I am so pleased to be here to mark another milestone in our 50-year partnership with Kenya.
We are here today because we recognize that Kenya is in a position to benefit from the positive effects of a demographic change. The country is overflowing with young and ambitious Kenyans eager to contribute to the development of the country. If we can move them responsibly into their working age years as healthy, educated and productive adults, with fewer dependents, they can lead the development process and elevate Kenya to a middle-income country.
This is both a challenge, and an extraordinary opportunity. We know the benefits of a demographic dividend are not guaranteed; it takes smart policies and wise investments. Kenya needs to increase access to family planning to achieve the optimal demographic. This will also ensure that families are able to invest in the health and education of each and every child.
All of us here believe that Kenya can reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, and the “DemDiv” tool will help decision-makers figure out how. DemDiv compares the impact of policy combinations on future development, so we can chart the road ahead more accurately.
USAID supported the development of this tool as part of our Health Policy Project, which works to help Kenya achieve its health goals through stronger national and county level policy, advocacy and governance.
We are proud to see that the National Council on Population and Development played a lead role in piloting the DemDiv model in Kenya. Our work with NCPD dates back at least 25 years, when the Council was first formed. We are also pleased to see that the Population Studies Research Institute was also a key participant. In the 1970s, USAID worked with the University of Nairobi to establish this institution, dedicated to promoting the understanding of population dynamics, and we are happy to learn that they are still going strong.
Our work with both of these organizations is a part of our longstanding commitment to support Kenya’s family planning policy. We started supporting this pioneering policy in 1972; and today we continue to help couples access the information and tools they need to plan their families. Our programs are ensuring these important services are available in government-run and private clinics across the country. We are also supporting the National Council on Population and Development in their work with parliamentarians to advocate for a family planning budget line item in the Ministry of Health budget, and their outreach to county governments.
We recognize that this demographic transition is occurring at a time where Kenya’s governance structure is devolving. USAID’s support for devolution is a major focus of USAID’s new strategy that lays out a clear vision for supporting Vision 2030. We are working with the Government of Kenya at both the national and county level to scale up solutions that match the youth population.
Our programs are enhancing the quality of the education and health services young people receive, increasing their skill level, and empowering them to become productive and economically active members of society. Helping youth achieve their full potential, and absorbing them into a productive economy is key to economic growth and prosperity.
Our 50-year partnership is built not only on our commitment to work together, but also on our ability to share ideas and resources, like DemDiv, that help us meet the great challenges of our time. I am optimistic this tool will help Kenya realize the promise of the demographic dividend and make the most of this moment in history.
Last updated: November 21, 2014