By Dennis Muhumuza
When God created human beings, He commanded them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). No one could have estimated the number of people He had in mind, but now with the world population at a staggering 7.7 billion people according to UN estimates, we are literally bursting at the seams and something drastic has to be done to keep the numbers manageable. For over 200,000 years, less than a billion people inhabited planet earth, but in the 20th century alone, the world’s population has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion people, which makes it appear like human beings spend a bulk of their time making babies! Leading in this field is Asia which is the most populous continent with 4.54 billion people accounting for 60% of the world population while close on their heels is Africa with about 1.28 billion inhabitants which translates to 16% of the world’s population.
Specifically, China and India lead as the world’s most populated nations with over one billion people each, while in Africa, Nigeria is leading with over 200 million people, followed by Egypt and DR Congo. The population of Uganda is equally mind-blowing considering that for a nation so small, landlocked and one of the poorest in the world, we are, as of June 2019, slightly over 45 million people according to UN estimates. All these projections are bound to double, with the UN estimating that by the end of this century, the world will be inhabited by more than 15 billion people.This is, quite frankly, worrying because it will have a strain on the world’s resources to the extent that we may be compelled as a people to behave like the animals in the jungle where only the fittest survive.
Consider the case of Uganda. It is because of overpopulation and high rates of unemployment or underemployment that the crime rate is rising both in urban and rural areas. As desperate situations call for desperate measures, it wouldn’t be farfetched to argue that unless something is done to contain the situation, we may, like wolves, begin to devour each other in a bid for survival. Yet I cannot afford to sound alarmist and talk like a prophet of doom. The omnipotent and omniscient God still reigns and levels the ground. It is therefore inconceivable that the world can be filled with so many people that there will be no more breathing space.
For the case of Uganda which is the main case study of this article, optimistic analysts posit that it is a good thing to keep producing rather than turn to contraceptives. The reason being that more numbers would translate to more workforce, thus, more productivity and economic growth. Then again, when you consider that for huge numbers to be a formidable workforce, they need good formal and informal education, good feeding and good shelter right from childhood to when they are ready to join the workforce, you realize it’s nearly impossible in a country where the narrative of teenage pregnancies and teenage mothers is becoming acceptable. This basically means young people are producing children they are incapable of providing for adequately.
Moreover, Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates in the world with our women producing an average of 6 children each. The optimists insist that it is good because with many dying along the way because of poor living conditions, and with the country’s life expectancy at only 58.5 years, it helps to produce more so that for every person who falls in the grave, there’s another who lives. It makes death the great balancing act!
Perhaps, of critical importance is that Uganda has the second youngest population in the world with 78 per cent of its people below the age of 35; and the population is expected to more than double in the next 25 years. Most of these young people prefer to dwell in the cities and urban areas, which partly explains why Kampala is the most populous place in Uganda inhabited by 1,659,600 people followed by Gulu, with 146,858. It goes without saying that such a young demographic means vigor, strength, power and enterprise if well channeled. But if not, it can be dangerous because frustrations over unemployment will give tangible meaning to the common expression that “the idle mind is the workshop of the devil” whereby many will turn to crime in a bid to survive.
Already, there’s disgruntlement among sections of the people that President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for a long time and has outlived his welcome. The feeling is that people from western Uganda from where the president hails, have been favoured for over three decades at the expense of those from other regions of the country. And the ethnic diversity of the nation which is supposed to be an advantage could boomerang with failure to control population growth sparking whereby tribal and religious divisions could emerge. We may not reach this detrimental stage as the country continues to promote birth-control measures and reduce fertility rates in a bid to fulfill Vision 2040 which is fundamentally about transforming the Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country by the year 2040.
With only 20 years to go, it’s important that Uganda’s exploding youthful population be prudently managed with practical and skill-based education so that they can easily be absorbed into the production sector to become productive and responsible citizens for the greater good of this country and the world at large.
Thankfully, population growth experts predict that after 2020, Uganda’s population growth will start slowing down to manageable numbers, and the fruitfulness God requires of us in Genesis 1:28 will become a sustainable reality.
Apr 11, 2019 0By Venasio Ahabwe Mr. Naperi, a company chief executive,...
Jul 15, 2019 0In the wake of terrible conditions of negligence and abuse reported at some U.S. hospice facilities, several Catholic doctors are emphasizing the need for Christians to embrace a ministry of aiding hospice patients and...
Jul 15, 2019 0On an island in Rome’s Tiber River, there is a basilica devoted to the Christian martyrs of the 20th century, the bloodiest century in the history of the Catholic Church. Flanked on either side by relics of Christians...
Jul 15, 2019 0Helping a person in need requires compassion toward their situation, Pope Francis said Sunday, encouraging Catholics to think first about their own hardness of heart, not the sins of others. “If you go down the street...