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  • Past initiatives in the 70s, 80s, and 90s proved successful with the national fertility rate dropping to rate fell from 5.6 children per woman in 1976 to 3.0 in 2008.

    Past initiatives in the 70s, 80s, and 90s proved successful with the national fertility rate dropping to rate fell from 5.6 children per woman in 1976 to 3.0 in 2008. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 February 2019

“The main challenge is that we’re trying to change a way of thinking," said campaign coordinator, Randa Fares.

In an effort to stunt the booming population, Egyptian officials are introducing a new family-planning campaign for the lower classes called “Two Is Enough,” Reuters reported Wednesday.

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With a population of 100 million which is expanding at a rate of 2.6 million per year, the state is hoping to convince impoverished rural sectors to part from the large, traditional family structure.

“The main challenge is that we’re trying to change a way of thinking. To change a way of thinking is difficult,” said Randa Fares, coordinator of the campaign at the Social Solidarity Ministry.

Decades ago, Egypt had a family-planning program, supported by the United States. The fertility rate fell from 5.6 children per woman in 1976 to 3.0 in 2008 while the use of contraceptives went up from 18.8 percent to 60.3 percent. Large amounts of contraceptives were made available and advertisements increased demand for birth control.

Support for family planning from the Egyptian government and large sums from donors helped make the program successful, said Duff Gillespie, who directed USAID’s population office from 1986 to 1993. However, without continued financial support, the project quickly fell away leading to a second boom of babies in 2014 with an increased fertility rate of 3.5.

Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali told Reuters, “We are faced with scarcity in water resources ... scarcity in jobs, job creation, and we need to really control this population growth so that people can feel the benefits of development.”

“Two Is Enough” is mainly financed by Egyptian money, with the Social Solidarity Ministry spending 75 million Egyptian pounds ($4.27 million) and the U.N. providing 10 million pounds, according to the ministry.

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