Arusha has been picked to host the Fifth African Population Conference scheduled to be held late this year.
The meeting is being held against the backdrop of the burden of hunger, malaria, HIV/AIDS that is slowing development in the continent.
Prominent researchers, policy makers, program managers, international development partners, and other key stakeholders from different African countries are expected to attend the meeting.
'Hunger and widespread poverty are serious challenges facing Africa,' said the Tanzanian Vice-President, Dr. Ali Shein Mohamed, when opening a preparatory forum in Dar es Salaam for the forthcoming meeting.
Tanzania HIV/AIDS indicators survey conducted between 2003 and 2004, shows that 7 per cent of the adults aged 15 to 49 years, on the mainland, were infected with HIV.
Infection rate among women, according to the latest statistics, is higher, standing at 8 per cent compared to men, 6 per cent.
He described rapid urbanization as another development challenge derailing fast economic growth in African countries.
The problem led to the creation of a segment of urban poor, living in informal settlements that lack basic amenities. Emerging evidence shows that the urban poor face health, economic, and social disadvantage compared to other sub-groups.
In Tanzania, population living in urban areas increased from 5 per cent in 1967 to 13 per cent in 1978, and from 21 per cent in 1988 to 27 per cent in 2002.
The vice president has also launched the 2006 country’s population policy to direct development of other policies, strategies and programs to enhance development sustainability and reduce poverty.
The policy, which has been revised, also targets to increase and improve availability and accessibility of high quality social services, attainment of gender equity, equality, women empowerment, social justice and development for all, and harmonious interrelationships between population, resource utilisation and the environment.
The Tanzanian government is setting policy directions that will support economic development and a culture of fairness and justice. This is another step towards better governance.