RRC’s Webinar: The Impact of Rapid Population Growth in Iraq
Rudaw Research Center held webinar on the impact of rapid population growth in Iraq
-Dr. Rita Columbia, Representative of UNFPA in Iraq
-Dr. Mahdi al- Alaq, National Census adviser to the UNFPA.
-Dr. Isam Taha, UNFPA adviser on population and development affairs.
This webinar, moderated by Mahmood Baban, focused on the issues surrounding the Iraqi Population Growth and the UNFPA plan to help and support the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region.
The representative of UNFPA in Iraq regarding to the Iraqi census, scheduled for the end of this year highlighted that “The nationwide census is decided to be conducted this year, and I hope it will not be delayed. And if delayed, hopefully, it will be conducted next year or the soonest”.
The growth rate for Iraq’s population last year was 2.6%, and now the population has exceeded 40 million. Certainly, the speed of population growth can also have major political, economic and social consequences. As the new generation demands jobs, political participation and better living, this can pave the way for a major political, economic and social transformation in the long term in Iraq.
In the beginning of her briefing, Dr. Rita Columbia talked about the UNFPA activities globally and in Iraq and said “UNFPA helps countries to identify and standing a demographic trend, the trends that are critical for development”.
Regarding to the demographic changes in Iraq she said “like many other countries, Iraq today experiencing increase in youth population. Its population reached 40 million people. And the vast majority of the population is young. When we look at this demographic trend it means that there is good opportunity for development in Iraq. The age group between 15-29 years old are approximately reaches %60 of Iraq’s total population.’’
Regarding to the importance of census and data collection, Dr. Rita emphasized that “The last census in Iraq was done if I’m not mistaken was conducted in 1987. It’s kind of a long time to wait for the new data to come. So it’s more than 20 years now, right which means that some of the policies and programs address”. Also she said that “UNFPA provides advice to government at different levels or how to adjust their policies and programs to benefit from the population trends, from the population dynamics”.
And she emphasized that “I just want to remind that the census the population housing census of 2020 was one of the commitments that the government of Iraq made in the conference of Nairobi that happened in 2019. So that’s the conference was dedicated to implementation and advances of the achievements of the International Conference on population and development”.
“Conducting the census by electronic is a pleasant news, the results of which will soon appear, but preparations for the census have not been completed or have not reached a level for conducting this year, especially in the Kurdistan Region,” said Sirwan Muhammad, head of the Kurdistan Regional statistics committee.
Dr. Mahdi al-Alaq, national census adviser to the UNFPA about the increase rate of population in Iraq said “”Iraq is one of the countries with the highest rate of population growth in the world, and in 1977 Iraq’s growth rate was 3.2%, and in 1987 the population increase was 3.1%, according to the latest data from the Iraqi Planning Ministry, which exceeded 40 million people”.
About the difference in the rate of population increase in Iraq, Dr. Mahdi highlighted that “There is a difference from one province to another, and the lowest rate of development is in Sulaimaniyah, Erbil and Baghdad, more than in Baghdad because of people’s migration due to lack of job opportunities”.
Dr. Isam Taha,UNFPA adviser on population and development on the balance of Iraq’s population growth and economic, political and social development said: “Yes, there is an imbalance between population development and the economy for all countries in this region, in which Iraq is facing a major challenge to population development in the face of economic growth.”
The high number of unemployed population and poor education can lead to emergence of criminal and extremist groups. Dr. Mahdi said “in fact, no data is available, but now the unemployment rate is about 30% and the poverty rate is about 20% in 2018, but due to the financial crisis and the results of the spread of the covide-19, according to the latest joint study by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and the World Bank, which I was one of those involved, the poverty rate has risen to 30%.’’
Finally, Dr. Rita Colombia mentioned violence against women and marriage of children girls in Iraq and Kurdistan region said “”In fact, the statistics are more than the reports show, because most cases are not recorded by police and women themselves, which are happening in Iraq”. Also, Dr. Mahdi said “violence against women has increased in Iraq during the spread of the Coronavirus in Iraq”.
At the end of the webinar Dr. Rita thanked Rudaw Research Center and suggested to organize series of seminars and events like this on the population growth in Iraq.