REMARKS BY HON. WYCLIFFE AMBETSA OPRANYA, EGH, MP, MINISTER OF STATE FOR PLANNING, NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND VISION 2030 DURING THE OPENING OF THE 2010 NATIONAL LEADERSâ€™ CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT ON 15TH NOVEMBER, 2010 AT KENYATTA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE
Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me begin by welcoming you all to this National Leadersâ€™ Conference on Population and Development. The Ministry of Planning is the one responsible for integration of population variables into the development planning process at all levels. We at the ministry are fully aware that a well managed population is the cornerstone of sustainable development.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The Kenya Development Agenda is anchored on Vision 2030. The vision aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030. We cannot achieve this vision unless we manage the population dynamics properly. It is founded on three key pillars namely: economic, social and political.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Social Pillar aims at creating a just and cohesive society with social equity in a clean and secure environment. It addresses issues of social equity and poverty reduction through initiation of sustainable development programmes across the country. Such programmes shall ensure that: extreme poverty is reduced; all children of school age are enrolled with special attention to gender disparities; infant, child and maternal morbidity and mortality rates are reduced; reproductive health services are accessible to all; and the environment is conserved for the benefit of current and future generations. Slowing down population growth will therefore assist in poverty reduction, economic recovery, and environmental conservation.
Ladies and Gentlemen: This three day conference will deliberate on various aspects of the social and economic pillars of Vision 2030 at plenary and break away sessions. A number of sub-themes will be discussed under each pillar and how population dynamics affect them. In the social pillar, the aspects to be discussed in details include the inter-linkages of population dynamics with the following: high number of clients seeking health care related services in an environment of already constrained facilities and personnel; overstretched education sector due to large number of young people in response to free primary education and subsidized education at secondary level; pressure on natural environment and water sources leading to resource conflict; and, faster urbanization causing strains to the available infrastructure and other basic amenities leading to poor quality services and upsurge of informal and squatter settlements.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The youth, women, the elderly and the other vulnerable groups are key segments of our population and should be integrated and involved in the development processes at all levels. A large youthful population has many and unique needs. It can be a resource for national development and also a significant source of problems that can hinder sustainable national development. The number of people aged 55 and above in Kenya, has been rising and currently stands at 2.6 million with an annual growth rate of about 4 percent per annum. Females constitute a large proportion of our population. Their involvement and contribution to matters relating to reproductive health, economic development, environmental conservation and family stability is crucial.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Poverty reduction has been the focus of Kenyaâ€™s economic policies since 1965. Still, over five out of every 10 Kenyans live below the poverty level. The total number of the poor has continued to increase over time. There exist wide variations in poverty levels in the country. Investing in family planning is therefore expected to assist in reducing inequalities and poverty.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The current National Population Policy which has been guiding implementation of population programmes in Kenya during the last decade is set to come to an end in December this year. The process of reviewing the policy is on-going. In this regard some of the activities already undertaken include desk review to evaluate its performance and holding of regional leadersâ€™ meetings to solicit views on population and development concerns in the regions. This National Leadersâ€™ Conference on Population and Development will be another stage of engagement with leaders on population and development issues in Kenya.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Despite numerous government efforts to address population and development challenges over the years, issues are still emerging that require urgent attention. As national leaders gathered here today, I call upon you to actively deliberate on all issues that will be brought up for debate. You will also be required to table population and development issues that are emerging or existing in your county for dialogue and deliberation together with leaders from other counties during the break away sessions.
Finally, this conference expects all of you to participate fully in the development of conference recommendations that will provide useful inputs for the development of the new National Population Policy that will guide implementation of population programmes in the next decade both at National and County levels.
I wish you very fruitful deliberations during the three days that you will be here.