Egypt aims to reduce its surging fertility rate over the next 15 years, a government minister has said, in an effort to address overpopulation concerns in the Arab world’s most populous country.
With about 90 million people – a population the United Nations projects to hit 103 million by 2030 – Egypt has struggled for decades to provide its citizens with jobs and services. Most Egyptians live on a sliver of land along the Nile River and the Mediterranean coast, away from the vast desert that makes up most of the country.
According to a plan laid out by Minister of State for Population Hala Youssef, the government will provide financial incentives to keep children in school, expand family planning services and boost public awareness – while working closely with non-governmental organisations and local communities.
The aim is to get Egyptian women to attain a fertility rate of 2.4 children, she said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference on youth hosted by the US-based NGO Population Council in Cairo. Women currently give birth to 3.5 children each on average.