Government has been urged to invest in improving the quality of its population if it is to realize social and economic development. Experts say that the fast rise of Uganda’s population is not unproportional to the country’s resources which has resulted into high dependency rates.
The concern was raised on Thursday during the launch of the State of Uganda Population Report for 2017 at Sheraton Hotel Kampala which brought together Ministers, policy makers and donors.
Dr. Joseph Muvawala the Executive Director of the National Planning Authority emphasized the need to invest in Uganda’s human capital saying that people are at the center of any country’s transformation.
“We need to deal with the dependency ratio because our resources are not growing fast. Government must reengineer its family planning program and invest in reproductive health,” Dr. Muvawala said in his keynote address.
He said that Uganda’s birth control is currently stagnated which a negative indicator is given the high levels of unemployment and poverty. About 1.5 million new babies are born in Uganda annually while the life expectancy has increased to 63 years from 43 in 1990.
In addition, Muvawala stressed the need to ensure that girls stay in school as well preventing of under age marriages. This, he said
“This is the time to rethink our investment model, to shift from the infrastructure development to social welfare. While UPE was meant to increase access to education, the current trend shows that gross education enrolment is going down. That’s worrying,” he added.
Speaking at the launch, Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa who represented Prime Minister Ruhakana Ruhunda said that government has over the years made significant investments to boost social welfare. She said that NRM has introduced programs for decent jobs for the youths as well as skilling them to make them a competent workforce.
“We have prioritized technical and vocational education which partly accounts for the school drop outs between Senior One and Senior Four. Today, there’s a school in every sub county,” Nankabirwa said.
She however admitted that idleness particularly among the youths still poses a big problem.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative in Uganda Alain Sibenaler said that inequalities in access to education and reproductive health care continue to disenfranchise the vast majority of women which affects the economy.
He called for investment in interventions that target adolescent girls especially those in rural poor households.
The event was also attended by State Minister of Finance for Planning David Bahati and several Members of Parliament.