, vice president of International Programs at the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), recently attended the Kenya National Leaders Conference on Population and Development
, November 15-17, at the Kenyatta International Conference Center in Nairobi. During the conference, he produced a series of posts for PRB’s Behind the Numbers
on some of his impressions. Gribble focuses on Kenya’s resurgent interest in integrating population issues
into the development agenda, the country’s ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the importance of family planning.
Below are the introductory excerpts from his posts; to read the full posts, please visit Behind the Numbers.
“Anticipating Change in Kenya”
Sitting in the hall where Kenya’s National Leaders Conference will be starting in a few minutes, I can’t help but feel that there is an opportunity to refocus national attention to development…to the goal that I have heard repeatedly of becoming a Middle Income country. And to achieve this goal, they must first recognize that population is an underpinning development issue that cannot be ignored.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Kenya was a leader in reproductive health and maternal health, really setting a pace for the continent. But during the 2000s, Kenya turned its attention to other pressing issues – namely HIV/AIDS – and began to give less attention to population issues. Though HIV continues to be a plague, it is now time to return to the importance of slowing population growth, for until this fundamental issues is addressed, there will be less opportunity for education, jobs, and better health. At the same time, as a predominantly rural country with agriculture representing a major part of the economy, smaller families will be critical to maintaining farms that are large enough to feed families and the country.
Continue on PRB.
“As the Rich Get Richer, the Poor Get Children”
The Kenya National Leaders Conference has begun, representing the first time since 1989 that Kenya’s national population policy has been discussed in a large, open forum. With a new national constitution, Kenya is poised to redress many of the social and economic inequalities that have stood in the way of its development. In fact, the current population policy expires in December, 2010, and one of the purposes of this conference is to gather the input from leaders throughout the country on how a new policy should be framed. I find it impressive that such a large conference is convened to ensure that a new policy reflects the needs of the nation. The conference is also a forum for reaching leaders with important information about the need to address population growth through family planning if Kenya is to achieve its Vision 2030 development plan.
Continue on PRB.
“In Kenya, Prioritizing Population…and Family Planning”
As Kenya’s National Leaders Conference on Population and Development winds down today, it offers leaders an opportunity not only to think and talk about how population growth is an issue that underlies the country’s development, but to act on it too. Whether thinking about business, agriculture, or the environment, it is impossible to be strategic about Kenya’s future without also considering how rapid population growth will affect it.
In talking with Kenyans who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s – back when family planning and population growth were a priority – they remember the messages that were at the tips of people’s tongues – smaller families live better. Before the HIV/AIDS epidemic, family planning and slowing population growth was a priority and a source of national pride because it put Kenya on track for prosperity and development.
Continue on PRB.
Photo Credit: Adapted from “King Kenyatta?” courtesy of flickr user rogiro.