning, decision-making and resource allocation at all levels.

8. For a successful implementation of population and sustainable development policies, infrastructure, institutions, the legal framework and human resources are required.

9. Economic integration among our countries is an essential condition for our collective self-reliance and self-sustained development.

10. Africa's efforts will require, supportive international economic environment, addressing the debt burden, the terms of trade and providing adequate international support in the promotion or our development, particularly in industrialization.

11. We are committed to provide the basic needs of our population, particularly food security, drinking water, health services, education and shelter.

12. We reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of individuals and families to participate in decision-making affecting their well- being.

13. In recognition of the critical role of women and their major contribution to socio-economic development, we reaffirm our commitment to the enhancement of women's rights, status and needs.

14. We are aware that peace, security, stability and the rule of law are necessary prerequisites for our development and the welfare of our people. To this end, we have adopted the Cairo Declaration on the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution within the OAU (1993).

15. We reaffirm our solidarity in dealing with our development and population problems. In this respect, we reaffirm the sovereign rights of each of our countries to formulate its population policies with freedom, dignity and respecting intrinsic values of its people, taking fully into account its moral and cultural factors.

16. We commit ourselves to exert every effort to address the root causes of the problems of refugees and displaced persons, through conflict prevention, management and resolution; through democratization and the respect for human rights; and by the encouragement of voluntary repatriation of refugees to their respective countries of origin, once the conditions of their exile have disappeared.


17. We have considered the Dakar/NGOR Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development adopted by our Ministers Responsible for Population Matters at the 3rd African Population Conference (APC) held in Dakar in December 1992.

18. We hereby endorse the Dakar/NGOR Declaration and affirm that it is an indispensable population and development strategy that will take Africa to the end of this century and beyond.

19. We stress the need for a sustained effort in the formulation of explicit population policies and the design of strategies for implementing the policy measures and the associated national population programmes by our Member States. To this end, we urge our Member States to establish and/or strengthen national institutions to address, on a continuous and consistent basis, the issues of population and sustainable development and in particular to take the necessary measures for the implementation of the commitment made on the Dakar/NGOR Declaration.

20. We commit ourselves particularly to do all within our power to empower women to play their full role in society through the elimination of inequality between men and women, providing educational opportunities to attain their full potential, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and ensure their full access to the means of production including land.

21. We commit ourselves to address in a comprehensive manner the development of our youth to achieve their full potential through the provision of education, counselling, support services and gainful employment opportunities.

22. We further commit ourselves to improve the living conditions of our rural population, including nomads, through specific policies and programmes designed to meet basic needs particularly food, drinking water, health, education and shelter within the framework of our population and sustainable development policies and strategies.

23. We commit ourselves to increase in our regular respective budgets the necessary resources needed for the implementation of our population policies and programmes.

24. We urge the International Community to provide our countries with the necessary assistance to achieve the above objectives and to support our efforts for the implementation of the Dakar/NGOR Declaration in particular to:

a) expand our health infrastructure to ensure adequate coverage of our population in each Member

State in order to adequately provide for mother and child health services and family planning;

b) assist Member States in the implementation of their information, education, communication (IEC) strategies, in service delivery, capacity building for statistical data collection, analysis, research and reporting capabilities to enhance the management of population and development matters; and

c) review and formulate legal systems with a view to establishing the necessary legal framework to create a positive environment for the full participation of women in their own development and the development of our countries.

25. We endorse the establishment of the African Population Commission and request it to co-operate with other institutions in the implementation of population activities in Africa.

26. We encourage Member States to cooperate and exchange experiences in the field of population and development, particularly in research, statistics and policy issues, to foster collaboration among African researchers and planners in this field with the view to creating an enabling environment for the establishment and effective functioning of the African Economic Community. We also encourage the South-South cooperation in the field of population and development activities.

27. We call upon the OAU Member States to make all the necessary preparations at the national level and to participate actively at the Cairo Conference, in view of the fact that this major international event will be taking place on the African soil for the first time.

28. We wish to express our appreciation and congratulations to the Government and the People of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

29. We express our appreciation to the UNFPA and other donors for assisting African countries in implementing their population programmes and request them to continue providing that assistance. We also request the donor countries and NGOs to increase their technical and financial assistance to population programmes in Africa.

30. We request the Secretary-General of the OAU in collaboration with the Executive Secretary of the ECA to monitor developments in population activities in Africa and to submit periodic reports to the OAU Council of Ministers and to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.


By Dr. Ben Hadj Abdellatif (OAU)

I. Basic Information

Most economic and social indicators describing economic and social conditions in Africa indicate that it is still in a deepening state of under-development. Over the past twenty years many countries in the continent have undergone demographic, social, economic and political changes. Many countries have made substantial progress in expanding access to reproductive health care and lowering birth rates, as well as in lowering death rates and raising education, including the educational and economic states of women. Despite this favorable change, further increases in population size are inevitable. Owing to the youthful age structure, the coming decades will bring substantial population increase in absolute numbers. It is expected that African population will double in 24 years hence.

Serious economic, social, gender and other inequities persist and hamper efforts to improve the quality of life for hundred million of African people. Widespread poverty remains the major challenge to development efforts. Poverty is often accompanied by unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, low states of women, exposure to environmental risks and limited access to social and health services. All these factors contribute to high levels of fertility, morbidity and mortality, as well as to low productivity also (adverse climatic conditions have resulted in a persistent decline in the carrying capacity of land and hence its productivity).

An important factor that continues to render the force of fertility so potent is the low social and economic states of women in the African region. Women are facing threats to their lives, health and well being as a result of being over-burdened with work and their lack of power and influence. In Africa, women receive less formal education than men. Improving the states of women enhances their decision-making capacity at all levels in all spheres of life, especially in the area of sexuality and reproduction. Hence, there is an urgent need to take the necessary steps for the empowerment of women at all levels of decision- making.

Another key issue is the rapid growth of urban areas. African cities are growing at such rapid rates that urban infrastructure built to accommodate 200,000 people are now forced to accommodate a couple of millions. Urban unemployment is increasing at alarming rates. Crime rates are also increasing. Urbanization has profound implications on individual livelihood, way of life and values. At the same time, migration has economic, social and environmental implications for the places of origin and destination. So a balanced spatial distribution of population in the frame of local development should be considered.

It is noteworthy also that in the early years of the decade of the 1990s, the annual average growth rate of the GDP has been a mere 1.5%. This is barely half of the African population growth rate, reinforcing the trend of continuing decline in per capita income and a further slide into poverty on the part of the generality of the African population. Therefore, efforts to slow down population growth and to enhance economic progress are needed.

Three main factors have contributed and continue to exercise an influence on the growth of African output; these are: continuing civil conflicts and political crisis in some African countries, natural disasters, especially the drought and the international economic environment marked by stagnation in leading industrialized countries, such as external debt, declining prices of commodities of interest to African countries.

During the past few decades, considerable experience has been gained in Africa on how government policies and programmes can be designed and implemented to address population and development concerns. This experience has led to a growing recognition that population related policies, programmes and projects, to be sustainable, need to engage their intended beneficiaries fully in their design and subsequent implementation. Nevertheless, there is a need for many countries to increase awareness of population and development issues, formulate, and implement national strategies, plans, policies and programmes that address population and development issues.

For that purpose, objectives should be formulated and actions undertaken to prevent the future implications of population growth and to ensure an effective development.

II. Objectives

In response to population challenges, African leaders and policy makers have collectively and separately adopted various development strategies which consider population as an important component of planning. Some of these strategies are Lagos Plan of Action, the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action, the Dakar/NGOR Declaration, the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) etc.. In the frame of these declarations and resolutions and according the Programme of Action of the International Conference of Cairo, the following main objectives can be made for the coming decades. They include the following:

1) To facilitate the demographic transition as soon as possible mainly in countries where there exist an imbalance between demographic rates and social, economic and environmental goals.

2) To address problems affecting youth such as: early marriages, early and unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse, all of which have impact on population.

3) To strengthen policies aimed at maintaining and improving the quality of life of African people.

4) To reduce differences in health for categories of population who have not benefitted to the same extent from the improvements in the general state of health. Particular attention should be paid to the homeless and to the lower socially and economically disadvantaged groups, especially those residing in the rural areas.

5) To ensure that population policies that lead to the eradication of environmental degradation and poverty are integrated in sustainable development programmes.

6) To reduce both unsustainable consumption and production patterns as well as negative impacts of demographic factors on the environment in order to meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

7) To ensure the enhancement of women's contributions to sustainable development; their full involvement in policy and decision-making processes at all stages; and their participation in all aspects of production, employment, income-generation activities, education, health, science and technology should be ensured.

8) To reduce the role of the various factors that contribute to the flow of migration and to address the root causes of migration especially those related to poverty and others caused by violent conflicts, wars, urbanization and other causes.

9) To disseminate technical information and promote and strengthen understanding of the relationships between population, consumption, production and sustainable development.

10) To fully integrate population concerns into development strategies, planning, decision-making, and resource allocation at all levels with the goals of meeting the needs and improving the quality of life of African population, promoting social justice and eradicating poverty through sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development.

11) To make an end to the lack of adequate domestic financial resources and to encourage investors in economic policies.

III. Actions

To reach these objectives the following broad areas of action are recommended:

A) In the Area of Population

1) Member States that have not adopted national population policies should be urged to do so as soon as possible as no meaningful action can be taken in the area of population without a clearly defined policy instrument. The States should ensure that such policies are explicit in such matters as clear statement of goals, the time frame within which aspects of such goals are to be attained, proposed actions in the area of mobilizing all institutional and material resources available internally. This should include the creation of favorable conditions for private sectors participation in population education, family planning service delivery, population data collection, analysis and interpretation, etc..

2) In attempting to address population growth concerns, countries should recognize the inter-relationships between fertility and mortality levels and aim to reduce high levels of infant, child and maternal mortality so as to lessen the need for high fertility and reduce the occurrence of high risk births.

3) Each member state should develop programs designed to involve males in family planning activities and solicit the services of traditional leaders including religious leaders, in mobilizing popular support for population on family planning activities.

B) In the Field of Social Development

4) Countries should act to empower women and should take steps to eliminate inequalities between men and women as soon as possible by:

- promoting the fulfillment of women's potential through education, skill development and employment.

- eliminating all forms of exploitation, abuse, harassment and violence against women, adolescents and children.

5) Measures should be taken to enhance the full participation of all relevant groups, especially women, at all levels of population and environmental decision-making to achieve sustainable management of natural resources.

C) In the Area of Economic Development

6) Integrate demographic factors into environmental impact assessments and other planning and decision-making processes aimed at achieving sustainable development.

7) Take measures aimed at the eradication of poverty, with special attention to income generation and employment strategies directed at the rural poor and those living within or on the edge of fragile ecosystems.

8) Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should promote public awareness and understanding for the implementation of different actions related to population and development.

9) African countries should invest in human resource development, in accordance with national policy, giving priority to population and development strategies and budgets, at all levels, with programmes specifically directed at increased access to information, education, skill development, employment opportunities, both formal and informal, and high-quality general health services, including family planning services, through the promotion of sustained economic growth.

10) Government economic policy should be reoriented in order to reflect the fact that agriculture is a sector least exploited so far and efforts must increase to modernize this sector through improved research on extension.

11) Attention should be given to integrated rural development in order to limit the rural exodus, create job opportunities, lowing poverty and ameliorating health and social conditions.

12) Industrialization policy should focus on the exploitation and industrial transformation of available natural resources by way of laying down a strong foundation for future industrialization of African countries.

13) African countries should eliminate constraints to development and provide critical capacities in human, institutional and infrastructural dimensions. For this purpose, they should create a political climate and stability in order to ensure the capital formation and sending favourable signals to investors.

14) Over the next 25 years, African development must be seen in terms of sustained building and more effective and efficient utilization of their critical capacities for increasing competitiveness in the world economy and permanently boosting their long-term growth potential.

D) In the Sphere of Financial Resources

African countries should ensure that international cooperation in the area of population and development is consistent with national population and development priorities centered on the well-being of intended beneficiaries and serves to promote national capacity-building and self-reliance. They must improve policy dialogue and coordination of population and development programmes and activities at the international level, including bilateral and multilateral agencies and strengthen their national coordination mechanisms for international cooperation in population and development and in consultation with donors and development partners (NGOs and others).

The international community should increase substantially the availability of international financial assistance in the field of population and development in order to enable African countries to achieve the goals of their programmes and activities.


The African Case

By Wole Gurmu

Population IEC Officer


Man and the natural environment are very much interrelated. Any change in any one of them has a direct bearing on the other. If we take the case of man, he lives in and depends on the environment. He extracts minerals and energy from it. He is fed from it by cultivating the land and harvesting the waters. He uses it for irrigation. However, he goes beyond the limit and destroys the ecological system. Consequently, the life supporting capacity of the natural environment is weakened and the living conditions of man deteriorate.

Although Africa was basically endowed with abundant natural resources, most of them have been depleted at an alarming rate. The region has been experiencing a very serious environmental degradation. It has lost most of its natural forests and top layer soil, due to an improper management and consumption pattern. Indeed, Africa has become the scene of frequent droughts and famines. In view of this, the concern for the protection of the natural environment has recently increased in Africa.

The aim of this paper is, therefore, to assess the degree of environmental degradation in the region in view of the rapid growth of


population. Nevertheless, it cannot claim to be authoritative, since it lacks adequate data. It should only be taken as a modest contribution to the multitudes of literature on the subject.

Population Size Distribution and Growth

At present, Africa has about 682 million population or about 12 per cent of the total world population. With 42 per cent of the total land area, Eastern Africa and Western Africa together, share 68 per cent of the entire population. Northern Africa accommodates 22 per cent of the population on an area which is 29 per cent of the total. Central Africa and Southern Africa have the smallest proportions of population, ie 11 per cent and 6 per cent respectively1.

The overall population density is about 22 persons per square kilometer. The corresponding figure was 11 persons in 1966, showing a constant growth of population pressure on land. The most densely populated subregions are Eastern Africa (32 persons per square kilometer) followed by Southern Africa (22). Central Africa is the least populated sub-region (8)2. In general, there seems to be no population pressure on land. But when one begins to examine the situation of specific areas and compute population density in terms of arable lands, rather than focusing upon continental, sub- regional and national densities, it soon becomes apparent that the problem of population pressure is considerably more than most observers admit. For example, the continental density of population per square kilometer of arable land in 1960 was 164 persons. By 1969 the figure grew to 203 persons. In 1985, it reached 328 persons3. At present, it is around 400 persons4.

By subregions, Eastern Africa and Northern Africa have the highest population pressure on cultivable lands, ie 470 and 410 persons respectively. Southern Africa, with about 300 persons per square kilometer of arable land, has the lowest population density.

The situation is alarming at national levels. Most countries seem to have reached the most extreme limit at the current level of technological development in Africa. The highest densities have been recorded in Egypt (2259), Liberia (2000), Cameroon (1996), Ghana (1339), Kenya (1276) and Mauritius (1100)5.

As regards population growth, the continent has had the highest ever increasing growth rate in the world, particularly since the 1950s. For instance, latest data compilations and computations show that Africa's population growth rate has increased from 2.6 per cent during the period of 1965-1970 to 3.04 per cent between 1985 and 19906. By 1992,it had already reached 3.1 per cent7.

Sub-regional records also manifest a similar pattern, although there are some variations. Western Africa and Eastern Africa are on the lead with 3.2 per cent each. The lowest rates have been registered in Southern Africa (2.4 per cent) and Northern Africa (2.6 per cent).

In general, the high growth rate is likely to continue increasing beyond the 2000 years mark. At the current growth rate of 3.1 per cent per annum, the population of Africa is expected to reach 867 million in 2000 and 1.6 billion in 2025.

The Natural Environment

By the natural environment, we mean the air, the rivers, lakes and oceans, and the land together with the flora and fauna in our surroundings. It influences, and sometimes limits and controls human activities. Although it is no longer believed that man is fundamentally controlled and conditioned by his environment, we cannot ignore completely the effects which the natural environment has upon man.

On the other hand, we note that the natural environment renders many services to man. Basically, it is a supplier of resources for the survival of mankind. It is used by man as a source of shelter, food, water, energy and entertainment. In so doing, however, man destroys the ecosystem and makes life difficult for himself. Thus, in what follows, we shall try to examine the state of the African natural environment in view of the rapid population growth.

Position and Size of Africa

The continent of Africa has a balanced position around the equator. As such, two thirds of Africa lies in the tropical zone. In fact, no other continent has such a high proportion of its area in the tropical region, and Africa contains the largest area of inter-tropical territory on the globe.

With an area of about 30 million square kilometers, Africa is the second largest continent in the world. It occupies approximately 22% of the total land surface on the globe. This immenseness of the continent, compounded by the lack of broken coastlines to allow penetration of maritime influences, has been noted to be the main cause of aridity in the interior.

A glance at the map of the continent and the statistics of the subregions, shows that Northern Africa constitutes about 30% of the total area. Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and Western Africa are almost equal making up about 20-22 per cent each. The smallest subregion is Southern Africa, covering only 6 per cent of the continental land surface8

The Landform

It is a well known fact that relief is one of the chief factors of population distribution. Very mountainous and rugged land forms as well as deep depressions and rift valleys make habitation and crop cultivation very difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand, great plains with fertile soils and adequate rainfall, favour dense population.

Africa is a compact continent with a relatively short coastline and narrow coastal low lands. Most of the land rises abruptly within a short distance from the coast. This means that the areas of true lowland are very small. In fact, there is no other continent which has such a small proportion of its land surface less than 300 meters above sea level.

The African landmass is spotted with numerous mountains, of which the main ones are the Ethiopian Highlands, the East Africa Plateau, the Highveld in Southern Africa, the Bihe Plateau in Angola, the Bauchi Plateau in Nigeria and Niger, the Fauta Jallon Plateau in West Africa, and the Atlas Mountains in North-West Africa. As these highlands have thin, strong and immature soils, as well as cold climates, they are sparsely populated.

There are also some deep depressions on the surface of the African Plateau. The major ones are the Afar Sink in North-East Ethiopia, the Quattar Depression in Northern Egypt, the Kalahari Basin in Southern Africa and the Chad Basin in West Africa. In East Africa, there is another major landform. The plateau dropped to form the Great East African Rift Valley which runs north-south. Like the rugged and rocky mountains, these depressions are hostile to man in most cases.


The location of most of the African landmass in the tropics and the fact that the continent lacks enough coastal lowlands to allow maritime influences to penetrate the interior, greatly determine its temperature. Basically, Africa is the hottest continent. This situation is aggravated by the depletion of the ozone layer, as a result of immense emissions of carbondioxide from the surface of the land, due to man's activities. In 1986 alone, about 209 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted from Africa, excluding South Africa9. This leads to a deterioration in man's living conditions.

Low temperatures are rarely found in the continent. The only areas which have low temperatures and snow covers, are the mountain groups, such as the Central Highlands of Ethiopia, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, the High Velds of South Africa and the High Atlas in North Africa.

As regards rainfall, Africa has large areas which receive only a limited amount of rainfall. Moreover, rainfall is seasonal over most of the continent. Indeed, there are wide areas with up to six months of the year dry. Only a narrow strip of land stretching from the gulf of Guinea to the East African Highlands, has rain in each month.

In most places of the continent, rainfall is unsatisfactory, either because it is deficient or because it is restricted to a short season. Very often, rainfall is in short violent showers or thunderstorms, during which the amount of damage to soil and crops is considerable. In short, there is no other continent where climatic conditions create such large problems for man.

Natural Forests

The type of any vegetation is determined by altitude and the amount of rainfall received. The most important vegetation zones in Africa are the Equatorial Rain Forest, the Savanna Land (Tropical Grassland), and the Highland Forest and Grassland of East Africa.

Basically, Africa had abundant forest resources. But at present, only 0.7 per cent of the continent is covered with closed forest and 1.5 per cent with open forest10 The annual deforestation rate for all forests in Africa is 0.5 per cent, whereas it is only 0.3 per cent for the world. The major factors of deforestation are forest fires, shifting cultivation, fuel wood gathering, over- grazing and over-exploitation for timber industry.

The situation is particularly alarming in West Africa, where forest clearance affects about 1900 hectares of thick forest every day. The most affected countries are Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Gambia and Nigeria. In North Africa, 58 000 hectares of forest are lost every year. A similar situation is observed in East Africa. In Kenya, a severe depletion of the natural forests has been recorded in most districts11 Ethiopia loses about 100,000 hectares of forests each year. At present, only 3 per cent of the land is covered with forest12. In the Sudan, the forest area has been reduced by 20 per cent over the last twenty years. Although 25 per cent of the land in Madagascar is still under forest cover, the rate of depletion is about 1.5 per cent. Thus, what the country has lost during the past 40 years, has been found to be equivalent to the loss that was recorded during the preceding 1500 years.

More than 75 per cent of Africa's forest resources are found in Central Africa, mainly in Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and Central Africa. Latest studies indicate that about 575,000 hectares (0.2 per cent) of the closed tropical forest are lost every year13.

The Sahelean Zone is not exceptional to the general trend. Overgrazing and over cutting for fuel wood and construction purposes, have seriously depleted the forest resources.

In general, the forest resources of Africa have been badly depleted. Given the low level of regeneration efforts (reforestation) in most African countries, and the rapid population growth, it is quite plain that disappearance of the forests is merely a question of time. This situation invites drought and expansion of deserts, making life difficult for the growing population. Indeed, drought and famine have already been a reality in the Sahel region, causing an immense loss of life and human displacement.

Soil Degradation and Erosion

Basically, the soils of Africa are poor in humus content and organic matter. They tend to deteriorate with age contrary to the reality in the temperate latitudes. In areas where rainfall exceeds evaporation, mineral salts are washed from the top layers in the soil and the soil is described as "leached". On the other hand, in areas where the rate of evaporation is high, the capillary action of the soil draws up solutions of minerals from the lower layers, resulting in a "hard pan" or crust on or near the surface of the soil. This discourages the growth of natural vegetation and accelerates erosion. When the land becomes bare and/or is left with a thin vegetation cover, the surface becomes loose and dusty during the dry season. During the wet season, the top layers are swiftly eroded by torrential rainfalls and deep gullies develop on land which is sloping.

The effect of tropical rainfall and evaporation coupled with the rapid forest depletion, aggravates soil erosion problem in Africa. It is estimated that about 18 million tons of top soil are lost each year and that sand dunes are advancing rapidly14. Most of the degraded lands are located in North Africa (Egypt and Tunisia mostly), in the Islands of Madagascar and Cape Verde, all along the Sahelian zone stretching from west to east, southern Nigeria, the coastal lowlands of Southern Africa and the highlands of East Africa.

Erosion is most severe in Ethiopia. According to the latest estimation, 3.5 billion tons of superficial soil are carried away by run-off, an average of 70 tons per hectare of all land and 100 tons per hectare of cultivated land, due to rudimentary agricultural practices and population pressure. Drought and erosion are serious in the traditional farming areas inhabited by about 90 per cent of the total population15. The famines of 1974 and 1984 are the consequences of this reality.

In Madagascar, in the highlands only, between 12 to 14 million tons of soil are carried away each year. According to the World Bank and other sources, erosion rates are between 25 and 200 tons per hectare per year. This has made 50% of the irrigation networks unusable for intensive rice growing16.

In West Africa, 30 to 55 tons of soil per hectare are lost on 1 to 2 per cent. In some areas of Côte d'Ivoire, the rate reaches even upto 500 tons of soil per hectare per year17.


Desertification is land degradation in arid and semi-arid areas, resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities, such as excessive wood cutting for construction purposes, fuel wood gathering, charcoal making, forest clearance for shifting cultivation and over-grazing.

Desertification has become a very serious problem in Africa. According to recent environmental studies, the deserts are engulfing some 60,000 square kilometers a year in Africa and more than 10 million square kilometers may be affected in the near future. The situation in the five Maghreb region is critical. About 200 million hectares or 16.5 per cent of the total arable land is already considered desert-like. In a similar way, Sahara is advancing southward. For example, sand dunes are moving southward at 7 to 10 kilometers a year in Northern Sudan18

Kenya is another good example, where a severe and fast desertification is underway. Forests have been reduced to 3 per cent of the national territory and 19 per cent of the country has already been overtaken by an acute desertification19

Population and Environment Concerns

There is a common generalization that there is no population pressure in Africa. There are a number of explanations for the widespread tendency to undermine population pressure in Africa.

The major factors are:

a) Tendency to use continental density figures; and

b) Frequent statements regarding the lack of population pressure, without no reference to the carrying and production capacity of the land.

Nevertheless, a thorough assessment of the situation reveals that the problem is serious more than most observers could imagine. As already indicated, the population of Africa is growing fast. This has entailed serious developments:

a) Population density in terms of arable land, has increased from 131 persons per square kilometer in 1950 to about 400 persons per square kilometer in 1990. This has led to over-cultivation and fragmentation of agricultural lands.

b) Demand for arable lands, grazing lands, firewood and timber has grown, resulting in deforestation, which in turn has caused a severe soil erosion.

c) The depletion of the ozone layer has accelerated due to the increasing emissions of carbondioxide from the effects of man's activities. This in turn has caused temperatures to go up and rainfall to decrease.

d) Human migration and displacement have increased in the country side, with rural urban migration resulting in fast urbanization and development of shanty towns and slum areas.

e) Water shortages have become normal in many rural areas and urban centres.

The consequences of the large and fast growing population are not unnoticed. Africans have been feeling the problems for quite some time now. The 1974 World Population Conference that took place in Bucharest has changed the population perception of African population experts, planners and policy makers. Accordingly, they have adopted a number of collective action programmes to avert population pressure and environmental degradation. One of the early documents ever adopted by Africans with regard to population and environment, is the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) 1980, which stipulates that an appropriate machinery should be established, in order to ensure greater integration of population variables in development planning, bearing in mind the expected doubling of the population between 1975 and 2000 and the impact of this on economic planning and development. In other words, the programme calls upon African countries to identify priority areas of environmental concern within their territories for concerted effort to combat environmental problems. In particular, the action programme recommends promotion of reforestation programmes and maintenance of the carrying capacity of the arid lands.

The other important African programme that should be mentioned in relation to population and environment is the Kilimanjaro Programme of Action on Population (KPA). This programme recognizes population factors as important components of development and calls upon African countries to formulate population policies, and especially to introduce family planning programmes to reduce fertility rate, with the aim of lessening demographic pressure. In addition, the programme recommends that countries affected by natural disasters, such as drought and cyclones and acute problems of food shortages, should assess seriously these problems and institute appropriate strategies and policies to combat them.

In Africa's Priority Programme for Economic Recovery (APPER), Africans also agreed to intensify the struggle against drought and desertification. This was reiterated in the Khartoum Declaration of the 1988 International Conference of the Human dimension of Africa's Economic Recovery and Development, which reads that conservation of nature and natural resources and maintenance of eco-systems and environmental balances should be undertaken in order to arrest drought and desertification.

The most important declaration as regards population and environment in Africa, is the Kampala Declaration on Sustainable Development in Africa, adopted by the First African Regional Conference on Environment that took place in Kampala in June 1989. By the Declaration, the participants of the Conference reaffirmed their commitment of managing demographic changes and pressures, ensuring efficient and equitable use of water resources, maintaining species and eco-systems as well as preventing and reversing desertification.

In general, Africans have adopted and issued a number declarations and action programmes. At present, 24 African countries have adopted national population policies. Nevertheless, much remains to be done in their implementation. The situation is similar on the environment front. Land rehabilitation and reforestation programmes are also weak. As such, only about 150,000 hectares a year were planted in 1986-1987. This represented only about 4 per cent of the forest area destroyed20. For timber supply alone, it is estimated that 250,000 hectares should be planted a year to achieve a balance between timber supply and demand by the end of the century.


The population of Africa is growing fast. It has already created considerable pressures on the available resources. Shortages of firewood, construction timber, and arable land have become common problems. Droughts and famines haunt the continent frequently. Desertification is fast becoming one of the continents most pressing problems. If situations are allowed to continue unchecked, it would be very difficult, not impossible to correct them later on. Therefore, Africans should pull together their resources and the will to increase the carrying capacity of their lands without any delay. First and foremost, they should realize that they need a comprehensive population and development policy. This should be followed by the actual formulation of the national population policy, by using the collective development strategies as frameworks. Then, efforts should be made to integrate the demographic and environmental factors into the overall national development plan which needs to be implemented systematically.


1. UN - World Population Chart, N.Y. 1990

2. UNECA - Demographic Handbook for Africa, Addis Ababa, 1988, PP 18-20

3. UNECA - Ibid

4. UNFPA - The State of world Population, N.Y., 1991, P. 42

5. World Bank - African Development Indicators, N.Y. 1992, P 344.

6. Wole Gurmu - A Review of the Population Situation in Africa, unpublished paper, OAU, 1992, P. 16

7. World Bank - Op.cit, P. 358

8. World Bank - Op.cit, P. 346

9. ECA - Survey of Economic and Social Conditions in Africa, 1988-1989, N.Y. 199.

10. Ibid

11. CERPOD - Degradation and Environment in Africa, unpublished paper, Bamako, 1992, P.11

12. CERPOD - Op.cit, P.10

13. ECA - Op.cit, P.38

14. CEPOD - Op.cit, P.5

15. Ibid

16. Ibid

17. ECA - Op.cit, P.138

18. Ibid

19. ECA - Survey of Economic and Social Conditions in Africa, 1986-1987, N.Y. 1988, P.45.


By Idris M. Nur (Dr)


(A) Introduction

1. There is wide agreement that famine and hunger in Africa pose a serious threat to the Continent's peace and security. The fact that Africa's per capita food production dropped 20 per cent over the past two decades despite increasing national and international efforts and foreign aid levels, remains one of the great development dilemmas.

2. It is obvious that the economy of Africa in general is based on agriculture. As such, the well-being of Africa's per capita food production basically depends on the efforts national governments give to the agricultural sector which occupies the largest labour force. The majority of the African governments invest less in agriculture and either more in military and/or in urban developments. International investments and aids also do not reach the poor farmer. Thus, the food crisis in Africa is basically due to lack of national governments' and international organizations' commitments to the welfare of the poor farmers. Food aid is only a temporary solution to the food crisis in Africa.

3. Africa's food supply seem only geared towards the production and consumption of subsistence crops. Other sources of food such as fishing seems to be neglected. Ethiopia for example, has a high fishing potential. The consumption of fish is not only important for filling the gap of food supply problem but is very rich in important nutrients. This suggests that efforts should be made to change the food habits of farmers in fish consumption.

(B) Manifestation of the Crisis

4. The food crisis in Africa is manifested in the vast migration of people from rural to urban areas, from rural to rural and from one country to another.

5. The number of malnourished people in Africa has remained disturbingly high reaching around 70 million. One in every seven is living close to starvation. The health of most people is linked integrally with the agricultural sector, and agriculture dominates life in rural areas. Thus agricultural policies can improve health and can ensure a balanced diet for the population.

6. Nutritional disorders exact a heavily toll in Africa. Protein energy malnutrition affects 40 per cent of children under three years of age, including five per cent of children under three years of age, including five per cent who are severely malnourished. Serious vitamin "A" deficiency affects three per cent of the population in affected areas.

7. The situation is more vivid when we learn that about six countries in Africa have agricultural growth rates of four per cent and higher, which is just about the right figure for agricultural growth to accommodate population growth.

(C) Causes of the Crisis

8. The following are some of the factors that have been influencing the food situation in Africa. Some of these factors occur individually, others in multiplicity, in coincidence or as a result of chain reactions.

Internal Factors

9. There has been a consensus that African governments have not given a high priority to agriculture and food production, nutrition and health programmes. There has been more emphasis on cash crops than food production. The investment in agriculture and food production has been very small as compared to other sectors. The international factors include:

(i) Agricultural inputs, markets and prices

Farming requires factors of production, e.g. improved seeds, fertilizers, adaptable technology, etc. Unfortunately, they are not made available to the small farmer at the right time, in the right quantity and at prices that encourage rather than restrict their use.

(ii) Agricultural Policies

National governments and financing institutions do not provide the necessary incentives and support to increase the productivity of the subsistence sector so that this sector may produce marketable surplus.

(iii) Urbanization Trends

Africa has the highest annual rate of urbanization in the world; it approaches 32 per cent. This shows that rural areas are neglected by African Governments.

(iv) Lack of Necessary Infrastructure

These include storage, processing, transportation,, etc. Various surveys show that a substantial part of the farm produce is lost between the farm and the consumer. These losses are greater in perishable farm produce such as vegetables and animal products.

(v) Lack of Proper Training

The African small farmer lacks proper training in agricultural techniques. This has contributed to low productivity and production.

(vi) Research

The low level of technology used in food and agricultural production has been one of the bottlenecks to increased production. Research stations fail to concentrate their efforts for the development of low cost and adaptable technologies for increasing food and agricultural production. It should also be noted that most of the research works are not oriented to problem-solving and that their findings do not reach the small farmer.

(vii) Population Growth

Currently, the average annual rate of population growth in Africa is as high as 3.0 per cent which exceeds the average annual rate of increase in food production (2.0 per cent). Indeed, food production has failed to keep pace with population growth.

(viii) Political Factors

Political crisis and civil wars are rampant in Africa. Such incidents disturb agricultural activities and direct investment priority areas in favour of military spending.

(ix) Food Losses

At large part of what is produced in Africa, never becomes available to consumers. An average of at least 10 per cent of total cereal production, amounting annually to more than 4.5 million tons is lost during and after harvest.

(x) Public Health

The health status of the small African farmer is extremely poor due to scarce health facilities. Indeed, only about 50% of the African population has access to health services. Clearly, this situation has kept productivity and total food production at a very low level.

(xi) Land Tenure

In some countries, the land tenure system compels the small farmers to operate on uneconomically small and fragmented land. Such a situation inhibits investment in land improvement thereby, inhibiting increased food production.

(xii) Farmers' Mentality

Farmers' subsistence mentality seems also to contribute to food crisis. Farmers usually do not have the habit of reserving food to be used during bad years

10. External Constraints

(i) Unusual Hazards

The advance of drought has become an endemic problem in Africa. Drought-affected areas constitute a large part of the Continent. The current crisis engulfs much wider areas as compared to the famine of 1973/74, which took the lives of thousands and left many more with lasting damage from malnutrition. Other natural disasters include floods, cyclones, birds, rats, locust, etc. These natural disasters also have an impact on the food situation in Africa. Acute food shortages in Africa are very often triggered off by droughts.

(ii) Desertification

Desertification is the phenomenon that has already destroyed millions of hectares of land and will destroy millions more if permitted to continue. The ultimate effect of desertification is increased aridity. Economically, productive land is rendered barren or unproductive through the process of desertification.

(iii) Rainfall

Another important factor to Africa's food crisis is the dependence on rain-fed agriculture. In most areas, agriculture has remained rain-fed even though observations indicate that rainfall has decreased over the past 15 years in Africa South of the Sahara. The lack of dependable water resources has constituted an obstacle to agricultural productivity. Thus, development of irrigation farming should be encouraged.

(iv) Pests and Diseases

Diseases and pests of crops and livestocks constitute a real hazard to expanding food production in Africa, e.g. army worm, stem borer, rinderpest, foot and mouth diseases, etc.

(v) Inadequate Investment

Available FAO statistical data indicate that per capita total public expenditure on agriculture in Africa has been declining. The statistical data further show that the share of total public expenditure on food and agriculture to total public expenditure on all sectors has ranged from only 5.9 per cent for Central and West Africa to 13.4 per cent for East and Southern Africa. The external commitment in the food and agriculture sector has been inadequate to fill in the gap between domestic investment and the level of investment required to attain the set objectives of food self- sufficiency.

(vi) Terms of Trade

Most African countries have been facing unfair terms of trade, something which has resulted in low value and volume of exports, inaccessibility to external markets and inability to cover cost of food imports.

(vii) Food Aid

The dependence of Africa on food aid has been steadily growing since the 1960s. Food aid tends to reduce incentives for domestic food production and also tends to change the food habits of the consumers. Basically, food aid should be considered as an emergency measure for a short period of time.

(viii) Limited Co-ordination and Co-operation among African Countries

Co-ordination and co-operation between countries in programmes and projects designed to fight crop pests, diseases, drought, desertification, water resources development, intra-african trade, improved transport and communication, pooling of resources, etc., are very poor and low. In addition, national governments are not seen establishing appropriate bodies to deal with this problem.

(ix) Limited Coordination and Harmonization among Organizations

The activities of all the agencies and organizations that are concerned with food, agriculture, nutrition and health lack coordination and harmonization for effectively tackling the problem of food shortage and malnutrition.

(D) Recommendations

1. A strong national and regional political will should be generated so as to channel a much greater volume of resources to agriculture, food and nutrition and to accord them highest priority.

2. Food production should be increased in order to create food security in Member countries.

3. Increased productivity should be enhanced at the small farmer's level.

4. The importance of the increased role of women in agriculture and food production should be recognized and encouraged.

5. All the necessary agricultural services and inputs should be made available.

6. The on-going as well as new efforts in utilizing the complementarity of resource endowments between countries should be intensified.

7. Appropriate mechanisms should be developed for the training of manpower at different levels.

8. Communication and transportation infrastructure should be developed in order to encourage food production.

(E) References

1. FAO 1985-1991, The State of Food and Agriculture.

2. Nur, I.M. 1988, Agriculture, Food and Nutrition in Africa. Proceedings of Third Africa Food and Nutrition Congress, 5-8 September 1988, Harare, Zimbabwe. Volume 1.

3. Eicher, C.K. and Babu 1982, Research on Agricultural Development in Sub-Sahara Africa.

4. OAU 1980, Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa, 1980-2000.

5. FAO 1979, The struggle for Food Security.

6. FAO 1978, Regional Food Plan for Africa.




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African Countries with Population Commissions and Explicit

Population Policies.

Name of Population

Major objectives of

Population Policy
Date of


Algeria National Population Council To lower population growth
Burkina-Faso National Population Council To maintain current growth rate and balance population distribution as well as to improve the health of women and children.
Cameroon Cameroon National Population Commission To improve population distribution and to lower fertility and sterility.
Congo National Population Council To raise the already high population growth rate.
Egypt National Population Council To lower population growth.
Ethiopia National Population Council To create harmony between population dynamics and the national economy.
Gambia National Population Commission To reduce population growth and maternal mortality.
Ghana National Population Council The lower population growth and decelerate distribution.
Guinea National Population Commission To improve the health status of women and children.
Kenya National Council for Population and Development To lower population growth.
Liberia To lower population growth and maintain the current population size.
Madagascar Population Division, Ministry of Planning. To lower population growth
Mauritius National Population Commission To lower population growth
Namibia National Committee on Population To balance population distribution and to regulate labour migration
Niger National Population Commission To lower population growth
Nigeria National Population Commission To lower population growth
Rwanda National Population Office To lower population growth
Sao Tome & Principe National Population Commission To maintain the existing high growth rate.
Senegal National Population Commission To lower population growth and improve the quality of life.
To lower population growth.
Sierra Leone National Population Commission To lower population growth.
Sudan National Population Commission To lower population growth
Tunisia National Population Commission To lower population growth
Zambia Establishment of national population planning underway To control early marriage and to lower population growth