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World Population Day commemorated

The World Population Day was celebrated nationally on 11 July with a half-day symposium in Jijiga, capital of the Somali Regional State, in which more than 500 people participated.

This is one of the few times that the World Population Day was observed nationally outside the capital city. The day also served as an occasion to launch the World at 7 Billion Campaign. Moreover, the event served as a venue to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the promulgation of the Population Policy of Ethiopia.

Delivering the remarks of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the occasion, Woizero Genet Mengistu, Director of the Population Affairs Directorate with the Ministry, noted that in recognition of its pivotal place in development, population has been included in the Ethiopian Government's five year Growth and Transformation Plan as one of the cross-cutting issues.

"In this respect raising the awareness of society, building the capacity of experts, expanding family planning services, and mainstreaming and implementing population issues in sectoral development plans are among the priority activities," Woizero Genet added. 
Dr. Benoit Kalasa, UNFPA Country Representative, noted delivering the message of the Executive Director of UNFPA that "protecting reproductive health and rights is fundamental to our collective future and sustainable development. Together we can meet the needs of some 215 million women in developing countries who want to plan and space their births but do not have access to modern contraception. Together we can prevent the deaths of 1,000 women every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth."

Underlining the critical importance of investing in adolescent and youth who constitute a sizable portion of the world's population he said "every young person deserves education, including sexuality education, and access to comprehensive health services. With the right policies, investments and social support, young people can enjoy healthier lives free of poverty and enhance prospects for peace and stability."

Dr. Kalasa indicated that the World at 7 Billion Campaign was being launched across the world on the World Population Day.

The commemoration of the World Population Day 2011 also served as a venue to disseminate the Detailed Statistical Results of the Third Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia - held in 2007 - for the Somali Region.

Moreover, a presentation was made by an official from the Population Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Finance and Economic development on the growth trend of the Ethiopian population.

The World Population Day commemoration event was organized by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the Central Statistical Agency, UNFPA, Integrated Family Health Programme, the German Foundation for World Population, Consortium of Reproductive Health Association, Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia, and other partners. In addition to the international theme chosen for the day, "The World at 7 Billion," a national theme was chosen for this year titled "Small, Happy, and Prosperous Family." 
The symposium was opened by the President of the Somali Regional State. Senior government officials, members of the diplomatic missions, representatives of UN agencies, CSOs, and others participated in the commemoration of the World Population Day.

Music performances and circus shows also formed part of the commemoration of the World Population Day in Jijiga.

In addition to the commemoration of World Population Day on the day of the event a press conference was organized on 7 July. Moreover, a questions and answers programme was sponsored on Ethiopian Television, the national television station.