World Population Day

12 July, 2011 – Internal migration and urbanisation could pose problems for Bhutan in the near future according to UN acting representative, Dr Gepke Hingst.

She was speaking at a function yesterday in Thimphu to observe world population day. Bhutan is currently drafting a national population policy to address issues and concerns associated with a doubling of its population by 2030.

Dr Gepke Hingst said that more than 50 percent of the world’s population currently lived in urban centres. While the number is smaller in Bhutan, at around 30 percent of the population living in urban centres, she said that she expected this situation to change “drastically”.

She pointed out that urban centres, while providing easy access to public services, did not provide “peace of mind” if not designed properly.

Dr Gepke Hingst also stressed the importance of including women in the solution finding process. “I know that the situation for women in Bhutan is fortunately not comparable to the rest of South Asia. However, there are also areas where we can improve,” she said. “You have beautiful gender parity, when it comes to education, more or less up to secondary level, and then, oops,” she said.

She referred to the last two elections in Bhutan and said that this showed a lack of women in the public decision making level.

On youth inclusion, she said that this aspect is important, because innovation or new solutions come from the youth, “most of the time”, she said.

Health minister Zangley Dukpa, said that if the world is not careful about population growth, problems such as food shortages, water scarcity, and health hazards would be faced. Lyonpo Zangley Dukpa also stressed the need for a comprehensive population policy. “It’s high time we have reliable population data, which plays a critical role for development planning processes,” he said. “Last year I stressed, this year I’ll also stress that the ministry of home and cultural affairs should develop a good birth registration system.”

“Counting is accountability, it means every baby is registered, can be vaccinated, can go to school, can be protected, and can grow into a mature responsible adult,” she added. “It’s important that we count each and all of us, because it shows that each of all of us matters,” said Dr Gepke Hingst.

The event also saw the committee, responsible for drafting the national population policy, present details on the current trends of population growth, and the issues and challenges that Bhutan will face with such growth.


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