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On July 10, 2017 the Afghan Ministry of Economy with technical support from UNFPA – the United Nations Population Fund – presented the National Population Policy to the Afghanistan Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (APFPD). The meeting was chaired by Dr. Golalai Nur Safi, Member of the Afghan Parliament.

The main features of the presentation included the population and socio-economic situation of Afghanistan, the importance of population policy, the vital role of an accurate and precise population policy, methods to enhance the living standards of an overall economic growth of the country. The gathering agreed that the existence of a population policy is critical for efficient development planning. 

“In a traditional society such as Afghanistan, it will be very difficult to adopt a population policy without engaging religious scholars and Ulema Council. We need to work closely with our religious community and shuras for the success of a policy as such,” said Dr. Mh. Saleh Saljuqi member of the parliament and the APFPD.

Members of the Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development praised the initiative of developing a population policy by the Ministry of Economy with support from UNFPA. They also voiced their concern regarding barriers in addressing different population issues but showed commitment to help remove the barriers.

“We have the support of various entities in relation to the UNFPA mandate”, said Dr. Bashir Najeeb UNFPA Population and Development Specialist, “particularly in regards to Family Planning and birth spacing.  The UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, the Religious Scholars Council and the Ministry of Public Health are all partners committed to seeing change through population development. In addition, in 2013, 500 Afghan religious scholars from across the country signed a declaration that said family planning was allowable in Islam”.

UNFPA shall gather all constructive suggestions and comments from the Afghan Parliament and different governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to the Afghanistan Population Policy, which will enrich the document and ensure it is appropriate for the specific context.

The Ministry of Economy and the UNFPA was requested at the meeting to arrange a high-level event after the parliamentarians return from recess, to further review and lobby for higher level political support for adoption and implementation of the policy.

Progress on Socio-demographic and Economic Survey in Afghanistan

On January 31st  2017 the UNFPA launched the result of the Socio-demographic and Economic Survey (SDES) for Nimroz Province in Zaranj, the provincial center.

SDES provides socioeconomic and demographic statistics at the lowest, most local, provincial division.  50% of all households completed questionnaires to document the number, gender, and age of household members. 

In close collaboration with the Afghanistan Central Statistics Organization, and with financial support from donors, the UNFPA  has been implementing the SDES across the country.  This commenced in 2011 in Bamiyan and since the SDES has covered 13 provinces across Afghanistan.

Findings of SDES will help the Afghan government policy makers, development planners, researchers and national academic institutions to plan and implement relevant development interventions.