Africa: Civil society organizations critical for holding government and partners accountable in Africa

Africa needs the contribution of its Civil Society to drive its 2063 transformation agenda. As part of the Five-Year Review of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Population and Development (AADPDP), in Accra Ghana, African Civil Society Organisations gathered for a “CSO Pre-Conference”, to add their voices to the regional review process. The African Union Commission, with the support of its partners, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), organized the Accra CSO Pre-Conference.

Addressing the opening of the pre-conference, the Deputy Regional Director of UNFPA West and Central Africa, Dr. Mamadou Kante, said that "the AADPD was adopted five years ago, in recognition of the centrality of population and development in the forward-march towards sustainable development".

Since then, he added, it has been agreed by key AU and UN structures, that the reviews of Agendas 2063 and 2030 shall take into consideration the outcomes of major UN conferences at the regional level such as the AADPD. Thus, he highlighted that, it is extremely critical that civil society continues to play its role as a watchdog for accountability and for results.

Dr. Kante stressed that, ensuring accountability, both of governments and civil society actors, will be an important determinant of the collective success registered. The bold gains made in the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the targets on access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; gender equality and women’s empowerment; the commitment to leave no one behind and the conviction that people must lie at the heart of all our sustainable development efforts, will only be achieved if we work together, with renewed conviction, to change the narrative as it has been, he added.

It is important to note that, 66% of the population in Africa is less than 24 years old. Thus, investing in youth is the right and smartest thing to do. As such, it is timely to address population dynamics in Africa, especially young people, as the continent will be the most youthful continent of the world at the horizon of the AU Agenda in 2063.

To this end, Africa has the potential to reap the Demographic Dividend, if it implements appropriate public policies and investments in human capital, women and girls’ empowerment, job creation, and good governance. It is only then, that young people will lead global actions on ending discrimination, connecting Africa with innovations and technology, ensuring resilience towards climate change and furthermore building peace and security on the continent.

According to the Head of Division for Health, Nutrition and Population at the African Union Commission, Dr. Margaret Agama-Anyetei," if Africa is to achieve its transformative agenda as defined by Agenda 2063, and the Sustainable Development Goals, it needs to remain focused to strengthening governance, political, economic and social commitments. It is only then that it will advance its equity, human capital development and transform the socio-economic condition of African Citizens. "

Therefore, she added, Africa’s CSO must continue to have a critical role in monitoring the use of public resources that are earmarked to improve the lives of Africa’s citizens. This meeting will afford you the opportunity to revisit the ideals, as laid out in the 1994 ICPD and evaluate the extent to which Africa is progressing in its implementation of the Addis Ababa Commitment and to make recommendations for consideration by Member States.

Speaking on behalf of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), its Resident Representative to the African Union, Mr. Sam Ntelamo, highlighted that, " in a continent where wealth is unevenly distributed, where the youth bulge is a usual occurrence, migration and rapid urbanization is unfolding, women ‘s rights including sexual and reproductive health and rights are far from being realized, the AADPD accentuates the need to respond to these existing and emerging challenges."

He recognized the role of civil society organizations in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of population and development policies and programmes, including devising strategies on how to achieve the universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights .

For Mr. Ntelamo, given the efforts that went into the negotiations of the Addis Ababa Declaration five years ago, it is of paramount importance that the gains of such negotiations are jealously guarded, by deeply reflecting on what has been achieved since its inception, in order to take stock of the implementation of the Declaration and come up with tangible recommendations.

Bearing in mind the continuous efforts to strengthen partnerships and engage different constituencies addressing SRHR, adolescents and young people, gender and population issues in the region, UNFPA remains committed to working with regional and global partners to ensure that the space for civil society to engage effectively is assured as we collectively work towards championing ICPD as a centerpiece of the achievement of the SDGs and as a people-centered sustainable development agenda and 2063 agenda.

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