ANTANANARIVO – The U.S. government, along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is helping Madagascar attain a “Demographic Dividend.”
A Demographic Dividend is economic growth leveraged from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of a country’s working-age population is larger than the share of non-working-age citizens it supports.
As Madagascar’s large youthful population grows and its birthrates slow, the country has an opportunity to make key investments in areas such as health, education, employment, and governance that can allow it to follow the development path of many of its Asian neighbors to the east and emerge as a middle-income country.
A high-level conference on June 20 — sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and attended by senior government officials, and international donors — explored the nature of the Democratic Dividend and the challenges and opportunities for pursuing it.
“The demographic dividend contributes not only to a country’s development, but also to the well-being of its families and communities,” U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Tobias Glucksman said in his keynote remarks. “The combined effects of family planning with investments in education and the economy produce a [significant] increase in gross domestic product.”
Madagascar unveiled a Democratic Dividend “roadmap” in 2019 that identified 28 “pillars of emergence” to drive growth. In 2020, the Government of Madagascar committed to further action, prioritizing the Dividend as a means to reduce inequalities and poverty, overcome food insecurity, and improve living conditions across the country.
The June 20 conference was organized by USAID’s Health Policy Plus project, which has supported since 2016 Madagascar’s pursuit of the Demographic Dividend through training, establishment of an inter-ministerial task force, and development of the country’s Dividend roadmap. USAID further supports Madgascar’s efforts to achieve the Dividend through $16 million annually in family planning funds, as well as other investments in the health and economic sectors.
Among the commitments made at the conference, Government of Madagascar ministers pledged to integrate activities delineated in the country’s Dividend roadmap into their institutions annual work plans.
The United States stands side-by-side with Madagascar like ‘mpirahalahy mianala’ to help improve the health and well-being of the Malagasy people. As the largest single-country donor to Madagascar’s health sector, the U.S. Government in 2021 provided $85.5 million fund USAID health projects for the country.
These projects reduce Madagascar’s maternal and child mortality, provide access to potable water and sanitation, protect communities from malaria, improve access to family planning, ensure a reliable supply chain of vital health care provisions and medications, and reinforce the country’s national community health policy.