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Cairo Egypt: ICPD Conference


SEPTEMBER 10, 1994

Cairo Egypt: ICPD Conference


By Ashali Varma

Baroness Chaulker of Wallasey, the Minister of Overseas Development and head of the United  Kingdom Delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development, on Friday addressed the issue of finical resources and commitments by donor countries to population programs. The following are excerpts from an interview the Baroness gave to The Earth Times:

Will donor countries make financial pledges at The ICPD Conference?

There is something different too—we are dealing with a human issue, and people actually feel they can handle human issues—-perhaps more easily than environmental issues. Rio concerned our own lives just as much, in my view, but we can do something about the numbers problem, and we already are-in certain countries-doing it. We have to extend that work to other countries. In terms of funding this initiative, the Programme of Action is more manageable.

Couldn’t the donor countries use this Conference as a platform to demonstrate their commitment to the issues by pledging money here?

That’s not always as easy as it sounds. I fight each year for my budget, I then have to decide how it is split up, inevitably donors will commit money to countries they think are going to use it wisely. You can talk about global sums. But in terms of planning for Ghana or for Egypt, you can only do that when you have had a dialogue as a donor with the country concerned. Because, unless you have the commitment of the receiving country, the grant never achieves its full value.

Developing countries already have family planning programs and are putting  their own money in–isn’t  that a  commitment?

It is a commitment, and that is where the donor countries should be adding, improving, backing up what is already being done. We, for instance contribute very significantly to the Egyptian population services—to the special clinic in downtown Cairo, and we’ve been doing that for two years. We know that it is a system that is working in Cairo. So, having tried it out we shall be prepared to replicate that. Sometimes you get resistance to talking about big numbers, because they are meaningless in terms of actually helping the woman who needs contraception.

 When you pledged nearly $150 million (for the next two years) in July, you had already worked out the specifics then?

We had worked a good deal of it out. Three years ago, I pledged 130 million a year (for three years), and we looked at countries where we believed we could help their efforts— [The new money] will provide at 1east 50 new programs.

Wouldn’t pledges here create a kind of momentum?

Well that is why, on July 11, World Population Day, I made my announcement: an increase of 60 percent, to encourage others to come forward and pledge. At that stage, we were anxious as to whether others would come forward, and anxious about the role the Vatican would play in Cairo. So it was done purposely to try and encourage others.