Wednesday, October 02, 2019

People - Blessing or a Curse?

Nigeria, which is currently Africa's most populous country, will then have 400 million inhabitants, and become the third most populous in the world. 

Africa is currently experiencing a population increase. Over the next 30 years, the number of people on the continent is expected to double from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion. In Nigeria more than 60 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day. The unemployment rate stands at 23 percent. Violent disputes over water and land between farmers and nomad shepherds are on the increase. Isma'il Awal of the Center for transparency and Anti-Corruption Advocacy pointed out: "We have more than 600 churches and almost 40,000 mosques in Kano State but only 50 functioning industries." 

The future of the youth in Nigeria's north is under threat as they are exposed to rising levels of unemployment and a struggle for resources. Many are already part of the rural exodus to megacities, risk their lives on the treacherous journey to Europe or are recruited by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram.

On average, a Nigerian woman gives birth to 5.5 children. In the conservative, Muslim-majority north, the number goes up to eight children. This is clearly more than most women want, let alone can afford. "Women in Northern Nigeria don't have a say in child spacing. They need a signed letter from their husband to get a consultation on family planning at the hospital," said Aisha Tofa, the founder of the organizsation Start Up in Kano. Family planning methods such as contraception and child spacing further undermined by the prevalence of polygamy, child marriage, teen pregnancy, poor education. Children are still often seen as a status symbol and a retirement plan.

Experts see many reasons why the population boom in Nigeria is going unchecked. But a lack of political will and poor policy implementation are uppermost on the list.

Every human born may well be an extra mouth to feed but also another pair of helping hands and an additional thoughtful brain. We need no more misanthropic pronouncements about too many people or that humanity has exceeded carrying capacity or that humanity is an alien species to the Planet Earth’s ecology.

The fertility rate is dropping, the rate of population rise is falling and family sizes are reducing.

Even though it might sound counterintuitive, for stabilising and lowering the population forget all about population policies and instead simply help each and every woman bear a child in good health, whenever she herself chooses to have a baby.

Ending population growth starts by saving the children of the poorest women. Giving women control of both their lives and their bodies is what will control population growth. The best family planning and contraceptive is the empowerment of women.

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