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POPULATION POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES/ INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS

After the introductory text, this page is divided into three sections:

 

       Achievements & best practices

 

       Constraints

 

       Recommendations for the way forward

 

Visit the Policy and development strategies proceedings section to read the proceedings related to this thematic area.

 

 

 

The ICPD-PA calls for the development of population policies that (i) will ensure equality and equity between men and women and enable the latter to reach their full potential; (ii) involve women fully in decision-making and ensure their education; (iii) are sensitive and supportive of the family; (iv) protect and support potentially vulnerable groups; that ensure effective access to adequate health information and services, especially for underserved and vulnerable groups; (v) promote a more balanced geographical distribution of population; (vi) extend and expand education; (vii) strengthen programme management, including client-oriented management information systems, and mobilise resources for investments in the social sectors; and (viii) integrate NGOs, women's organisations and local community groups into decision-making.

 

The ICPD-PA (i) specifically recognized the need for demographic, social and economic data for determining priorities, formulating policies and programmes and assessing their impact; (ii) advised governments to strengthen national capacity to carry out sustained and comprehensive programmes to collect, analyse, disseminate and utilise gender-desegregated population and development data; (iii) urged states to set up or enhance national databases to provide information that can be used to measure or assess progress towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of NPPs; (iv) urged them to focus on the determinants and consequences of induced abortion, linkages between women's roles and status and demographic and development processes and interactions among population problems, poverty, patterns of over-consumption and environmental degradation and for governments to strengthen training and research in population and development issues and to ensure wide dissemination of research findings; (v) requested governments to increase the skill level and accountability of managers and others involved in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NPPs; and (vi) called upon the international community to assist governments in organising national-level follow-up, including capacity building for project formulation and programme management, and in strengthening co-ordination and evaluation mechanisms.

 

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Achievements and best practices

Major changes are taking place in the ways in which policies are formulated. In many ECA member States the policy formulation process specifically provides for a wide range of concerned individuals and groups (the stakeholders and their representatives) to participate in discussions, information exchange, debates and even decisions regarding national and sub-national policies.

 

A major theme of the recent policies is the need to expand "male involvement", both in order to overcome resistance to "FP" and to get men more actively involved in planning and implementing population activities. A significant development following ICPD-PA has been the integration of population concerns in policies and programmes aimed at eliminating gender disparities and discrimination. Equally significant is the inclusion of issues which relate to the family; refugees and displaced persons; protection of the environment; and, in some cases, poverty alleviation.

 

National health policies and programmes have identified RH issues and needs and have foreseen measures to increase access to RH information and services as well as to improve the quality of care. In the same vein, national social development policies and programmes increasingly recognise the potential contribution of FP information and services to improving the well-being of women and their families and stress the need for effective measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS (Table 1).

 

Education policies and programmes in many of the States are addressing the needs of young persons for accurate and complete information about RH, RRs and the importance of responsible behaviour. They also recognise that the youth should receive balanced and relatively thorough information about the causes and consequences of high fertility, high mortality and rapid urbanisation. In many of the States, the Ministry of Education curriculum specialists and decision-makers are increasingly consulting community leaders, teachers and parents' associations in order to secure support and consent for introduction of family life subjects in the school programme.

 

In sum, in a significant number of member States, the degree of belief in the importance of the population and development nexus especially among central level policy makers and the recognition of the complex interrelationships between population, development, gender, and environment has grown considerably. For instance, there is increased incorporation of population, development and environment relationships into the school curricula. Malawi has introduced such content in all its schools; most other States are at various stages of pilot testing. Population policies are more widely recognized as of national, and not simply as donor driven and are increasingly seen as necessary frameworks to provide legitimacy for new, relatively sensitive population activities such as provision of services to adolescents.

 

With regard to population/development planning, member States are only now beginning to grapple with the challenges of responding to the demise of medium to long term central development planning and of the units to geographic and sectoral decentralization. Achievements include training of significant numbers of planners in sectoral and sub-national planning units, of improvements in some States in using population data in short term sectoral planning and of the increased utilization of gender desegregated data, much of which existed previously but remained unused, in assessing the status of women. Many States prepare "framework", "perspective" or "rolling" development plans or programmes; these plans often focus on sectors, such as education, health, energy and infrastructure, which are widely regarded as priorities for government action.

 

Several member States are actively pursuing the goal of creating a national population database both to facilitate integration of population variables in planning and contribute to the formulation, implementation and evaluation of a wide range of population programmes. Many of these states are currently engaged in planning, launching and/or implementing information systems for health management. Many states have established or designated NPCs or inter-departmental or inter-ministerial bodies to over see and monitor implementation of the ICPD-PA. NGO's are involved in some of these bodies.

 

Table 11 indicates that 77 per cent of the States increased their spending on each of RH and FP services, primary health care services, STDs and female school enrolment followed by RH needs for adolescents (64 per cent). In most member States, research has been launched and/or completed in such areas as RH needs; trends in fertility and mortality and their determinants and consequences; poverty, demographic trends and the status of women; interrelationships between fertility attitudes and behaviour and family structures and values; factors which facilitate and impede integration of RH services in primary health care; harmful traditional practices; determinants of programme impact; and the overall policy environment.

 

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Constraints

At a general level, the overriding contextual factor limiting progress in the PDS sector is an increasingly difficult macro and micro economic environment in which an atmosphere of competing crises prevails and limits resources available for the development and implementation of NPPs. The second such factor is the recurring loss of trained personnel, both to desired improved remuneration and AIDS. The shortage of, qualified personnel has become a greater problem since Cairo because most States are attempting to decentralize their population and development planning functions which are yet to be institutionalized in the capital cities where trained personnel are relatively more available. It remains to be seen whether in States where this is being attempted, decentralization of these functions can work well under current limitations.

 

There are more technical constraints. NPPs in the post ICPD era are expected to be conceptually more people centered; institutionally aimed at establishing NPCs with vertical and horizontal linkages capable of instituting effective decentralization; and strategically and operationally based on relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of population and development activities. Besides, they should include core activities as advocacy, assessment of capacity at national and sub-national levels, mobilization of resources and various forms of support. Additionally, they should be integrated in the overall socio-economic framework and provide support for research, analysis, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation. But with the indicated new desiderata for NPPs, prioritizing among objectives and monitoring compliance have become much more complicated than in the pre-ICPD period.

 

Most of the member States either lack or have rather limited knowledge of the value of socio-economic indicators needed for the formulation, implementation, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of NPPs. Other constraints include (Table 9) inadequate integration of population variables in development planning (77 per cent of the member States); low priority for population IEC activities (62per cent); the lack of clearly defined strategies for the implementation of population policies and programs (56per cent); lack of national technical capabilities to establish population and development interrelationships (50per cent); and lack of skills for the promotion and implementation of population policies and programs (39per cent).

 

Besides, political instability and associated high staff turnover (58per cent) is a major constraint to programme implementation. The frequent changes in government structures and implementing institutions in many States has resulted in high turnover of key personnel and disrupts continuity within inter-ministerial/sectoral structures. Some States have embarked on decentralisation without the requisite human and material resources required and efficient central co-ordination. Economic and financial constraints also militate against the development of effective NPPs (Table 12). The lead economic factor is implementation of adjustment programs (78per cent) followed by the persistence of socio-economic crisis (76per cent); and abandoning of the medium and long term planning in the face of SAPs (51per cent). The financial ones include difficulty in mobilizing domestic resources for population programs (81per cent); insufficient external financial resources for population programs (55per cent); inadequate funding of population activities (55per cent); and population activities not assigned a budget line in the national budget (39per cent).

 

International organisations have played a significant role in assisting the population and development programmes of ECA member States. The implications of the heavy dependence on external funding of population and development activities are more than evident. Inability of Governments to provide counterpart funding or direct population and development activities on their terms has led to the slow progress in the formulation and implementation of NPPs. For instance, most AIDS control programmes have been experiencing problems of co-ordination among the several actors who sprung up during the period when donor funding was easily available. As funds became scarce, most of the activities got grounded. There has also been lack of capacity or inability to utilise all the funds provided by development partners.

 

It is presently difficult to estimate the value of resources which are mobilised domestically for the implementation of population activities. (UNFPA is collaborating with the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Institute in efforts to collect data on flows of international financial assistance for population activities as well as data on domestic resources, including Government budgetary allocations and expenditures, NGO resource allocations and private sector expenditures for population programmes.) This is largely due to (i) utilisation of the resources for implementing population activities that are funded under various budget headings such as "primary health career", "teacher training", "statistics", and "economic planning"; (ii) mobilisation of resources at different levels of government by different implementers; (iii) the accounting systems used make it very difficult to impute the value of office premises, equipment and/or common services.

 

The data collection and analysis component of population programmes has been the hardest hit in terms of reductions in both international funding and local contributions. Most past censuses had been largely donor funded. The current economic crises have made it difficult for governments to be providing the funds required to conduct censuses. In view of competing needs, governments have given rather low priority to other data collection and research operations. At the same time, donor agencies have almost unilaterally reduced or withdrawn funding for censuses.

 

This trend is rather too abrupt and unfortunately is affecting the availability of baseline data required for the formulation of policies and programmes as well as their follow-up and evaluation. In most States, census and survey data have become obsolete and need to be updated to provide sufficiently desegregated data by gender; no functional data banks have been created as yet so as to pool all the vital population-related data, documentation and other information. Indeed, nationally representative surveys like the World Fertility Survey (WFS) and Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) have been quite instrumental in the updating of data and in the highlighting of fertility, morbidity and other related behaviour but they cannot go beyond a certain level of geographical desegregation.

 

The foregoing findings are all related to the process of integrating population variables in development planning. Among the barriers still to be overcome are the intellectual difficulty of defining integration; the lack of a critical mass of needed trained human resources; and the inadequacy of data on the linkages between population and development. There is also the lack of constructive dialogue between the policy makers and the researchers particularly in the area of determining the indicated linkages simultaneously with the development of techniques for modeling the latter.

 

Two main limitations have been identified as accounting for the ineffective operationalization of the IPDP approach. In most explicit population policy documents, the indicated strategies for implementing the policy measures are rather too numerous. In a situation in which the sectoral ministries, charged with the implementation of these strategies, have their specialized functions to perform, they are apparently saddled with a rather heavy additional tasks, most of which they do not have the specialized capacity required for delivery. This becomes even more problematic in situations where no single body is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the implementation of the strategies. There is also the lack of a focus. The strategies identified are usually without a lead sector. By identifying a key sector and selecting a few critical sectors, both of these limitations can be contained especially as the policy document itself is a dynamic document that should be revisited as experience is gained and a critical mass of trained personnel is available.

 

Population and development units in some States have been created to take over the functions that were formerly performed by other government ministries. Unfortunately some of these units are not staffed with adequately trained and experienced personnel; accordingly many of them cannot function effectively. This problem is compounded in some cases by the fact that some of the institutions charged with the co-ordination of population-related activities are sometimes located too far down the administrative hierarchy and as such hardly command the respect of better placed line-ministries that should have collaborated with them in the implementation of the population and development programmes.

 

The data in Table 9 show that almost one-half of the States have inadequate technical capability to establish population and development interrelationships. It has therefore been difficult for these States to formulate and adopt clearly defined strategies for programme implementation. Programme co-ordination becomes difficult in the absence of clearly defined strategies since each actor tends to act independently of others. Many programme implementers lack the skills to promote the programmes. Lack of diversity in the available expertise at the national level is another important constraint.

 

The data in Table 10 highlight the importance of the factors that seriously constrain the implementation of the ICPD-PA recommendations. These include inadequate cooperation between government and NGO (63per cent of the member States); low degree of involvement of women in program formulation, implementation and evaluation as well as NGOs (56 - 68per cent); inadequate cooperation with international organizations (63 per cent); and lack of cooperation between the relevant sectoral ministries (56 per cent). In many of the States, there is lack of co-operation among the line ministries due largely to the struggle for supremacy and greater share of the resources for population and development projects. Table 10 also shows that co-ordination is a major constraint to programme implementation in the region. Inability to co-ordinate the activities of the foreign partners has also been identified by 69 percent of the States as an impediment to programme implementation.

 

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Recommendations for the way forward

The ICPD-PA calls for the development of population policies that (i) will ensure equality and equity between men and women and enable the latter to reach their full potential; (ii) involve women fully in decision-making and ensure their education; (iii) are sensitive and supportive of the family; (iv) protect and support potentially vulnerable groups; that ensure effective access to adequate health information and services, especially for underserved and vulnerable groups; (v) promote a more balanced geographical distribution of population; (vi) extend and expand education; (vii) strengthen programme management, including client-oriented management information systems, and mobilise resources for investments in the social sectors; and (viii) integrate NGOs, women's organisations and local community groups into decision-making.

 

The ICPD-PA (i) specifically recognized the need for demographic, social and economic data for determining priorities, formulating policies and programmes and assessing their impact; (ii) advised governments to strengthen national capacity to carry out sustained and comprehensive programmes to collect, analyze, disseminate and utilise gender-desegregated population and development data; (iii) urged states to set up or enhance national databases to provide information that can be used to measure or assess progress towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of NPPs; (iv) urged them to focus on the determinants and consequences of induced abortion, linkages between women's roles and status and demographic and development processes and interactions among population problems, poverty, patterns of over-consumption and environmental degradation and for governments to strengthen training and research in population and development issues and to ensure wide dissemination of research findings; (v) requested governments to increase the skill level and accountability of managers and others involved in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NPPs; and (vi) called upon the international community to assist governments in organizing national-level follow-up, including capacity building for project formulation and programme management, and in strengthening co-ordination and evaluation mechanisms. Accordingly, the meeting recommended that:

 
  • Policies adopted should have clearly defined objectives and strategies in order to be effectively implemented. Those member States that have not adopted population policies are urged to do so.

  • Integrated approach to population, environment, agriculture, technology etc., should be promoted in order to realize sustainable development.

  • The commitment of all actors in a society, the strengthening of the legislative action in population and development, strengthening of the institutional mechanisms and availability of services should be considered important factors for the successful implementation of population and development programmes.

  • Full involvement of the population at grass roots level and the NGO sector, including women's groups should be promoted at all levels of policy formulation and programme implementation.

  • Population policies should pay sufficient attention to the emerging demographic threats such as HIV/AIDS, impacts of wars and civil strife, etc.; the emerging reformed planning systems should be taken into account when integrating population factors into development plans; emphasis should also be given to capacity building at all levels and ways should be sought in order to minimize the problem of high turnover of staff; required population data as well as other socioeconomic indicators should be made available routinely and timely.

  • With a view to developing long-term vision and perspective on development issues, member States are urged to undertake appropriate analysis and research. Based on the results of such analysis and research they are further urged to integrate population and other relevant variables into over-arching development strategies. Full use of national expertise and greater reliance more on national resources are also strongly recommended.

  • Member States should ensure that coordination mechanisms have the authority and resources they require in order to carry out satisfactory their mandates.

  • The modalities of South-South cooperation should be encouraged and promoted in the context of greater exchange of information, research and training between and among the countries of the region. Institutional mechanisms such as, Partners in Population and Development should be given all possible support in this context.

  • Governments should have mechanisms for coordinating the policy formulation process as well as the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes.

  • Governments should clearly specify the mandate and the coordination mechanism of each institution.

  • Appropriate modalities for the monitoring and evaluation of the projects and programmes before or at the design stage should be established.

  • An appropriate budgetary allocation for the monitoring and evaluation processes at national and/or regional levels should be provided.

  • A network of database for periodic monitoring and evaluation of the projects and programmes should be established.

  • Governments should strengthen national capacities for research, data collection and analysis. In this connection, all research findings should be published and disseminated.

  • Governments should optimize their utilization of national regional training and research centres.

  • Efficient methods of recording in the civil registration systems and harmonizing such systems should be established.

  • Institutional mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and coordinating of population and development activities should be placed at the highest level possible within the governmental hierarchy with a view to ensuring effective implementation of their mandates.

  • Regional Training Institutions should: (i) continuously update training curricula to incorporate emerging issues and needs of member States, (ii) endeavour to reinforce closer collaboration between themselves and national training institutions to transfer skills and experience; and, (iii) diversify their funding sources and market their products in order to ensure their sustainability.

  • Member States should define training orientations for national, sub-regional and regional levels. Moreover, training in population should be assessed on the basis of projected personnel requirements and in light of the specific priorities and circumstances of the countries concerned.

  • The roles of national, sub-regional and regional training institutions should be determined in light of their comparative advantages and with a view to realizing the best possible synergy between these institutions. This would ensure collaboration and avoid competition. Further attention should be given to articulating a comprehensive and integrated network of regional training centers.

  • In order to ensure sustainability of sub-regional and regional institutions member States are urged to fulfil their financial obligations on a regular and continuous basis.

 

 

 

Visit the Policy and development strategies proceedings section to read the proceedings related to this thematic area or visit one of the other areas identified in the assessment of the African experience:

 

 

 

 Theme 1 Reproductive health and rights

Reproductive health and rights

 Theme 2 Family, youth and adolescents

Family, youth & adolescents

 Theme 3 Gender empowerment

Gender empowerment

 Theme 4 NGO amd private sector roles

NGO & private sector roles

 Theme 6 Advocacy and IEC Strategies

Advocacy & IEC Strategies

 

 

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