Zambia’s Parliamentary Caucus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is currently participating in the 56th Session of the Commission on Population and Development in New York, USA. The program, which runs from the 10th to the 14th of April 2023, includes an Opening Session, General Debate, Side Events, and Expert Panel Discussions on the Reports of the Secretary General.
Zambia’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, with a 3.4% annual growth rate between 2010 and 2022. According to the preliminary 2022 Census of Population and Housing report, the country’s population now stands at 19.6 million, up from 13.1 million in 2010. With a 3.4% annual growth rate, Zambia’s population is estimated to double in 20 year’s time. The high population growth rate is due to the persistent high fertility and declining mortality which has resulted in a very youthful population, with about 79% under 35 years, coupled with high youth unemployment (19%) and poverty levels (54%). Inequality levels in Zambia are also very high, with a Gini Coefficient of 0.69.
The Parliamentary SRHR Caucus is calling for more strategic investments in the reproductive health and education sectors in order to meet national education and development targets. Specifically, they recommend investing in early childhood, primary and secondary education, including teacher recruitment and the procurement of appropriate teaching and learning materials. The Caucus also emphasizes the importance of preventing child marriage and teenage pregnancy, and calls for the implementation of culturally sensitive and age-appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), life skills, and health education.
Zambia’s population growth will continue to exert pressure on the provision of essential services such as education, health, and water and sanitation. As the population is predominantly youthful, the demand for educational services has increased, and education services will need to be expanded to cater for the growing population.
The Parliamentary SRHR Caucus has expressed gratitude to the Office of the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia for facilitating their participation in the program. They have also extended special thanks to their SRHR partners, including UNESCO Zambia, UNFPA Zambia, UNAIDS Zambia, Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia – PPAZ, SAfAIDS, and Centre for Reproductive Health and Education, among others. The Caucus is represented by Vice Chairperson Hon Twaambo Mutinta MP Itezhi Tezhi and Secretary General Hon Sunday Chanda.