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Egypt to tackle overpopulation with ‘2 children only’ plan

Cairo is one of the most dense cities in the world. (Reuters)
CAIRO: Egypt’s government announced this week the implementation of a plan to control the nation’s booming population rate under a campaign called “Egypt development: Two children only.”
Health Minister Ahmed Emad Eddin met this week with Egypt’s governors to announce the plan to control population growth in each province, while studying the demographic situation of each governorate and possible mechanisms for birth control.
Fighting illiteracy, unemployment and poverty were discussed as ways to tackle the population boom.
The plan as yet does not mention applying a strict child-control policy that would stop families from having more than two children, as the name of the campaign suggests.
“Contraception is the last thing we can rely on in the population strategy,” El-Masry El-Youm newspaper quoted Emad Eddin as saying.
“In the beginning, it is necessary to eliminate the dropout in education to prevent early marriage and employ females.”
He stressed the significant role religious institutions in Egypt could play by spreading awareness of the population crisis. “Either the population increase continues to destroy Egypt or the crisis is solved,” he said.
Local Development Minister Hisham El-Sherif said population control is tied to solving Egypt’s high illiteracy rates, unemployment levels and poverty.
Egypt’s population is increasing by 2.04 million people annually, he said, adding that the country would need 20,000 nurseries in the coming three years, and half a million homes in 22 years, if population growth levels remain the same.
Consecutive governments have announced initiatives to control the population boom. The campaign’s name has raised eyebrows about whether Egypt is on the verge of applying a strict two-child policy. Such a policy has been raised by lawmakers several times.
Population expert Ayman Zohry said this campaign, like previous ones, calls for limiting the number of children per family.
“The government is appealing to Egyptians to abide by family planning, but there are no clear restrictions to be implemented on having more than two children,” he told Arab News.
Attempts to force parents not to have more children are unlikely to work in Egypt, and “negative incentives” would not succeed, Zohry said.
“The government adopts a method of preaching national responsibility by telling parents that they should abide by family planning. But education remains key to containing a population boom,” he added.
“It’s with education that families will understand… the responsibilities associated with raising a child, sending them to school and fulfilling their needs.”
Education will also help families, especially those in rural areas, understand that family planning is not forbidden by religion, Zohry added.

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