Alarm bells of the tremendous challenges posed by the new millennium to the entire globe continue to escalate their warnings, and no country can afford to play deaf to the sirens.
For that reason, the Population Association of Botswana(PAB) is scheduled to host a high profile United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA)- sponsored two day meeting at the University of Botswana on 24-25/04/2010, to explore the opportunities.
It is generally expected that the outcome of the conference and any positions adopted should be able to influence national policy decisions in the future.
Professor Gobopamang Letamo of the University of Botswana (UB) said, “The main objective of the conference was in fact to use it as launching pad for the PAB as it is currently relatively unknown.”
Letamo pointed out that PAB was conceived 3-4 years ago after recognizing that for most of the time development planning in this country tended to leave out population variables.
He expressed the view that factors such as migration, mortality rate as well as fertility have impact on development planning in like manner as the latter has affects qualitative output of the cited factors.
“In this regard we aim through the initiative to bring together experts and as many stakeholders as possible to share their experiences and views about issues of population and development,” posited the UB Professor.
The UNFPA has raised concern about declines in the rate of mortality and fertility levels spanning from the end of the last century, with particular reference made to developing countries.
“The population ‘explosion’ witnessed in the latter part of the 20th century due to high fertility and lowering mortality levels has become a matter of the past,” read a statement from the UNFPA Office Botswana Office.
As a result of this, there is age structural transition leading to ‘youth bulge’ and population aging.
Consideration that Botswana was not exempt from the deceleration in the decline of mortality levels due to the continuing spread of HIV/AIDS pandemic experienced by most developing countries seemed to be another imperative in the organisers’ minds.
Within the same scope falls the appearance of so many hitherto unknown communicable as well as non-communicable diseases.
Moses Keetile, Communications Officer at UNFPA confirmed his organization’s involvement in the proceedings of the event.
In addition he said, “Population movement has become a contentious and central issue as individuals relocate both legally and illegally, to regional and continental destinations.”
He added that it has emerged that population redistribution was motivated by the differential opportunities offered by the space economies or due to conflicts arising from civil strife.
These phenomena, according to UNFPA spokesman, often put a premium on the very foundations of the national development policies especially population and health policies in many developing counties, in particular in Sub-Saharan countries.
Apart from this, the global economic downturn or recession witnessed in the past two years is a major blow to the continuing developmental efforts of third world countries, especially Sub-Saharan countries.
Botswana, despite its middle income status is experiencing the vagaries of this downturn much since the economy is not so diverse.
Against that background, the Population Association of Botswana (PAB) feels that it is relevant, appropriate and timely to discuss the emerging issues pertaining to various socio-economic and demographic themes relevant to the Sub-Saharan Africa in general and Botswana in particular.
Some of the thematic issues for of the Conference discussion include Status of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Botswana, Global Economic Recession and its Impact on Botswana.
Health Transition including the Emergence of Non-communicable Diseases, HIV and AIDS Scenario and the Need for Innovative Strategies as well as Population and Environment form part of the agenda.
In the same vein poverty Issues, Methodological Issues on Data Collection and Analytical Tools do feature prominently in the list..
Planners, administrators, and NGOs in addition to academicians from various fields are scheduled to give meaning to the themes of the event.
“We hope that the conclusions of this conference will have far-reaching implications for the development policy formulation, implementation and evaluation at the national level,” concluded Letamo.