›A recent radio interview on the “Demographics of the Arab World” should be a must listen for those in the World Bank, where discussions of the Arab youth bulge are largely off the table.
The interview with Magda Abu-Fadil of the American University of Beirut and Bernard Haykel of Princeton University suggests that scholars of the Arab world are not so timid, as also evidenced by UNDP’s 2009 Arab Human Development Report.
However, during the interview with Abu-Fadil and Haykel, Worldfocus’ Martin Savidge falls victim to two significant misconceptions that are worth mentioning for their pervasiveness among political science and economics communities:
- Savidge believes that countries tend to risk political violence when their percentage of young adults is above 35 percent. This is close, but not quite correct. It’s the proportion of young adults in the adult population – i.e., the working-age population, as opposed to the population in general – that indicates a risk of fractious politics. Children (those below the age of 14) should not be counted in this indicator, yet in much of the literature they mistakenly are.
- Savidge believes that large numbers of youth are an economic “good deal.” Here, Abu-Fadil and Haykel set him straight, noting that a bulge among the young adult population produces a demographic bonus only when fertility has significantly declined; the childhood cohorts are small and the subject of increased investment; and the youth moving into adulthood are educated.
Big changes could occur along the edges of the Arab world in the coming decade. Fertility decline, more recently, has made its way to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, although they still need a champion for women’s rights. Turkey had Ataturk, Iran had Reza Shah, and Tunisia had Habib Bourguiba. It’s no accident that these countries were the first to experience fertility decline and age structural changes—their leaders laid the groundwork decades ago.
Can a leader, however, with that amount of political guts and conviction emerge from the Saudi royal family? I’m doubtful.
Richard Cincotta is demographer-in-residence at the H.L. Stimson Center in Washington, DC.
Photo: Yemeni children courtesy Flickr user kebnekaise.
›The Last Stand of the Gorilla – Environmental Crime and Conflict in the Congo Basin places responsibility for the decline of gorilla populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its surrounding region squarely on the shoulders of resource-hungry militants, who poach gorilla bushmeat to feed hungry soldiers and mine workers and sell in local markets. Militants extract timber, charcoal, diamonds, and other resources to raise funds for arms, reducing gorilla territory.
Yet another rationale is retaliation against park rangers who attempt to limit their illegal activities within national parks. In the process, park rangers have found themselves, their parks, and their endangered charges targets of militant groups seeking to plunder and traffic goods through protected areas. “In Virunga Park alone, 190 park rangers have been killed in the last 15 years,” notes the report, which is also available in an interactive e-book edition.
Conflict with local communities also frequently leads to the slaughter of the gorillas and loss of their habitats. Displaced people and refugees also compete with gorillas for land. In several cases, gorillas facing shrinking natural domains have satisfied their appetites in banana plantations, and local farmers have struck back.
Not all, however, is dire. The report finds several success stories stemming out of transboundary law enforcement collaboration and recommends increased training and support for local and international law enforcement groups. “The gorillas are yet another victim of the contempt shown by organized criminal gangs for national and international laws aimed at defending wildlife,” said David Higgins, Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme Manager. “The law enforcement response must be internationally coordinated, strong, and united, and Interpol is uniquely placed to facilitate this.”
Law enforcement in the Congo Basin faces an uphill battle, in part due to conditions present in peace agreements between guerillas and the Congolese government. Removing vehicle checkpoints from important border crossings was key to the insurgents agreeing to peace. While these agreements reduced violence, they have created a highway for illegal exports. This trade props up the militant groups and undercuts the chances for peace on a regional scale. It is an example of how large remaining quantities of automatic weapons and turns to poaching by ex-militants can render post-conflict environments even more damaging to local wildlife than war itself.
In some locations, conflicts between gorillas and local farmers are disappearing with the construction of natural barriers and as local populations realize the potential of ecotourism to generate greater revenue from thriving gorilla populations than collapsing ones. Greater international coordination and local commitment, however, are necessary. Turning threatening competition into beneficial cooperation is possible.
Tara Innes is a PhD student at the University of Maryland, studying conflict-environment linkages.
Photos: Gorilla, courtesy Flickr user mrflip; Gorilla Territory Affected by War, Mining, and Logging courtesy UNEP/GRID-Arendal.
›“The Traditional image of life in tented sprawling camps no longer tells the full refugee story.”– Hidden and Exposed: Urban Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya
Coinciding with the end of UN-HABITAT’s 5th World Urban Forum, a new report and associated video, Hidden and Exposed: Urban Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, have been released by the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Hidden and Exposed removes the cloak of migration stereotypes and provides an unfiltered look at urban migrants’ struggle for daily survival. Focusing on seven neighborhoods with high refugee concentrations in Nairobi, the authors — through qualitative interviews and secondary data — found a unique, challenging urban environment for thousands of refugees. Aid and development groups often overlook these urban refugees, instead favoring work with traditional established camps on the urban periphery.
The HPG found that Nairobi’s 46,000 registered refugees represent a diverse mix of ethnic groups and nationalities, all trying to secure economic independence and security. While much research has been devoted to the traditional concept of displaced migrants in centralized ex-urban camps, such as Dadaab in Eastern Kenya, urban dwellers are just as vulnerable to insecurity, poverty, and harassment. With nebulous legal rights, facing discrimination and protected by only fragile support systems, the refugee community in Nairobi finds itself in a precarious situation.
In light of the challenges, the research team at HPG offered three basic recommendations as initial steps:
- Address confusion over legal rights to prevent issues of police harassment and community violence.
- Target a subset of donor funds for training local police forces and government agencies.
- Establish partnerships between the UNHCR and the Kenyan government to improve the latter’s Refugee Status Determination System.
- Funnel humanitarian and development aid toward legal aid services while also using innovative strategies to increase dialogue between urban refugees and the surrounding Kenyan communities.
3. Service Delivery:
- Carry out surveys to better understand the Nairobi urban economy, including the informal sector.
- Support the government of Kenya in their efforts to help urban refugees to become self-reliant.
- Recognize the transition of refugees from sequestered camps to urban areas and develop an effective response.
- Secure Kenyan government permission for the issuance of work permits for refugees.
Fleeing conflict and attracted by the possibility of better jobs, services, or security, thousands of refugees have sought new lives in Nairobi. Yet the reality for many urban migrants is an existence burdened with inadequate assistance, a precarious legal status, and economic and physical insecurity. Through the implementation of these recommendations, HPG hopes to draw attention to these hidden refugees, and offer them the hope of improved livelihoods and effective security.
- Design aid models to address the unique challenges faced by urban refugees in Nairobi.
- Ensure coordinated and comprehensive services, in conjunction with the Kenyan government and international organizations, to address the needs of the urban refugees and the surrounding communities, with particular attention granted to refugee women and girls.
›March 30, 2010 // By Dan Asin
“The Department of Defense is not the U.S. government lead for climate change, but we certainly can show leadership in this area,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy Amanda Dory recently told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “That’s true of energy as well.”
›March 29, 2010 // By Geoff DabelkoForeign Policy’s Elizabeth Dickinson recently sat down with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres for a wide-ranging interview on the global refugee crisis. Yet a strong theme emerges across the continents: The complexity of today’s conflicts belies either easy or quick solutions.
In her very last question, Dickinson asks Guterres to name the biggest difference between 2005, when he started as High Commissioner, and 2010, the end of his term. In his final reflection, he speaks directly to the importance of interactions among “mega-trends,” which are commonly lumped together as “global issues:”
But what we’re witnessing now more and more is a certain number of mega-trends interacting with one another: population growth, urbanization, food insecurity, water scarcity, climate change, and conflict. More and more people are on the move for reasons that are sometimes difficult to differentiate. If a Somali crosses the Gulf of Aden, is it because of the conflict or because [there are no] jobs? Probably both.
Climate change [also] enhances conflict. If resources become scarce, people tend to fight for them. This is increasing the number of people on the move and the number of people forced to move. They’re not refugees, according to the legal definition, but they represent a major humanitarian and human rights challenge, as well as a major challenge for world politics.
Guterres points out the difficulty in differentiating among the diverse drivers of modern migration. The precise impacts of climate change on migration (and whether those movements will be a force for peace or conflict) are critical yet vexing topics for the emerging climate-security field. Simplifying the complex causal connections into bumper sticker-friendly advocacy messages has led to the unhelpful (and legally inaccurate) use of the term “climate refugees.”
Guterres highlights the complexity of migration rather than ignoring it—a constant temptation when the ultimate goal is implementing coordinated policy responses. Fortunately, such nuanced problem diagnoses of population dynamics are becoming more common.
In his most recent contribution to Foreign Affairs, “The New Population Bomb: Four Megatrends That Will Change the World,” George Mason University’s Jack Goldstone brings a similar understanding to the complex issue of population, identifying four future trends that will have more impact than growth rates alone:
- Demographic decline in developed countries will shift economic power to developing countries.
- Aging populations in developed countries will increase demand for immigrant workers.
- Population growth will be concentrated in the poorest, youngest, and most heavily Muslim countries.
- Most of the world’s population will be urbanized, with the largest centers in the poorest countries.
- Developed nations should “build effective alliances with the growing powers of the new Second World” (e.g., Brazil, China, Iran, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam) by expanding the G8 and the European Union.
- NATO should expand its membership and activities to include “large and strategic Second and Third World powers.”
- Developed nations should encourage immigration from “young, underemployed, and unstable populations in developing countries.”
By ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko
Photo: Kenyan refugee, courtesy Flickr user Zoriah; UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, courtesy Flickr user Crossroads Foundation Photos; Professor Jack Goldstone, courtesy Dave Hawxhurst
- Demographic decline in developed countries will shift economic power to developing countries.
›Maintaining the Momentum: Highlights From the Uganda International Conference on Family Planning on March 16. Rogo made the strong statement during the landmark November 2009 conference in Kampala, which has renewed interest in family planning and reproductive health among African leaders and development partners. Rhonda Smith of the Population Reference Bureau and Sahlu Haile of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation joined Tsui, the director of The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute of Population & Reproductive Health, to discuss their impressions of the Kampala conference and what it means for the future of family planning in Africa.
“An event that happened at the right time”
“Kampala was the work of a community,” said Tsui. More than 50 organizations—the U.S. Agency for International Development, the UN Population Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Gates and Packard Foundations—convened in Uganda, which was chosen not only for its central location, but also to highlight the country’s soaring unmet need for contraception—41 per cent—and rapid 3.1 percent population growth rate.
- Integrating family planning into HIV/AIDS care
- Integrating family planning in post-abortion, postpartum, child, and other primary health care
- Expanding contraception delivery services by community health workers
- Increasing outreach to youth and men
- Capitalizing on private and public innovations in service delivery and financing
- The United States announced its foreign assistance budget will increase support for family planning from $450 million to $715 million for the next fiscal year.
- The Global Health Initiative identified maternal/child health and family planning as one of its main priority themes.
- Secretary of State Clinton positively discussed girls’ education, family planning, and reproductive health at the ICPD + 15 anniversary.
- The Women Deliver 2010 Conference, to be held in June, has identified family planning as a third pillar of maternal health.
Uganda on the Move
Rhonda Smith’s presentation “Uganda on the Move”—which she also presented in Uganda—is a prototype of the Population Reference Bureau’s new ENGAGE (Eliminating National Gaps—Advancing Global Equity) project, which is designed to “engage policy audiences and promote policy dialogue around issues of high fertility and high unmet need for family planning and their costs, consequences, and solutions,” she said. By using stunning, innovative graphics and avoiding confounding technical terms, ENGAGE’s products are designed to reach non-technical policy audiences and influential decision-makers.
As one of the Uganda conference’s most talked about presentations, “Uganda on the Move” wows audiences with visuals created using Hans Rosling’s Trendalyzer software. The presentation shows that although Ugandans are increasingly healthier, have a higher life expectancy, and are more educated, maternal health remains in jeopardy. Tellingly, 46 percent of pregnancies in the country are unplanned, 6,000 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy, and 1,200 women die each year from undergoing unsafe abortions.
Maternal deaths, however, do not tell the whole story: For every one woman dying, Smith said, 20-30 women suffer from short-term disability, which places a major strain on economic growth. From 2004 to 2013, maternal death will cost Uganda US$350 million in lost productivity; and disability will cost and additional US$750 million.
What Next? The African Perspective
“After 10 years of virtual clandestine work, [family planning] is just coming out of the closet,” said Sahlu Haile. Over the last few decades, family planning advocates have been struggling to: 1) keep family planning alive—without it being affected by political considerations 2) make family planning a health priority, without any associations with rights violations; and 3) be in solidarity with pioneering organizations of the family planning movement, like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, that were victims of discriminatory funding decisions.
The Uganda conference changed all that, said Haile. In Uganda, conference attendees were “talking about family planning…not reproductive health, not maternal/child health.” This, he said, was “probably the single most important lesson…that I took from the Kampala conference.”
Following the conference, Haile said that African government officials stressed family planning as a priority at meetings in Ethiopia and Nigeria—the first time he had witnessed such high-level attention to family planning from those countries in his 30-year career.
In Ethiopia, African leaders pledged to:
- Prioritize family planning, since family planning is one of the most cost-effective development investments;
- Ensure access to contraception, as 40 percent of maternal deaths are associated with unwanted pregnancies; and
- Integrate MDG 5b, universal access to reproductive health, into their international development plans and budgets.
Haile credited the Kampala conference for spurring these efforts. In December, he joined a task force of 14 Ethiopian organizations to plan the next steps. They will jointly develop research capacities, generate evidence, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation practices, especially with regard to integrating population, health, and environment efforts. In addition, they will engage with wider audiences via new tools such as the blog RH RealityCheck and Gapminder Foundation’s Trendalyzer program.
Haile believes we need to “work together to encourage national-level efforts…to make sure family planning stays where it is now and make sure it is not abandoned.”
To be a part of the new online family planning community, join the Kampala Conversation.
Photo 1: A women and her children in Jinja, Uganda. Courtesy Flickr user cyclopsr. Photos of Amy Tsui, Rhonda Smith, and Sahlu Haile courtesy of Dave Hawxhurst, Woodrow Wilson Center.
›Worldfocus recently featured two pieces on the Arab world’s burgeoning population. “Demographics of the Arab World,” a radio broadcast, brings together Magda Abu-Fadil of the American University in Beirut and Bernard Haykel of Princeton University for a look at the region’s demographic trends. Despite possessing different political systems and being at different levels of economic development, demographic challenges of youth bulges, emigration, and gender gaps are common to countries across the Arab world. “Arab World Experiences Rapid Population Explosion,” a written interview with demographer Patrick Gerland of the United Nations Population Division, tackles similar issues. Topics of discussion include demographic variations between Middle Eastern nations, fertility rates, the consequences of the region’s youth bulge, and best- and worst-case scenarios for the Arab world’s future.
State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide is the most recent edition of UN-HABITAT’s biennial outlook into global population centers. Analyzing the “the complex social, political, economic, and cultural dynamics of urban environments,” the report explores the “ways in which many urban dwellers are excluded from the advantages of city life.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon draws a connection between cities and climate change in the report’s preface, writing, “With over half the world’s population now living in cities, and cities making a disproportionate contribution to climate change, urbanization is one of the ‘crucial agendas’ of our time.”
›March 25, 2010 // By ECSP Staff7.0 magnitude earthquake in Port-au Prince, Haiti, the country still needs assistance to provide basic healthcare and shelter, in addition to rebuilding Haiti’s economy, government, and institutions. As the international community and NGOs make the transition from emergency disaster relief to long-term reconstruction and capacity-building efforts, donor coordination and long-term commitment are crucial. Recently, on Capitol Hill, a panel of experts organized by Wilson Center on the Hill and the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program discussed Haiti’s continuing problems and challenges.
Johanna Mendelson Forman, a senior associate for the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stressed that progress in Haiti will take time—perhaps five years to rebuild and 10 years to see positive economic growth. This timeline is often frustrating for donors—including Congress and U.S. citizens—who want to see immediate results, she noted. Nevertheless, Mendelson Forman discounted the myth that “because Haiti is a weak state it is not a sovereign state,” and emphasized that developing and strengthening the Haitian government remains necessary.
She observed that the post-earthquake efforts in Haiti have been different from previous United Nations interventions, particularly in terms of the Latin American community’s involvement. Brazil, for example, is leading relief operations. Other Latin American countries—including Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic—have committed to promoting a stable and secure Haiti. Here Mendelson Forman noted a new partnership initiated by the Dominican and Haitian governments. “[Dominican officials] understand that they are doomed if Haiti is doomed,” she said. “As members of the international community, it is our job to foster that reconciliation.”
Costs Are Rising
Andrew Philip Powell, a regional economic advisor in the Caribbean Country Department at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said that while the IDB initially estimated damage from the earthquake at about $8 billion, the complete destruction of the government and commerce centered in Port-au-Prince could push that number much higher. The IDB and partner organizations are currently conducting a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment that will ultimately identify the official damages and ballpark the cost of reconstruction.
Powell stated that Haiti is “not starting from a blank slate,” citing a development strategy agreed upon in April 2009 by the Haitian government and international donors. In keeping with the strategy, he emphasized the need for effective coordination between donors and the Haitian government. At the same time, he said it is vital to encourage population dispersion by shifting government agencies and private-sector jobs to other parts of the country. Haiti needs roads and communication networks outside of the capital area, as well as export processing zones in outlying regions, to increase the economic opportunities outside of Port-au-Prince, he said.
However, with the large amounts of aid flowing into the country, Powell warned donors and Haitian officials to remain on the lookout for “Dutch disease”—a decline in the manufacturing sector following a sharp increase in natural resource prices, foreign assistance, or foreign direct investment. Its occurrence could increase Haiti’s dependency on aid in the future.
Challenges for Healthcare
Sheri Fink, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and senior fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, offered her perspective on Haiti’s continuing health crisis based on two trips to the country in the earthquake’s aftermath. There are signs of hope, including some normalcy and commerce returning to the camps, she noted, but problems in the health sector as a whole are increasing. As field hospitals put in place after the earthquake close, “there is a fear among Haitians that attention is starting to turn elsewhere,” she said.
According to Fink, “the work is far from done” in Haiti, a sentiment she said is shared by many departing health workers. The hospitals left standing are not prepared to deal with the influx of patients arriving at their doors following the closure of field hospitals, and government health workers are currently working without pay.
Fink also pointed out the risk of long-term earthquake-related health problems, including injuries suffered during aftershocks or from falling debris, inflamed chronic diseases, horrible conditions and lack of basic health services in camps, and the “looming nightmare” of infectious disease epidemics.
Fink called for more international involvement to avert a widening of the health crisis. “We’ve made a big commitment and to follow-up on the investment, to make it mean something; let’s not be satisfied with just bringing things back to where they were,” she said.
By Sarah Huston and David Klaus of Wilson Center on the Hill at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Photo: Courtesy Flickr user United Nations Development Programme
Join the Conversation
- Emerging Priorities for Maternal Health in Nigeria (Abuja and Washington, DC) Friday, December 5, 2014
- Living Through Extremes: Building Livelihood Resilience Across Sectors and Countries Thursday, December 4, 2014
- The Resilience Beat: Reporting on Climate, Population, and Health Wednesday, December 3, 2014
- Climate Change Could Cause 18 Percent Drop In Food Production By 2050, Study Says
- Will Population Growth End in This Century?
- REDD and the Green Economy Continue to Undermine Rights
- UN sends team to clean up Sunderbans oil spill in Bangladesh
- Thai government censured for failure to tackle lead pollution