Entebbe — The Programme of Action(PoA) of 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) is an unfinished agenda and the gains must be sustained, after 25 years of the ground-breaking conference.
These were the sentiments expressed by discussants in one of the sessions of the 8th Africa Population Conference being held here in Entebbe, Uganda on the theme "Harnessing Africa's population dynamics for sustainable development; 25 years after Cairo."
About 179-member countries in 1994 adopted the PoA in Cairo, a far-sighted plan to advance the well-being of humankind through promoting democracy, equality, gender, reproductive health and women empowerment to make the world a better place.
Twenty -five years after the ICPD more 1,000 participants from various disciplines and from across the globe are attending the African Population Conference to discuss on how to harness Africa's unique population and profess multidisciplinary solutions to development challenges on the continent.
Presenting a paper, Dr Julitta Onabanjo of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Eastern African and Southern Regional Office said the ICPD was unfinished agenda which must be sustained in the context of the, national visions, Sustainable Development Goals and the African Agenda 2063 meant to transform the continent into a prosperous society.
She stressed the need for countries to invest in young people in their education, skills development to derive the benefits accruing from Demography Dividend flowing from Africa's youthful population which is a source of labour force.
Dr Onabanjo urged governments to "protect and sustain" the gains achieved after the ICPD and advance the agenda.
She said sustaining the agenda must be aligned with emerging issues of urbanisation, adding that the Union of African Population Studies must play a strategic role in advancing Africa's development through cutting-edge research to influence policies.
In another presentation, Professor Jean-Franscio Kobiane of the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso said Africa has made progress in human and sexual reproductive rights, reduction in poverty, increasing life span from 51 years in 1995 to 62.4 currently, women empowerment and gender equality, good governance and accountability.
Prof. Kobiane, however, noted that inequality was still high in Africa, slow in fertility decline, absence of descent employment, gaps in primary education.
He urged African governments to commit more resources to implement policies to improve the well-being of the people.
Prof Kobiane enumerated other challenges that needed to be addressed as issues of elderly people, young people's sexual health and people with disabilities.