Wed, 03 Aug 1994

Ten developing countries win support on population

JAKARTA (JP): Ten developing countries yesterday formed a new forum to jointly address their population problems, with ringing endorsements from three international funding agencies.

The international partnership on population and development was forged at the end of the two-day meeting in Jakarta yesterday.

All 10 countries who were represented -- Bangladesh, Kenya, Colombia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Indonesia -- joined the forum but officials stressed that the partnership is not an exclusive club and that other countries would be welcome to join later.

The United Nation Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the Rockefeller Foundation and the Population Council immediately gave their endorsements to the partnership.

Indonesian State Minister of Population Haryono Suyono, during a joint press conference, said the support from the three organizations indicates that developed countries are beginning to respect the initiatives of developing countries.

He said the forum agreed to ask President Soeharto to promote the partnership at the forthcoming International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, next month.

"The concept of this partnership is really good and we are open for new members. I hope this partnership will get support from the (Cairo) conference and more countries will join."

Jyoti S. Singh of the UNFPA hailed the efforts of the ten countries to seek endorsement from the conference in Cairo.

He said his support for the partnership is in line with the mission of the UNFPA as it was set up to help developing countries in population activities.

The idea of forming the partnership was first broached in Bali in 1992, when Indonesia hosted the Asia Pacific Conference on Population.

Steve Sinding of the Rockefeller Foundation said he was very pleased that the initiative has moved so rapidly so as to become a real commitment of the ten developing countries.

"The Foundation will be very pleased to continue to support the initiative in any way we can in whatever modest way required to help. It's clear to me that the initiative is from the developing countries and the momentum is unstoppable."


Margaret Cotley of the Population Council, a science and research organization, said the creation of the partnership marks an "exiting" development to accelerate the application of science and research in the field of population.

She gave an example of Indonesia's success on applying implant contraception which had been developed by her organization. Such a success story could be disseminated to other developing countries which have just started to use the contraception.

From the scientific side, she said Indonesia's experience in implementing the contraception has given her organization a lot of meaningful information about the contraception, such as its side effects, its contra-indication, how it would be received by many different societies and many other scientific aspects.

Mark Cheetaway, who is responsible for Cairo Media Program for the Partners, said he will conduct a series of media activities, designed to make sure that the partnership becomes one of the major news stories of the upcoming population conference in Cairo.

"We conduct this because President Soeharto has agreed to give a very high profile from the beginning of the conference, and we can use that to encourage the newspapers and televisions all over the world to cover it," he said. (11)