As the most populous Arab country with about 105 million people, Egypt is stepping up population-control efforts, trying to make it an asset, rather than a liability.
Titled 'Diagnosing the Population Situation in Egypt and Improving Population Characteristics', a session held called for promoting a roadmap to control the population growth that poses a huge burden on the country's resources and budget, reports Xinhua news agency.
As part of the National Dialogue that began on May 3, this session was also attended by various groups from the government and society.
"We do need to activate and finance the National Population and Development Strategy (2015-2030) that works on enhancing family planning, empowering women, promoting the welfare of youth and teenagers, improving education, and advancing media and social communication," said Talat Abdel-Gawad, a member of the Board of Trustees of the dialogue.
Cognizant of the overpopulation threats to national security, Abdel-Gawad affirmed the necessity to establish three laws to curb school evasion, child marriage, and child labour.
Neveen Ebeid, another participant in the session, pointed out that economic factors, such as funding problems, hinder the strategies of family planning.
Ebeid said health survey failed to nail down the targeted places of high and low births in the past few decades, highlighting the need for the National Council of Population to be directly affiliated with the Egyptian Presidency.
Ahmad Ashour, a housing expert, agreed that overpopulation is the main obstacle to development plans, predicting that Egypt will see a population explosion in the coming decades along with worse health and physical conditions.
Meanwhile, Neven Othman, a member of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, considered the population growth a grant of human resources if it is matched by economic growth and good investment, calling for maximizing the roles of civil society and private sector through an independent mechanism to follow up and evaluate official strategies.
In the past few years, Egypt has been working on solutions to curb overpopulation.
In March, the government said it will pay married women aged between 21 and 45 with no more than two children an annual incentive of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($32.3). They will receive the total amount when they turn 45.
In February 2022, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi launched a national family development project to tackle the health, education, social, cultural, and economic aspects of overpopulation.
By the end of 2020, Egypt had adopted a comprehensive strategy that provided free sustainable means of birth control, setting up an appropriate mechanism to reach every woman in Egypt and positive incentives to control the population growth.
Amro Hassan, the former secretary-general of the National Population Council, told Xinhua in an interview that handling overpopulation is a priority for the government which needs political willingness, a disciplined institutional framework, a strategy, and funding to make the plan successful.