BUJUMBURA June 7th (ABP) – Three ministers, the one of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, that of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, and that of the Interior, Patriotic Education and Local Development, responded to the oral questions from the MPs in a plenary session of Thursday June 6, 2019. The questions focused on the demographic dividend which is the acceleration of economic growth that can result from a rapid decline in a country’s fertility and family planning.

The Minister of the Interior, Patriotic Education and Local Development, Mr. Pascal Barandagiye, said that growing population is an issue that haunts the country’s development. He said that more than 60% of the population are consumers and producers remain below consumers. Mr. Barandagiye said the mentality that regarded the child as a wealth is no longer a case.

Among the questions asked is the implementation of the bill fixing the number of children per family. Mr. Barandagiye pointed out that custom takes precedence over the law, a law can be put in place but the custom erases it gradually. He added that during the patriotic education, the ministry spared no effort to sensitize the people and the youth on the importance of family planning.

According to Mr. Barandagiye, religious denominations such as the Catholic Church have already begun the natural family planning process to support the government’s goals for sustainable development. He also pointed out that the law can be passed in various forms, including the adoption by the government of a strategy to take care of a specific number of children per family. He also informed that according to the census made in 2017, the total fertility rate decreased from 6.2 children in 2008 to 5.5 in 2017.

Mr. Barandagiye further stated that the target provinces in population growth are Muyinga with a growth rate of 6.6%; Cankuzo, Bubanza, Ruyigi and Cibitoke with a rate of 6%. However, he added, the Bujumbura City Council and Bururi provinces have a low population growth with a rate of 3.7 and 4.4% respectively. He also meant that educational attainment is one of the factors favoring family planning.

In order to cope with the problem of population growth, the Ministry of the Interior has ordered the legalization of monogamous marriages. He called for the contribution of everyone to raise awareness about the benefits of family planning and the benefit of the demographic dividend.

The Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Mr. Martin Nivyabandi, said that the responsibility of the man is more important in family planning. He said that a single man can impregnate thirty (30) women in a month and that is what causes conflicts within families, begging and street children.

According to Mr. Nivyabandi, it is the non-satisfaction of basic needs that causes drop-out, early and unwanted pregnancies in schools. Mr. Nivyabandi argued that when a household has fewer dependent children, it can save and invest more money and the savings benefit from an economic boost.

The Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Mr. Thaddée Ndikumana, also affirmed the responsibility of everyone in the success of family planning. Preparation begins with parents, and the latter are urged to send children to schools and encourage them to complete schooling before starting the family. He added that birth spacing allows good health for the mother. Mr. Ndikumana recommended family planning, hence, he wished to work in synergy for the promotion of family planning in favor of the demographic dividend.

Regarding rumors about the side effects of contraceptive methods, he meant that when a contraceptive method produces undesirable effects, the medical staff may choose another method to give the concerned. Regarding the involvement of men in family planning, the Minister of Public Health reported that 2,117 men have undergone vasectomy and Kayanza province is taking the lead.

Note that by 2025, Burundi aims to reduce the population growth rate from 2.4% to 2%, to reduce the total fertility rate of 6.4 children in 2008 to 3 children and to bring the rate of urbanization from 10.1% to 40% between 2008 and 2025.

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