By Byron Mutingwende
Key findings from the Zimbabwe 2017 Inter-Censal Demographic Survey (ICDS) will inform policies, planning, implementation and monitoring of interventions to stimulate social and economic growth.
The Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT) launched the ICDS results on 22 May 2018 with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Harare.
The survey was conducted by ZIMSTAT from 18-23 August 2017, with technical, financial and material support from UNFPA, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). UNFPA was the lead UN Agency with the responsibility of spearheading and coordinating resource mobilisation and technical support.
Statistics are a vital tool for economic and social development. Reliable and timely data can help Zimbabwe in the formulation of development policies and programmes.
“The 2017 ICDS results could not have come at a better time than now when there are a number of national development processes which require updated data, such as the preparation of the successor programme to the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET), mid-term review of the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) for the period 2016-2020, annual review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the joint assessments in line with the country’s re-engagement thrust with the international community,” remarked UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia.
The results confirm recent findings from the 2012 census thematic analysis and the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey, which show that while fertility has generally been declining in Zimbabwe, with an implied decline of about 1, 8 births during the 30-year inter-census period of 1982-2012, fertility has remained high at around four children per woman among adolescent women beyond 35 years of age. This highlights the need to address increasing adolescent fertility through adolescent sexual and reproductive health interventions. This also calls for increased availability of family planning information and services for women beyond 35 years of age to empower them to pan their families.
The ICDs findings also show that trends and levels of mortality in Zimbabwe have been significantly influenced by HIV and AIDS condition. Zimbabwe’s population was estimated at 13, 6 million persons in 2017, which means that the population growth rate has remained at an average of 1, 1 per cent per annum since 1992. The period 1992 to 2002 saw the prevalence of HIV accelerated wigh Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) availability being low adoption of ART, mortality indicators improved significantly. Infant mortality (age 1 and below) which had declined from 67 deaths per 1, 000 children in 2002 to 64 deaths in 2012, further declined to 52 deaths in 2017.
“In preparing the ICDS Report, ZIMSTAT seeks to put at the disposal of users detailed data which will assist in evidence-based policy formulation and administration, research, overall development planning as well as monitoring of SDGs,” said ZIMSTAT Director-General, Mr. Mutasa Dzinotizei.
Most indicators on living conditions have improved since 2012. For example, access to electricity increased from 40 percent in 2012 to 48 percent in 2017, and ownership of housing units also increased from 59 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2017 with urban area housing ownership increasing from 30 to 37 percent. However, there has been a slight deterioration in environmental sustainability where the proportion of households, which use wood for cooking increased from 63 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2017.
The maternal mortality ratio which had improved by 50% during the inter census period 2002-2012, seems to have stalled at 525 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births, indicating high risk of giving birth in Zimbabwe.
The results also show that Zimbabwe’s demographic transition, which could be turned into a ‘demographic dividend”, has been very slow. The population aged 15-64 years remained at 55 percent in 2017 as it was in 2012. East Asian countries, which have benefitted from the demographic dividend had over 65 percent of their population being in working age group of 15-64. This shows that such a monumental shift in a country’s demographic structure does not happen spontaneously hence Zimbabwe needs to deliberately adopt policies to achieve it.
“The question is whether this demographic transition will be sustained into the future and whether the country will develop the needed measures to transform the unprecedented number of youths into assets,” posed UNFPA Zimbabwe Country Representative Dr. Muia during the launch.