By Sarjo Camara Singateh
The United Nations Population Fund has launched its State of the World Population Report 2014 yesterday, 18th November, 2014 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
With the theme “The power of 1.8 billion: adolescents, youth and the transformation of the future”, the event was attended by people from different walks of life.
Delivering the launching statement on behalf of the vice president and Minister for Women affairs, Mr. Alieu K Jammeh said the State of the World Population (SWOP) report is part of a global campaign to urge stakeholders to prioritize the needs and rights of young people in the post-2015 development agenda and to draw public support for increased attention to and investments in the capabilities of young people, specifically in the areas of reproductive health, education, and training for work and life.
Jammeh said according to the recent UN Secretary-General’s report on world demographic trends, the population explosion of young people in Africa is very noticeable as 30 per cent is between the ages of 10 and 24 and that this will remain so for at least the next 20 years, even though the number is projected to decline in other parts of the world.
Mr Jammeh said it is in fact forecasted that countries that meet the needs of young people in this period are likely to be in a far better position by the second half of the century, with more educated and healthy populations, more productive workforces, growing economies and falling fertility rates. On the other hand, he added, those that do not attend to youth may see higher fertility rates over time and a sustained high proportion of young and dependent people.
“Therefore safeguarding the rights of adolescents and youth and investing in their future is essential to their development and that of their families, communities and countries,” said Mr Jammeh.
He noted that providing quality education, decent employment, effective livelihood skills and access to sexual and reproductive health, including comprehensive sexuality education, will ensure that every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
“We must recognize that the demographic dividend is not automatic; it requires a healthy, educated and productive workforce that is gainfully employed. A fully engaged young people can break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and are more resilient in the face of individual and societal challenges. As skilled and informed citizens, they can contribute more fully to their communities and nations,” He said.
Mr.. Boureima Diadie, the UNFPA Resident Representative, said globally, more than 500 million youth struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. He noted that up to 60% of young people in developing regions are not working or in school, or have only irregular jobs and 57 million who should be in schools. He said this launching is to celebrate the young people as the global force.
He said if young people are the future as their slogan goes “Every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
For his part, Mr. Saihou Trawally, the Director of Population Affairs, said this is an annual event which explores various thematic issues relating to population challenges of previous years and aims at widening their horizon on global demographic scenarios and issues affecting their livelihood as human beings. He said it is one of their major advocacy events that call for concerted efforts by all to address pressing population and development concerns.
Mr. Momodou Mboge, the UNFPA Assistant Representative, in reading the summary report, pointed out that the largest global youth population in human history will have a profound effect on every aspect of our common future and can create a better world for all. He said the effect can be overwhelming positive if young people are able to develop their capabilities, have access to education and health, including sexual and reproductive health, and find opportunities to fulfill the promise of their lives through, for example decent employment.
The launching was chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Youth and Sports, Ms. Nancy Nyang, with a background entertainment provided by the Police band and a drama play by the Novo Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA).