Cablegate: Goe's National Population Council Reorganized With


DE RUEHEG #2190 1970841
R 160841Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: The GOE recently announced the
reorganization of Egypt's National Population Council (NPC)
to coordinate GOE-led family planning and population
assistance activities. NPC programming has stagnated in past
years as a result of weakened authority, inefficient
bureaucracy, and a decline in donor funding. The new Prime
Minister and minister-level leadership of the NPC, supported

by an experienced executive committee, signals GOE
recognition of the importance of population planning and
assistance programs. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) In June President Mubarak issued a decree renewing
the mandate and legal framework for Egypt's National
Population Council (NPC). The decree elevates the NPC's role
in addressing Egypt's population problem by appointing the
prime minister to head the council and tapping ministers from
key ministries to serve as members of the interagency body.
Ministers participating include ministers of Economic
Development, Information, Social Solidarity, Health and
Population, and Local Development. The NPC will also have an
executive committee, composed of leaders from two important
support institutions and three high-ranking population
experts, to facilitate the implementation of NPC programs.
The new Executive Committee includes the former lead on
USAID's Population Policy Project, the Head of the GOE's
State Information Service, and the Chairman of the Egyptian
Family Planning Association. In addition to its
Headquarters, the NPC has a regional population council in
each of Egypt's 26 governorates. Increased authority
resulting from NPC membership at the ministerial level, in
combination with population planning subject-matter experts,
will increase opportunities for cooperation, collaboration,
and accountability between the GOE's different
population-related ministries and regionally located staff.
More importantly, it should also improve the ability of the
NPC to operationalize its mandate.

3. (U) In a positive early sign, Prime Minister Nazif
announced during his first meeting in June with the Executive
Committee an increased budget for family planning, provided
there is evidence of "results-based activities." This
promising announcement continues the GOE's historical support
of family planning programs. Since the 1970s, USAID-funded
programs in cooperation with the GOE have played a major role
in improving contraceptive prevalence among Egyptian women
and population assistance in general. The United Nations
Population Fund (UNFPA) has also actively supported
population planning programs in Egypt. Sharp declines in
USAID and UNFPA funding in recent years have shifted the
financial burden of population-assistance programs to the
GOE. Early indicators from the NPC's leadership suggest GOE
commitment to continue funding these programs.

4. (U) Egypt's fertility rate has declined significantly
over the last four decades, from over 7.2 children per woman
in the early 1960s to 3.1 in 2000. However, current
population growth projections are still a source of concern
for Egyptian policy makers. Overall, population in Egypt is
expected to increase to 95.6 million in 2026, and reach 114.8
million in 2065. Egypt's current youth bulge portends future
challenges to reducing the country's fertility rate due to a
large proportion of girls who will soon reach reproductive
age. United Nations estimates predict that by 2020 14.3
million women will be in prime childbearing ages, compared to
9.2 million in 1999. Moreover, population growth will be
highest in the poorest regions of Egypt, calling for robust
engagement by the NPC in under-served areas of Egypt.

5. (U) COMMENT: Past success in curbing Egypt's fertility
rates highlight GOE commitment to family planning
programming. Recent declines in donor funding for
population-assistance activities present a challenge which
the GOE is taking on by providing a new framework for NPC
authority, activities, and funding. Given current
demographic trends, successful family planning initiatives
could have a positive effect on improved economic
development, minimized health risks to women and children,
greater access to social services, and curbing Egypt's
unemployment level. END COMMENT.

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