The director general of the National Council of Population Development (NCPD) challenged policymakers from across ministries to adopt cross-sectoral integration of population, health, environment and development especially in ensuring prioritization of reproductive health and family planning.
Speaking in Nairobi while officiating the opening session of a two-day capacity building workshop for policy makers drawn from various government ministries, Dr. Mohamed Sheikh said without integrating these issues, the multiple challenges due to climate change and environmental degradation on population health could undermine development efforts the country desires.
“The country has no other option but leverage on the interconnectedness of Population, Environment and Development (PED) approaches in policy formulation,” he said.
Dr Sheikh said population health and well being as well as the age structure have been identified as critical building block for achieving sustainable development.
He lauded policy makers from ministries of planning, environment, gender and youth, health and the national environment and management authority (NEMA) for accepting to undergo the capacity strengthening session on PHED and demographic dividend plus Environment (DD+E) which aims at leveraging the knowledge and skills that will facilitate the implementation of integrated plans and ensure reproductive health family planning is prioritized.
He urged the policymakers to use knowledge and skills acquired to facilitate mainstreaming of Population, Health, Environment and Development (PHED) in the national policies and programmes to accelerate the realization of national development goals and aspirations together with the global commitment of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The Population, Health, Environment and Development (PHED) capacity building workshop is taking place a time when Kenya is facing severe challenges due to rapid population growth, environmental degradation and the effects of climate change.
In addition, the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2019 shows that one in five women aged 15-49 years have an unmnet need for voluntary family planning, implying that women of reproductive age get pregnant probably at a time they may not need it due to lack of access to modern contraception.
Clive Mutunga, USAID-funded BUILD Project Director said issues around population dynamics are central to the development efforts in low and medium income countries.
“We know that these issues are very connected. You cannot talk about economic growth when you don’t talk about the other sectors like the social sector as well as the environmental sector. So we really have to foster cross sectoral integration to increase financial and political commitment for voluntary family planning and reproductive health,” said director of the BUILD project, who jointly with the NCPD supported the workshop.
The USAID-funded BUILD project is a consortium of the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in Kenya, the Leadership in Environment and Development Southern and Eastern Africa (LEADSEA) in Malawi, the FHI360 in Cote d’Ivoire and the Path Foundation of Philippines.
According to Dr Bernard Onyango, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the AFIDEP said the desired position for Kenya to benefit from the demographic dividend is having a youthful population that is more educated, trained and skilled youths in productive labour and less dependent population.
Currently, the situation is that majority of youths under 35 still depend on their aging parents, making it hard for the country to meet expected level of development in the likes of Malaysia or south Korea.