‘Family planning should be part of climate resilience plans’

December 08, 2022

Islamabad : Rapid population growth worsens the impact of climate change in Pakistan, strains its national resources and exposes more people to climate related risks. Rapid population growth and...

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Islamabad : Rapid population growth worsens the impact of climate change in Pakistan, strains its national resources and exposes more people to climate related risks. Rapid population growth and high fertility levels hinder reduction of poverty and human development, slow down provision of basic services like health and education and puts pressure on natural resources. Population coalition of civil society and media have called on the government to prioritise family planning in climate resilience and rehabilitation strategies.

This was discussed during a meeting held with Population Coalition members from civil society and media on the inter-link between climate change and population. The meeting was organsied by Population Council with support from the UNFPA on Wednesday. Even though Pakistan contributes less than one per cent to global carbon emission, yet it has suffered huge human and economic losses due to climate related disasters. Over 10,000 lives were lost in last 20 years due to climate change and estimations of economic losses stand at $3.8 billion.

Floods 2022 have costed an economic loss of $30 billion to Pakistan, washed away one-third of its land and impacted over 31 million population and have heightened vulnerabilities of poor people, especially women and children. In his welcome remarks, Senior Director Programmes, Population Council said, “media and CSOs have an important role to play in influencing governments to include family planning and population management in disaster management and climate resilience strategies.” He also urged the participants to contribute to implementation of Council of Common Interests (CCI) national action plan that lays out a clear roadmap to achieve sustainable population growth in the country. Participants discussed family planning as a cost-effective approach to climate change resilience and adaptation.

They discussed how family planning is critical for achievement of both development and climate change goals and offers a unique solution among medical interventions to reduce poverty, maternal and child mortality, increase in primary schooling, and women's education and empowerment. It also mitigates the effect of climate change through population stabilisation and increases environmental sustainability. Speaking at the occasion, Samia Ali Shah, Project Director Population Council said, “Floods have aggravated the pre-existing vulnerabilities of poor women who are unable to exercise their basic right of family planning and healthy spacing due to high unmet need for family planning.” Based on the population estimates using district population projections 2017, Population Council shared that over 610,000 women are currently pregnant in the severely affected districts across Pakistan whereas five million children under five years of age require immunization and nutrition care.

More than 797,000 women in severely affected districts have unmet need for family planning and over 0.9 million elderly aged 65+ living in rural areas of the severely affected districts require special care. Civil society and media representatives called on the government to enhance budgetary allocations for health and family planning particularly in post floods recovery and resilience programs. They also advocated for increased investments in female education and skilled labour force to maximise demographic dividend and ensure Family Planning is part of national policies and climate change resilience and disaster management strategies. They also stressed the need for effective leadership to ensure that population and its linkage with climate change is integrated into social safety net programmes and reiterated that the government must integrate health and population welfare services to widen access to family planning services.

Members of CSOs and media coalitions highlighted steps to improve women health and build health system resilience at the community level through Lady Health Workers and Community Midwives.

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