|Strengthening the Fabric of Society: Population. Capacity Building for Sustainable Development (UNDP - UNFPA, 1996, 53 p.)|
Critical factors - such as population size and growth rates, distribution patterns, migration and urbanization trends - have a direct impact on many other areas of development, particularly human resource development. Increasingly, countries are focusing on the development of human capital, including the provision of adequate infrastructure, housing, health and education facilities, potable water and food, job creation and the management of key natural resources, among others.
Policy makers must be able to balance population growth and distribution factors, for example, with available resources if development strategies are to become reality. Population is one of the fundamental building blocks of sustainable development, along with resource management and environmental care-taking, the development of adequate social services, and the building up of viable industrial and agricultural infrastructures. All of these factors interact with and influence the others. Ultimately, population factors interact with consumption patterns and the level of technological development to influence a society's total impact on resources and the environment.
Increasingly, countries recognize reproductive health and family planning as investments with multiple paybacks. In fact, they are among the most important investments any country can make, bearing directly on many areas of development, as mentioned previously. Those Third World countries with the fastest economic growth rates - for example, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Tunisia - have all established effective reproductive health and family planning programmes.
In summary, capacity building in population and reproductive health programmes is crucial for the following reasons:
- Increasingly, governments recognize that sound economic development rests on their ability to respond to a number of interactive forces, including population size, growth rates, distribution patterns and urbanization, migration, the level of exploitation of natural resources, food security and the state of the environment.
- The international development community and national governments have come to realize that sustainable development is impossible to bring about without explicitly addressing poverty. And poor people tend to have larger than average families.
- When population programmes become people's programmes, with participation from a broad segment of society, these programmes can act as catalysts, facilitating other community development objectives.
- Population factors are an essential part of any national development strategy. Including population variables in such strategies helps national governments make better strategic choices about where to invest limited resources, domestic as well as donor assistance.
- Those Countries with national population policies find it easier to develop flexible responses to problems arising because of rapid urbanization or internal migration.
- The health benefits of family planning have become obvious. Women who use family planning and maternal and child health care services tend to be healthier and give birth to healthier children than those who do not.
- Women and men throughout the world have come to view reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right.
- Women and men increasingly recognize that maternal and child health care and family planning services are absolutely essential if they are to be able to exercise their reproductive choices. Men and women recognize the need to share responsibility for family planning.
- The sheer growth in the number of couples who will need access to effective contraception compels governments to meet this basic need.