The Senate – the upper consultative house of the Egyptian parliament – decided on Sunday to send a report on the country’s overpopulation problem to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, reports Gamal Essam El-Din. The Senate’s decision came after a two-week discussion on a study prepared by Senator Soheir Abdel-Salam on the problem of overpopulation in Egypt and the measures needed to contain it.
The report, prepared by the Senate Committees on Health, Population, Human Rights and Social Solidarity, recommends that an independent entity, the National Authority for Population and Family Development, be created to replace the current National Population Council created in 1985, said Senate President Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek added that the new independent authority will be given sufficient powers to carry out serious and collective actions in the fight against the over population. “Overpopulation has become like a very dangerous disease blocking the state’s efforts to achieve comprehensive development, and we hope that the new authority will be the remedy to relieve the country from this disease,” Abdel-Razek said.
The report indicates that the authority will consist of a board of directors, a board of directors and a general secretariat. The authority will be attached to the presidency rather than to the Ministry of Health and Population. The president of the republic will be appointed chairman of the board, the prime minister as vice president and all relevant ministers and public figures with expertise in population policies will be members, according to the report.
Abdel-Razek said a new strategy for population growth in Egypt has been a priority since 2015. During this period, the National Egyptian Family Development Project was launched with the aim of stemming the tide of population growth. , Abdel-Razek said, adding that further steps are still needed to resolve the issue.
Abdel-Razek also indicated that the measures aimed at combating population growth are in line with Article 41 of the Egyptian constitution of 2014 which states that “the State shall implement a population program aimed at striking a balance between population growth and available resources, and must maximize investments in human resources. resources and improve their characteristics as part of achieving sustainable development.
Mohamed Gazzar, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said the proposal to establish a National Authority for Population and Family Development followed the recommendation of many experts who agreed that the authority should be independent of the financial and administrative affairs and have sufficient powers to implement a new strategy to contain overcrowding.
Abdel-Salam’s study, which the Senate began discussing on March 28, warns that Egypt’s population will reach 128 million by 2030 and 183 million by 2050.
“This galloping population growth poses a serious threat to the future, economic development and national security of the country,” the study says, calling for the role of the National Population Council to be restructured and replaced by an independent body. and more powerful by the name of the National Authority for Population and Family Development, besides the fact that urgent new measures that could reduce population growth to just 110 million by 2030 should be adopted. “But it looks like it will be difficult to achieve this goal as babies born during the prime years between 2010 and 2015 will reach marriageable age in 2030-2040, which will see Egypt grow to 183 million in 2025.” , says the study, adding that this number will put a great pressure on the economy and the natural resources of the country. He suggested that all that can be done now is to follow a new strategy based on strict birth control and marriage measures. This, he said, was important for realizing Egypt’s 2030 vision on sustainable development, which aims to control the population in Egypt soon.
Egypt’s population currently stands at 102 million. According to the study, the population is currently growing at a rate of 1.94%, a rate that adds about two million people to the population every year. Egypt has a relatively young population; 60% are under 30 years old. This rapidly growing population poses a threat to Egypt’s economy, a third of which lives below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is around 10%, according to the study.
The study pointed out that population growth in Egypt slowed considerably in the 1990s when the National Population Council was affiliated with the presidency, but began to increase rapidly after the year 2000 when the council was placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. “We recommend that the new National Council for Population and Family Development be affiliated with the presidency in order to be able to achieve the serious goal of controlling population growth in Egypt,” the study said.
The study indicates that all workers currently affiliated with the National Population Council and other relevant ministries that cover population issues should join the new authority under one roof to maximize the benefits of their performance and experience.
Senator Maya Morsi, head of the National Women’s Council, said early marriage is one of the main reasons for population growth, especially in Upper Egypt. “We hope that the proposed authority in conjunction with the national family development project will be able to tackle the negative phenomenon of early marriage,” Morsi said, adding that further strong measures are expected to control the growth. demographic.
President Al-Sisi said last year that new measures to tackle population growth were not aimed at preventing childbearing but sought to control birth rates.
Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar, minister of higher education and minister in charge of health affairs, said more than 5,000 medical units across Egypt will start offering family health and birth control services.
Minister of Waqf (religious endowments) Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said more serious action was urgently needed to control Egypt’s population growth. “In this regard, let me indicate that the mosques affiliated with the Ministry of Waqf will use doctors to raise awareness of the problem of overcrowding, birth control and family planning,” Gomaa said, adding that “the Egypt increases by two million or two and a half”. million each year and that is too much, not to mention a heavy burden for a country struggling to deliver high quality services to its citizens.
*A version of this article appeared in the April 14, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.