Moving beyond commitment to action: Key ministries pledge to support efforts to advance the FP2020 agenda in Uganda

16 March 2018
Hon. Florence Kiyingi, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms. Jennie Barugh, Head of Office, DFID and Mr. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA Representative share a light moment shortly after the launch of the Programme. PHOTO: UNFPA/Martha Songa

At the launch of the programme, ‘Support to address Uganda’s population challenge and improve family planning uptake’ on March 7, planners, policymakers and key leaders gathered to discuss efforts to advance the FP2020 agenda and meet Uganda’s Commitments.

This is a key milestone following the 2017 London Summit on Family Planning, where Government of Uganda recommitted to invest and work closely with appropriate sectors and other partners to reposition family planning with the objective of ensuring that every Ugandan woman can choose when and how many children to have.

At the launch ceremony held at the Serena Conference Centre in Kampala, several ministers and department Heads including those from Health; Gender, Labour and Social Development; Education and Sports; Finance, Planning and Economic Development; Lands, Housing and Urban Development; Local Government; National Population Council and National Planning Authority made commitments to rally behind the FP2020 agenda so as to address Uganda’s population challenge.

“Due to high population growth, there is a housing gap of 2.5 million houses in urban areas in Uganda,” said Ms. Dorcus Wagima Okalany, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. “Achieving good management in the sector depends on the interventions to check our population growth, it is on this basis that the Ministry supports the mainstreaming of family planning.”

On behalf of the Ministry, Ms. Okalany committed that a leaflet with information on the benefits of smaller families would be included when issuing certificates of customary ownership of land.

In the same interest, the Minister of State for Gender and Culture, Hon. Peace Mutuuzo noted that social norms hinder uptake of family planning, yet women don’t produce children alone but at end they take the burden to look after the children alone when men are very busy. She decried the high proportion of girls who get married at an early age before they are 18 years.

Studies have shown that child marriage contributes to high fertility because girls start giving birth at an early age.

In a statement read by the Acting Commissioner for Youth Affairs, Mr. Mondo Kyateeka, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Committed to: “Promote and protect the rights of the adolescent girl by ensuring that the strategy to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy is implemented and that all key stakeholders are held to account for their contributions towards this.”

Ms. Jennie Barugh, Head of Office, at the UK’s Department for International Development in Uganda explained that working with Government of Uganda to develop its human capital and unleash the potential its young population is a top priority for the UK Government.

“There is a lot of good research out there on the inter-relationship and large scale economic and social returns of tackling child marriage, ensuring that girls stay on and complete a full cycle of secondary education and delaying childbirth. UKaid looks forward to working with all its partners to tackle some of these key drivers of Uganda’s population challenge,” said Ms. Barugh.

The UK Government signed a five-year agreement (2018-2022) with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), providing Pound Sterling 3 million, equivalent to US Dollars 4 million, to support Government of Uganda’s efforts to address the population challenge and improve family planning uptake.

In his call to action, UNFPA Representative, Mr. Alain Sibenaler asked Government of Uganda to tear down all barriers – whether discriminatory laws, norms, or services gaps – that prevent adolescent girls and young women from accessing sexual and reproductive health  and rights information and services.

Hon. Florence Kiyingi, Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, who represented the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda as Chief Guest commended the UK government for the generosity. “This is a big push towards realizing the Family Planning commitments that were made at the London summit in 2017,” she said.

- Written by Prossy Jonker Nakanjako