India gets UNFPA aid worth $75 M
Tuesday, 19 November 2002, 08:00 Hrs
NEW DELHI: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has committed aid worth $75 million to India to support population and reproductive health programmes for a five-year period beginning January 2003. UNFPA executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, who also holds the rank of under-secretary general of U.N., announced this during her first one-day India visit Saturday. "We look forward to working with NGOs more closely at the grassroots level to improve India's reproductive health. Fifteen percent of the $75 million aid to India will be given to NGOs," Obaid said. However, the aid this time is less than the $100 million for the last five-year cycle. UNFPA's core aid this time is $60 million, as against $75 million in the last cycle, said U.N. sources. They informed that the fall in aid is due to an overall shortage of funds with UNFPA. A key objective of the aid is to build capacity and improve the quality and accessibility of reproductive and health services in the country, said Francois M. Farah, UNFPA's India representative. He added that the reproductive health information and service needs of adolescents would be addressed by UNFPA along with the government and NGOs active in education, health, youth and women's empowerment. "The challenges of HIV/AIDS will be addressed by providing information and preventive services like the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases." The programme will facilitate dialogue on key issues facing policymakers in India today such as a decline in sex ratios and the need to maintain family planning that responds to the needs of individuals respecting their reproductive rights. Obaid said: "India has shown the right moves by implementing its national and state population programmes." "There is a clear link between population and the level of economic empowerment among the masses. These two also depend on the level of reproductive health services being made available to them." "If some countries have successfully moved out of their basic poverty levels, it is because they have made the reproductive health services available to their masses." She argued that India should have more district specific, decentralised approach to its population programme. "You cannot preach population programme without giving a service to help the people. And what actually counts is at the grassroots. NGOs have already done a lot of work here. We are looking at working closer now." UNFPA's first India assistance programme began in 1974 with an allocation of $46 million. The aid programme this year coincides with India's 10th Five Year Plan, which started in April this year.