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
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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.


UK to send third warship HMS Duncan to Gulf

Updated 7 min 2 sec ago
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UK to send third warship HMS Duncan to Gulf

LONDON: Britain will send a third Royal Navy warship to the Gulf, the defense ministry announced Tuesday, while insisting that it did not “reflect an escalation” of tensions with Iran in the region.
Britain has already sent the HMS Duncan, an air defense destroyer, to cover for frigate HMS Montrose while it undergoes maintenance in nearby Bahrain, and will also send frigate HMS Kent “later this year.”
Reports said it would head to the Gulf in mid-September.
HMS Montrose last week warned off three Iranian gunboats that UK officials said were trying to “impede” the progress of a British supertanker through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.
The defense ministry said the HMS Kent would be “taking over” from HMS Duncan, but added that an “occasional overlap of ships when one deployment begins and another ends... is not uncommon,” suggesting that all three could be in the region at some point.
The ministry said the deployments were “long-planned” to ensure “an unbroken presence” in the crucial waterway and “do not reflect an escalation in the UK posture in the region.”
Iranian officials have denied last Wednesday’s incident in the Strait of Hormuz ever happened.
The British government has in any case raised the alert level for ships traveling through Iranian waters to three on a three-point scale, indicating a “critical” threat.
HMS Duncan is an air defense destroyer that carries a set of heavy Harpoon anti-ship missiles and has a company and crew in excess of 280.
Tensions have been escalating in the region for weeks, with US President Donald Trump last month calling off at the last minute an air strike on Iran over its downing of a US spy drone.
The Strait of Hormuz episode occurred a week after UK Royal Marines helped the Gibraltar authorities detain an Iranian tanker that US officials believe was trying to deliver oil to Syria in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.
Iran has bristled at the arrest and issued a series of increasingly ominous warnings to both the United States and Britain about its right to take unspecified actions in reprisal.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to ease tensions on Monday by saying the tanker would be released if Tehran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria.