opinionBy Mirriam Zimba
ZAMBIA has no doubt in the recent years made strides towards socio-economic development in all the critical sectors of the country's economy.
However, efforts made towards development can only be made fruitful when there is critical planning taken into consideration.One of the factors that are taken into consideration when planning is the target population of people expected to benefit from the said development.
It is for this very reason that the relationship between population and national development can not be looked at separately, because the two components complement each other.
What is population? A population is the total number of men, women, boys and girls, living in a defined location (for example, a city, district, region or country) at a specified period in time.
The major factors that can influence or affect population negative or passively are fertility (the number of live births per woman), deaths and migration (both in and out migration).
Population Projection: is defined as a best guess calculation of the number of people expected to be alive at a future date, based on assumptions of population size, births, deaths and migration-what is known about the current population size and is expected to happen to births, deaths and migration.
A population projection can help illustrate important decisions that affect the everyday administration of a population, such as the need for more affordable housing projects to accommodate the large and growing population.
Population projections are very critical for programme panning and policy dialogue. In this case, demographers have found it easer to measure fertility rates for women because of their biological ability to give birth to a child.
Interestingly enough, declining mortality (and not rising fertility) has been the cause of the accelerating pace of the world's population growth. Other terms commonly used by demographers include population growth concepts which refer to population growth rate-the percentage change in the size of the population in a year.
This is calculated by dividing the number of people added to a population in a year (natural increase +net in-migration) multiplied by the population size at the start of the year.
This means that if for example births equal the number of deaths, and there is zero migration, then the growth rate will also be zero.
In most developing countries like Zambia, there are still more births than deaths, and there is very little net migration, meaning that the growth rate is greater than zero, and the population of these countries continue to increase yearly.
Another term frequently used by demographers is population momentum-which simply refers to the tendency for a population to grow even after replacement-level fertility has been achieved.
The impact that HIV and AIDS has had on the population cannot be over-emphasized.
The pandemic has taken a negative toll on fertility, meaning that many HIV positive women in their productive ages may die early or have fewer children or none at all.
HIV/AIDS have also had a negative impact on infant mortality, life expectancy and mortality in the economically productive ages of 15 to 49 years.
The greater the HIV prevalence, the larger the impact on mortality.The National Population Policy: The population of Zambia is the nation's most valuable resource.
It is both a primary agent for and a beneficiary of development.
The processes of fertility, mortality and migration affect and are in turn affected by development.
These factors are central in the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs that promote sustainable development.
The Zambian government, through this policy aims at influencing population dynamics and their determinants so as to keep the population size, composition, and distribution and growth rate at optimal levels. Its development and implementation process desires to accommodate the increased demand for goods and services brought by increase in population size and growth rate.
The population factors and their determinants continue to act as serious challenges to sustainable development.
However, since the dissemination of the National Population Policy in 1989, the country population growth rate, though declining, ahs remained high and has affected government's efforts .
And although the HIV and AIDS pandemic have a bearing on the declining growth rate, the desired decline should be as a result of the interplay of low fertility and mortality rates.
Zambia's impetus to revise the National Population arose from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
The 2000 census as wells as recent surveys provided additional demographic information on the emerging issues such as HIV and AIDS, gender, reproductive health, environment, poverty, unemployment and a new global perspective on population and development.
The ICPD offered a broader guidance on the integration of these emerging issues into sustainable development. In addition, these issues were identified as areas of concern in national planning document polices such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) as well as it playing a big role in the planning, formulation and documentation of National Development Plans.
The Vision 2030, the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP), the current Sixth national Development Plan (SNDP) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's), have also recognized the importance of population and development issues.
There is no doubt that the progress and prosperity of the country and its future generations will depend, among others, on how the people of Zambia commit themselves to the achievement of the objectives and pronounced in this policy.
Its success however depends on active participation and support not only of government but also of individuals, couples, civil society, religious organizations, cooperating partners, the community at large and other stakeholders.
The revised National population Policy expresses government's determination and commitment to the principle that well managed population resource is a fundamental requirement for sustainable development. Population factors, especially fertility, mortality and migration, are an integral part of the country's development processes.
It is generally acknowledged that to achieve sustainable development, population growth must be commensurate with socio-economic growth.
The population characteristics of a nation, size, composition, structure, distribution, growth rates, as well as the basic demographic factors of fertility, mortality and migration, affect, and are in-turn affected by development.
There should be central components in formulating and implementing policies, plans, and programs aimed at accelerating socio-economic development.
This is the rationale for current efforts in many developing countries to deliberately and systematically integrate population factors into their national development planning and plan implementation processes.
The National Population Policy adopted by the Zambian government in 1989, affirmed government's commitment to adopting and implementing appropriate
strategies to manage population resources in a manner consistent with
Zambia's ultimate objective of accelerating the rate of economic development.
The demographic factors and other emerging issues such as rapid urbanization, gender concerns, brain-drain, and HIV thereby constituting major obstacles to ensuring improved quality of life of the population.
These issues needed to be addressed and resolved within the framework of an explicit, comprehensive and multi-sectoral population policy.
They should form an integral component of the national strategies for reducing poverty whilst promoting sustainable development hence the revision of the 1989 policy.
Results from the past censuses indicate that the population of the country which was 3.5 million persons in 1963, increased to 4.1 million in 1969, 5.7 million in 1980, 7.8 million in 1990, and 9.9 million in 2000.
According to the preliminary results of the 2010 census, the current population stands at approximately 13 million.
The size and growth rate of a population are primarily a function of the three demographic factors, namely fertility, mortality and migration.
The other demographic factors of marriage (nuptiality) and social mobility play significant roles in population and development.
Ministry of Finance and National Planning chief planner from the social and population unit, Mainga Luwabelwa explained that Zambia' population has been growing steadily and is expected to continue growing in the next 15 to 20 years even if fertility levels were to decline to replacement levels.
"Population as an irreversible momentum for growth is already built into the young age structure of the population," he explained.
However, the size of the population of the country is certain to continue increasing for many decades to come, even if fertility levels were to decline considerably. This is because a momentum for growth is already built into the young age structure of the population. The National Population Policy target aims to attain and maintain population growth rate that is at least three times lower than the rate of economic growth of the country.
It also seeks to reduce the proportion of adolescents having children from the current 25 per cent to half the number by 2030.
Other targets to be met through this policy include the reduction of maternal mortality from 729 per 100,000 live births by more than two thirds by the year 2030,reduce the infant mortality rate of 110 per 1000 by more than two thirds by 2030.
The policy also aims at ensuring that sexual and reproductive health services including family planning information available, accessible and affordable to at least 50 per cent of those in their reproductive years, and are need of such services also by the year 2030.Among the strategies to be employed by the government in achieving these national targets include the establishment of population units in all relevant institutions and strengthening the institutional capabilities for integrating population variables into development planning and programming at national, provincial and district levels.Undoubtedly the, relationship between national and economic development and population, is one such that is complementary, and prudent management of a country's population, ultimately translates to economic growth for the overall benefit of all citizens.