Feature Article of Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Columnist: Mikda, Mohammed

The Evolution Of Ghana's Population Policies:


Let me go straight to tell my dear reader, to discard any prejudice my 'forward ever' addition to the title of this piece may have on the mind. I am not out to name and shame anybody, i am Ghanaian first and foremost before anything else.

"Population Planning For National Progress and Prosperity", does it ring a bell? Well maybe not, because it is the title of a population policy documented in the immediate post-Nkrumah era. It was a well-crafted handiwork of intellectuals and it sought to solve the foreseen problems of a high population growth with an emphasis on an optimum population where expansion and growth corresponds to socio-political development. However, the implementation of the above document became problematic.

It further failed as a forward-looking policy guideline to take cognizance of the emerging threats of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, environmental pollution,diseases and what i prefer to call 'population-enhancing customs' that could potentially puncture any gains to be made. It is noteworthy, that these were not seen as serious societal threats in the 60's and 70's.

In relation to the above, there was the need to fine-tune the population policy to effectively tackle the aforementioned issue and hence the 1994 population policy of Ghana. Among other things, the new policy was expected to address the status of women; to ensure the best possible parental and child care, to provide family-planning counselling; promotion of good reproduction and sexual health; address mortality and morbidity rate and ultimately to improve the standards of living and the quality of life of Ghanaians.

Additionally, it was expected to deal with rural and urban development conditions and effectively integrate population issues as integral parts of all government planning, and now, to address teenage pregnancy and environmental degradation; general family life education and finding a lasting solution to the new challenge posed by HIV/AIDS.

And it came to pass that the role of NGO's, institutions like the National Population Council, the National Development Planning Commission as well civil organization groups was brought to the spotlight.

Now, eighteen years(2012) after the introduction and eventual implementation of the 1994 population policy, Ghana has made great strides in cementing its place as a country poised to achieve most, if not all of its Millenium Development Goals(MDG's) by 2015 and the consequent emergence of Ghana as a middle income country. Efforts are underway to reduce child and adult mortality rate.

Despite questions that clouds the authenticity(not legitimacy) of the 2010 census figures, one can cite the difference between the last two census exercises to crown the victory of the '94 policy. Irrespective of the above, the chronic headache of mass unemployment, very grave housing deficit(did i hear you whisper STX, or is it SHX or SSS?); stagnant poverty, an intimidating ratio of dependency, rural-urban migration and the pitiable life expectancy in our Ghana are there with us! If i may ask, how many skilled personel do we need in the next 10-20 years, in order to achieve our vision 2020/30? More needs to be done to tap into the benefits of the policy as publicized in 1994- i was small then, but thank God i can read and write!

Conclusion: there is more work to do for we the teaming youth who are getting increasingly frustrated by the absence of jobs in our country; more to do to put food on the table of the populace and ensure that no member of our population, child or adult, retires to bed on an empty stomach and improvement in physical infrastructure and social living conditions to commensurate with expansion in population. If these and many others are not done; if the full guidelines of our policy documents are not followed to the letter and updated timely, we may as well keep churning out words after words but our Egyptian Mummy-like problems will continue to stare us in the nostrils. Mohammed Mikdad, the author is a public interest advocate and a constituency Secretary of the CPP at Aburi-Nsawam. An SHS leaver(2011) of Prempeh College who has been featured in prominent magazines like 'The Phase','The Stool' and many others.

Contact on facebook: Sheikh-Speare Demosthenes Mik