By Ikenna Osuoha/Justina Auta
Ms Ulla Muller, the Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria, says Family Planning and education are major drivers of Demographic Dividends (DD).
She made this known on Sunday during a virtual Forum with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Demographic Dividends is the accelerated economic growth that can result from improved reproductive health, decline in fertility, and the subsequent shift in population age structure.
With fewer births each year, a country’s working-age population grows larger, relative to the young dependent population, resulting in improved economy, per capital income and a healthy nation.
Muller, who emphasised the importance of having a highly educated population that would drive a robust and independent economy, said Family Planning and education were key to rescuing growing economies such as Nigeria from the doldrums of demographic crisis.
She said “you need to have a very educated population that will turn the economy around; an economy that will not be dependent anymore but independent; if we focus on education in harnessing Family Planning, the country will achieve Demographic Dividends.”
She, therefore, urged government to invest massively in education and Family Planning to reap the benefits.
She called for collaboration between stakeholders and government to transform the population from liability to asset, using Family Planning.
She explained that in discussing sensitive issues such as population, Family Planning was critical, noting that the UNFPA only serve as facilitator and advocate, as communities must own up, since concepts like Family Planning was not part of the culture.
“So, we engage the communities, women groups, religious and traditional leaders and Civil Society Organisations to explain the concept.”
The UNFPA boss said that the concept of Family Planning was far from the misconception of depopulation and had nothing to do with population control.
She added that “Family Planning is not about how many children you will have, it is about having the number of children you want in a safe way; it is about a child surviving at five, it is also about preventing Maternal Mortality and ensuring that no health complications come to the mother.
“Actually, a woman can bear 10 or 11 children in a healthy way during her reproductive years. You don’t have to do that in 10 years, you can spread them out, and that is when Family Planning comes in and that will make the burden lighter.”
On rejection of the child spacing methods in many communities in the country, Muller said
“it is no secret that uptake of Family Planning has stagnated in the last seven to eight years for many reasons; it is the right of every woman to choose the number of children she wants, but there is the need for her to spread them and be safe. It is very important.”