Health & Wealth

“Two babies is enough,” Egypt tells poor families – birth control

The Egyptian government has launched an initiative aimed at curtailing population growth. The programme is called “Two’s Enough”

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As Egypt’s population heads towards 100 million, the government is trying to change the minds of the poor people by saying “Two Is Enough” is the government’s first family-planning campaign aiming to challenge the traditions of large families in rural Egypt.

Egypt’s population is growing by 2.6 million a year, a high rate for a country where water and jobs are scarce and schools and hospitals overcrowded. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says the two biggest threats to Egypt are terrorism and population growth.

The Egyptian government has launched an initiative aimed at curtailing population growth. The programme is called “Two’s Enough”

“We are faced with scarcity in water resources … scarcity in jobs, job creation, and we need to really control this population growth so that people can feel the benefits of development,” Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali told Reuters.

Decades ago, Egypt had a family-planning programme, supported by the United States. The fertility rate fell from 5.6 children per woman in 1976 to 3.0 in 2008 while the use of contraceptives went up from 18.8 percent to 60.3 percent. Large amounts of contraceptives were made available and advertisements increased demand for birth control.

Support for family planning from the Egyptian government and large sums from donors helped make the programme successful, said Duff Gillespie, who directed USAID’s population office from 1986 to 1993.

The two-year campaign targets more than 1.1 million poor families with up to three children. The Social Solidarity Ministry, with local NGOs, has trained volunteers to make home visits and encourage people to have fewer children.

Mothers are invited to seminars with preachers who say that Islam allows family planning and doctors who answer questions. Billboards and TV ads promote smaller families. The government aims to reduce the current fertility rate of 3.5 to 2.4 by 2030.

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