Egypt’s birth rate drops as economic pressure mounts

For Egypt's government and civil society groups, tackling the growing problem of street children is proving difficult. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2018

Egypt’s birth rate drops as economic pressure mounts

  • Egypt recorded 26.8 births per 1000 people in 2017 compared to 28.6 in 2016
  • According to the 2017 census, there are now 104 million people, meaning Egypt ranks 13th worldwide in terms of population

CAIRO: Egypt has claimed a victory in the battle to reduce population growth but experts say a drop in the birth rate reflects the country’s economic woes rather than an effective government policy.
Egypt recorded 26.8 births per 1000 people in 2017 compared to 28.6 in 2016, according to an annual report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization an d Statistics (CAPMAS).
The government has been focused on reducing birth rates as part of its 2030 development plan to reduce health and educations costs.
“The population strategy we built aims to reach 112 million Egyptians in 2030 instead of 128 million, which will save around 200 billion (Egyptian) pounds within the period of 2017-2030 — specifically in insurance, health and education,” said Tarek Tawfik, the deputy health minister.
Mohamed Sherif, a Cairo-based economic analyst, told Arab News that the reduced rates were down to the harsh economic conditions faced by Egyptians rather than government strategy.
“The Egyptian pound devaluation and the continuous rise in prices is the main driver,” he said.
He added that studies have shown that higher living costs lead to a drop in birth rates.
“Lower marriage rates and fear of burden surely affects the birth rates, he said.
Last week, the Ministry of Social Solidarity launched a campaign urging Egyptian families to limit the number of children they have.
The “Two is enough” program aims to change people’s perception in rural areas that having small families through birth control is religiously forbidden, said Rania Fares, the ministry’s program coordinator. She said they aimed to reduce the number of children per family to 2.4 in rural areas.
“The importance of spacing child births will be stressed and suitable birth control methods will be provided, Fares said.
Egyptians have been suffering particularly due to extreme austerity measures that have increased water, electricity, fuel and transport prices.
With a newborn every 15 seconds, Egypt has one of the highest population growth rates in the world.
According to the 2017 census, there are now 104 million people, meaning Egypt ranks 13th worldwide in terms of population.
In February, the Ministry of Health announced that the birth rates in Egypt have seen a decrease by 4 million babies in the past three years, claiming that 2015 witnessed 6.68 million births.
The numbers contradict with the 2015 reports by CAPMAS which claimed there were only 2.69 million births in 2015.

Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub, above, said the government is determined to return the Kurdish-led areas. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 37 sec ago

Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

  • Syrian defence minister made the remarks during a press conference on Monday
  • SDF said the remarks expose the government’s divisive plans

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Syria’s Kurds have criticized the “threatening language” of the Damascus regime after it pledged to retake northeastern areas they control by reconciliation or by force.

The minority have largely stayed out of Syria’s war, instead carving out a de-facto autonomous region across a large swathe of northern and northeastern Syria.

That region is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who have been battling the Daesh group with backing from a US-led coalition.

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub on Monday said his government would recapture all areas held by the SDF “in one of two ways: a reconciliation agreement or... by force.”

In a statement late Monday, the semi-autonomous administration slammed his comments.

“The Syrian defense minister’s statement regarding the SDF... reflects the continuation of the racist and sterile policy that has led Syria to this disastrous situation,” it said in a statement.

“The use of threatening language against the SDF who have liberated and protected the north and east of Syria from terrorists only serves those forces working to divide Syria,” it said.

US President Donald Trump’s announcement in December of a pullout of all US forces from Syria shocked the Kurds and sent them grappling to mend fences with Damascus.

Dialogue between both sides has been ongoing, but has failed to bear fruit.

Damascus rejects Kurdish self-rule and wants a return of government institutions to oil-rich SDF-held areas.

The Kurds want protection from a long-threatened Turkish offensive, but seek some form of decentralization from Damascus.

“The autonomous administration... stands by its position of the need for a solution and dialogue within the Syrian framework for all pending issues,” the Kurdish authorities said.

“But we want all sides to know that we, while choosing the political solution, we will spare no effort in the legitimate defense of our rights if necessary,” he said.

Eight years into a war that has killed more than 370,000 people, the Damascus regime controls almost two-thirds of the country after a series of victories against rebels and jihadists.

But the SDF-held region, a northwestern jihadist bastion and border areas held by Turkey’s Syrian proxies remain beyond its control.