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Multisectoral approach to population dynamics

A multisectoral approach to understanding the current situation of population dynamics in a country or region can provide a solid point of departure for action, coordination and partner involvement in planning and implementing development programmes.

The point of departure for any undertaking is understanding the current situation and context in which one plans to intervene. Specific aspects of population dynamics, such as population growth, large proportions of young people, or strong internal migration, influence the planning and implementation of measures in many fields of development. On the basis of population data, studies can make recommendations on how demographic factors can better be taken into account when designing programmes and policies in one or several sectors.

A multisectoral approach is particularly relevant for a cross-cutting issue such as population dynamics. Where individual sectors tend to work in ‘silo mode’, each pursuing its own research and activities – which can lead to costly duplication of efforts – associating stakeholders from different sectors in a common effort creates synergies and enhances efficiency. By putting together the data obtained from the different fields, each of which has a partial view of the issue, all gain a more complete, multidimensional overview of the population dynamics situation in the country or region.

How can German development cooperation support partner countries’ multisectoral approach to population dynamics?

German development cooperation supports partners in developing solutions tailor-made to their specific situation. In view of strengthening national institutions, the point of departure can be a joint assessment with partners of their need for support on 1) collecting demographic data, 2) handling gaps in data, 3) analysing and interpreting population data, and 4) using the findings for policy planning.

Multisectoral assessments inventorise existing data sources and describe how they are being used in different sectors. They also outline the capacities of the national and local institutions involved in data collection and/or use. Multisectoral assessments compile, analyse and systematise existing demographic data from different sectors. Such assessments provide a basis for development planning which is both demographically sensitive and coherent across sectors. Implicating key partners and stakeholders in the multisectoral assessment process from the start will ensure coordination and participation, and can be an effective way to bring home to decision-makers the importance of population dynamics for planning. To ensure cohesion, transparency and ownership, it is important from the start to associate all concerned stakeholders (e.g. development partners, national and local authorities and technical experts) in all steps of the process.

For more information on the multisectoral approach to population dynamics, please refer to Chapter 3.2.2 of the handbook.

Example from Togo: Development of German cooperation priority sectors in the context of heavy internal migrant flows

In Togo, it is mainly young people who migrate from rural areas to cities in search of work. This movement affects all three priority area programmes of German development cooperation: agriculture and rural development; vocational training and youth employment; and good governance and decentralisation. The country’s registration systems and statistical institutions do not have sufficient capacities to collect demographic data in a standardised manner. German development cooperation financed a 14-month cross-cutting initiative supporting integration of population dynamics into sector planning.

The first step was associating stakeholders from the three priority areas in conducting a comprehensive assessment of how demographic changes influence the country’s development, focussing particularly on population growth, the high proportion of young people within the population, and the heavy influx of rural migrants into the cities. The assessment also studied national and local capacities for collecting and analysing data.

On this basis, with support from German development cooperation, the Togolese Ministry of Development Planning prepared a manual on how to integrate population dynamics into national planning Guide d’intégration de la dynamique démographique dans la planification politique nationale.

The manual has since been introduced to all Togolese ministries as guidance for their respective sectoral planning. Training courses on collecting and analysing demographic data were organised for ministry officials and statisticians in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Demographic projections were developed for the three priority sectors, and the manual was used to develop the new Togolese agricultural and education strategies.

The lessons learned and challenges of the pilot measure in Togo are documented in the German Health Practice Collection study Getting a better grasp on Togo’s future: Population dynamics at the heart of development planning.

© GIZ/Florian Kopp
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