The National Assembly of Malawi has committed to championing parliamentary discourse and policies that aim to integrate population dynamics for sustainable development and to ensure that suitable investments are made to take advantage of Malawi’s youthful population as a resource for economic development.
This was revealed by the Speaker of Malawi’s parliament Rt Hon Catherine Hara during the launch of the reconstituted Malawi Parliament Population and Sustainable Development Caucus (PSDC).
Hon Catherine Hara further pledged that the Malawi Parliament will play its pivotal role in establishing the necessary mechanisms for effective coordination, integration, and implementation of population issues across various development sectors as Malawi sets itself on a trajectory toward achieving its development blueprint MW2063.
“We know that rapid population growth in low-income countries has implications for a country’s socioeconomic development, like social services, food security, environmental degradation, and poverty alleviation. Malawi’s rapidly growing population is outpacing the country’s ability to provide crucial infrastructure and social services to the people.” Hon Gotani Hara added.
Hon Gotani Hara added that the Government of Malawi recognizes the need to manage population growth and that the Malawi Vision, MW2063, launched in 2021, identified population as an enabler for human capital development. She disclosed that the first 10-year strategy of MW2063 focuses on reducing the population growth rate and increasing female participation in wage employment.
The speaker called on Malawi’s development partners to fully utilize parliament’s ability to reach people at the grassroots and the parliamentarian’s role as a mouthpiece that can be used for effective messaging at the community level.
“It is important to note that many salient responsibilities for population, health, environment, and development issues sit across several state and non-state actors in Malawi. Improving multistakeholder coordination of the cross-sectoral population considerations is vital as these synergistic relationships unlock gains for MW2063. This will, include developing appropriate legislation and allocating sufficient resources.” Hon Gotani Hara said.
The launch of the PSDC was supported by the Building Capacity for Integrated Family planning (FP) and Reproductive Health (RH) and Population, Environment and Development (PED) Action (BUILD) Project. The BUILD Project is a 5-year USAID-funded project being implemented by a consortium led by AFIDEP. It seeks to advocate for increased political commitment and financial resources for voluntary family planning and reproductive health.
The event opened with remarks by Hon Dr. Ben Phiri, Member of Parliament for Thyolo Central constituency and Vice Chair of the PSDC, in which he outlined the PSDC ambition to integrate population into Malawi’s sustainable development action. Hon Phiri thanked the BUILD project and USAID for supporting the caucus and committed to continued engagement with BUILD to find solutions for Malawi’s population and development challenges.
In his remarks, the Chair of the PSDC and Member of Parliament for Dowa West Constituency, Hon Dr. Ephraim Kayembe, posed the following critical questions to the audience;
- Are policymakers making policies that are responsive to population issues?
- Are researchers doing adequate research and disseminating it to unlock population challenges?
- Are civil society organizations evaluating their programs for impact?
Hon Dr. Kayembe challenged the parliamentarians to proactively address population and family planning issues, with the reminder that the focus should not be on numbers only but rather on the quality of life for the people.
The event also featured a panel discussion where panelists and the audience expressed their hopes that the PSDC, in particular and parliamentarians in general, would work towards addressing priorities on population and development in Malawi. Some of these priorities highlighted during the session included:
- The Early Marriage Bill and the harmonization of laws to halt child marriages,
- Approval of the Draft Population Policy and then taking the policy to the local level,
- Advocating for and facilitating voluntary family planning among their constituents,
- Advocating for population as a cross-sectoral priority with an effective coordinating mechanism that can convene both state and non-state actors from across sectors.
Other speakers at the launch included Dr. Fanny Kachale, Director of Reproductive Health Ministry of Health, UNFPA Country Representative Miranda Tabifor, and AFIDEP Executive Director Dr. Eliya Zulu.
The launch was attended by over 100 Members of Parliament and development partners under the theme “Population and Sustainable Development: The Role of the National Assembly.”
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