After reading this article with the heading “Uganda to produce 1.2 million babies by the end of 2011” in the New Vision, link http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/18687-Uganda-to-produce-1-2-million-babi… , I thought I had to write a comment inspired by an article on this subject on this site, a while ago. Maybe it’ll be published, may be not. Those are numbers I’m personally not proud of. So this was the comment I posted: It should be a matter of plain common sense that with limited income, the fewer mouths to feed per family, the better the standard of living. Having 2, 3 children instead of 6, 7, 8 or 10 if you earn the equivalent of $100 or even $500/ month, which most parents DON’T, means you eat better, you are more likely to have a few more shillings left for clothing & can give your kids a better education & not only to P7, but much higher enabling them to better manage living in a fast changing modern world!! In developed countries, the number of children/ family has been drastically reduced to between 1 – 3 over the last couple of decades. These numbers are much more manageable, moreover these countries have many times higher incomes than most our developing countries.
Politicians should act responsibly & stop propagating cheap & populist myths like the one that a bigger population provides a bigger market. Uganda, ALREADY has an army of youths under 20 years, that have been born in the last 20 (!!!) years the population has doubled who will need education & jobs. The economy in the last 20 years has grown by international standards quite impressively, but this is hardly felt, because any gains are destroyed by the disastrously high population growth rate, of well over 3.0%, one of the very highest in the world. There is no way the economy is going to grow to absorb all these people, especially knowing we are coming from very far behind. We are not a developed economy yet. That means there will always be problem of unemployment, which can provide fertile ground for bad activities & general dissatisfaction.
Instead, the government should guide & sensitize people, not only in rural areas on the advantages & virtues of having families of manageable sizes, like the government of Rwanda is ALREADY DOING, which suggests having about 3 or so kids and also provides family planning programs. The government there is aware of the limited land & other resources they have. By the way, some of the countries with the highest standards of living in the world have small populations … Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, countries with much fewer natural resources than many of our countries. You cannot fail to get a market if you produce competitive goods & services. It’s said in the early/mid 60s a country like Singapore & South Korea were economically at a similar level with many African countries. What a difference now! Why? Wrong priorities in many areas on this side. One of the things people in those countries did right was to manage living on the few resources they have & getting the most out of them.
A key example why population growth should urgently be addressed at the highest government level, can be seen very well illustrated in areas of Bugisu. It has LIMITED resources, including land & with a very high population density. The land in many areas over there is saturated with settlements. Most places, even those which should not be settled in have all forests & other natural vegetation being cut down for cultivation, housing, firewood & so on. The few coffee shrubs & beans plants leave the land exposed leading to soil erosion & the landslides, whose frequency has considerably increased with disastrous & fatal consequences. This is something one learns at school, but which people & especially those in authority do not seem to remember in real life. It is quite astonishing when you keep hearing politicians blaming all this on El Nino or other extreme weather conditions. The landslides & other related problems are largely man-made Those areas of Bugisu are not the only ones affected, because the high population growth, estimated in some statistics to be around 7.2 kids/woman is nationwide. All these studies & nice words & how precious a resource population is, if it does not include practical & immediate ways to reduce the growth rate become a major part of the problem. I read a report in the N.V. a few years ago where a mayor of some big town was saying people should give birth to as many kids as possible. Some people even claim anything to do with family planning is a ploy by the west to keep Africa down.
Which highly populated African countries can one point out that have a high standard of living? Nigeria with its (is it) 150m? Ethiopia? Egypt? Their huge markets do not seem to be working wonders. And elsewhere? Pakistan, Bangladesh? They have very high population. In Europe, most of the countries there have much smaller populations & are way ahead. They have no problem with markets and their economies CAN support the population they have!!! We do not need more catastrophes before the government wakes up to take effective measures. It should as said get involved at the highest level & make it a priority and approach the issue like they originally did in the case of AIDS in the early 90s, which was, at least then very successful, being not only admired but copied by many countries around the world. The media, including the newspapers & the radio stations can play major role in this by educating the masses on these issues. This in my understanding, since it would directly & positively affect the standard of living of many folks & the conservation of nature is much more useful & constructive than some of the talk shows on some much less important issues.
It would make a very big difference if instead of the 1.2 million babies expected to be born by end of 2011, if they were 600,000 instead & if that baby was baby no. 2 or 3 and NOT baby no. 6, 7 or 9 for some mothers. Sex was a taboo subject those days, but to deal with AIDS, it had to be tackle head-on in many public forums & with practical measures like talking about “zero-grazing”, a term borrowed from animal farming (using a layman’s language to encourage keeping to one sexual partner) & making it easier to get condoms and so on. The same degree of openness & urgency is needed to deal with this. Only then will we see the country Winston Churchill once described as “truly the pearl of Africa” making visible strides in development, across the whole population & its beauty not being destroyed, but preserved. Inspiring articles: http://www.orbituganda.com/few-thoughts-last-months-poll-question-uganda… & http://www.orbituganda.com/uganda-has-one-highest-population-growth-rate…