Egypt's Governmental Policies Towards Population Growth

In the beginning...

The Egyptian government's concern and awareness in the area of population policies started in 1953, when a National Commission for Population Matters was established within the structure of a national planning organization called the "Permanent Council for Services". Nevertheless, it was only until 1962, that the Egyptian government implemented their first population policy aimed to reduce fertility. Although this policy had a small effect on the population, in 1973 the second stage of the policy was introduced focusing on a socioeconomic approach to fertility. Two years later the policy was again revisited and the third stage of the plan was implemented and dealt with fertility through a developmental approach. Finally in 1984 the National Population Council was established and two years later Egypt implemented their most important policy yet the Third National Population Policy (Cochrane et al).

What is the Third National Population Policy?

The Third National Population Policy is based on five basic principles:
  • The right for couples to have access to family planning and be educated about all possible options to allow them to reach the decision that fits with their religion and values
  • To avoid using sterilization and abortion as methods of family planning
  • To focus on the rights of the individual and avoid practices of coercion or negative incentive; the development of education, health and culture for the benefit of the individual
  • To encourage voluntary and community involvement (such NGOs) to increase the success of the program
  • The ban on abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger

USAID a major contributor...

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development, it has been providing US economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for over 40 years. Since 1984, USAID has played a large part as a donor to Egypt’s family planning programs. In particular, USAID has worked to expand the role of the private sector in providing services to Egyptians. Although USAID has been a great help to the Egyptian government, it is necessary that changes are made to the program to ensure that Egypt will eventually be able to be economically sustainable in supporting their family program initiatives (Cochrane et al).

Religion plays an important role...

It is important to note that in Egypt, on of the main barriers to implement an anti-natalist policy stems from religious beliefs generally based on the misinterpretation of islamic principles. Some people believe that children are a gift of God and as consequence we should have more rather than less children. In doing so they forget the economical burden of raising a large family.

The Results...

In summary, we can conclude that Egypt’s family planning program has yielded many benefits for Egypt.
These include:

  • A population that is smaller by 12 million, (as a result of implementing the Third Family Planning policy), nearly the size of Cairo; A more favorable age distribution, with 10 million fewer young people in the nonworking ages;
  • A lower infant mortality rate, resulting in over 3 million fewer infant deaths during the last 25 years;
  • A lower mortality rate for children under age five, resulting in over 6 million fewer early- childhood deaths during the last 25 years;
  • Fewer maternal deaths, with 17,000 mothers’ lives saved over the last 25 years;
  • Lower education, immunization, and food subsidy costs that far exceed family planning program costs
  • An increase of 23% of the contraception prevalence rate in the last 30 years
  • A decrease of 2.2 live births in the total fertility rate in the last 30 years

These accomplishments are the result of a highly cost-effective family planning program. The LE 2,400 million spent on family planning during the 25-year period between 1980 and 2005 was more than offset by the LE 46,000 million cost savings in education, immunization, and food subsidies. These savings have allowed Egypt to maintain and improve the quality of public services in these sectors and ultimately the quality of life of Egyptians. Undoubtedly, as other studies have shown, other sectors, such as general healthcare, housing, job opportunities, and national economic growth, have also benefited from the family planning program.

The success of Egypt's anti-natal population policies is undeniable. Nevertheless, Egypt still has a long way to go before reaching the goal of a TFR of 2.1. As the most populous arab nation, the republic of Egypt has demonstrated an honorable record of achievements in the last 30 years.