On Thursday April 27, 2017, the Malawi parliament will launch a parliamentary caucus on Population and Development. The caucus, a voluntary and non-political undertaking by Members of Parliament, will contribute to addressing the country’s population and development challenges through advocacy and legislation.
The launch of the Caucus will take place at the Parliament Building in Lilongwe and will be presided over by the First Lady, Her Excellency Dr. Gertrude Mutharika, and the Speaker of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Richard Msowoya, MP. Top government officials and development partners will take part in the launch including Cabinet Ministers, Heads of Foreign Missions, development partners, members of the civil society, and religious and traditional leaders.
The Caucus is being launched at a time when the country is moving towards prioritising population dynamics in its planning and investments to achieve sustainable development and shared prosperity. The 2008 Malawi Population and Housing Census enumerated the Malawi population to be 13.1 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent and a density of 139 persons per square kilometre. The projected population in 2017 is 17.4 million. The population is youthful with about 52 percent aged 18 years and below, and 70 percent aged below 30 years. Although declining, Malawi’s total fertility rate remains high, currently estimated at 4.4 births per woman, down from 5.7 in 2010.
This rapidly rising population has important implications for Malawi’s socioeconomic development including on: food security, environmental degradation, and poverty alleviation. The youthful population can be a resource for the country if the right investments are made for them.
In the context of these prevailing population and development challenges, the Caucus will focus on increasing Parliamentarians’ understanding of the linkages between increasing population and issues such as reproductive health, family planning, food security, water resources, sustainable development, environment, ageing, urbanisation, migration, HIV/AIDS, TB and gender equality. Ultimately the caucus hopes to enable parliamentarians to make evidence-informed decisions and reform legislation that will contribute to reducing the country’s high population growth rate as well as stimulate investments in the key sectors that have potential to transform the country’s socio-economic development prospects.
AFIDEP is working with other development partners to support the Malawi parliament in launching the caucus. AFIDEP’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliya Zulu, will give remarks at the launch. AFIDEP’s staff and Board Members will also participate in the launch.