New population policy key to our prosperity


Kenya Nation Bureau of Statistics enumerators in Kanduyi, Bungoma County during the 2019 Population and Housing Census.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The policy focuses on population size, growth and structure.
  • The policy aims to achieve a more balanced age structure.

In 1994, the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) held in Cairo marked a transformative moment in the global discourse on population and development.

Delegates from 179 countries, Kenya included, converged to adopt a groundbreaking programme of action that shifted the paradigm from a narrow focus on population control to one that emphasised reproductive health, women’s rights and sustainable development.

The Cairo Programme of Action noted that population issues are not merely about numbers but are intrinsically linked to human rights and well-being.

It called for a holistic approach, integrating population concerns into broader development strategies. Over the past three decades, the principles enshrined in the programme of action have guided global and national efforts in addressing population and development challenges.

Economic growth and development

Kenya, for instance, recently launched a new population policy — the Kenya National Population Policy for Sustainable Development, Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2023 — that takes a proactive approach in addressing demographic trends.

It focuses on population size, growth and structure. The policy provides a harmonised and responsive framework for addressing population and development, cognizant of the fact that our population is growing rapidly, with a significant proportion of youth. This youthful population, if well managed, can be a powerful driver of economic growth and development. 

The policy aims to achieve a more balanced age structure. This involves reducing dependency ratios and increasing the proportion of working-age individuals, thereby creating a more productive and economically dynamic population.

It further integrates population issues into development planning and implementation through a multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional approach.

Educated and empowered population

In the same breath, the policy also holds the government accountable for meeting global, regional, and national commitments on population and development. At its core, the policy envisions a secure, healthy, educated and empowered population capable of driving sustainable development. 

The National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) aims to enable informed choices on family size and access to reproductive health services and education.

Going forward, NCPD is making a clarion call to all Kenyans, policymakers, lawmakers, development partners, religious leaders and the mass media to support the effective implementation of the population policy.

By joining hands with NCPD, Kenyans will take the driving seat in ensuring that the policy’s ambitious goals, which are the cornerstone for a prosperous and sustainable future, are realised.

Dr Sheikh is the Director-General, National Council for Population and Development. [email protected]