BY RAYMOND BAGUMA
UGANDAâ€™S population is soon clocking 33 million people and the country will hit over 90 million people in the next 40 years.
The 2009 State of the World Population report by the United Nations Population Fund shows that the countryâ€™s population is now 32.7 million. This is an increase from 31.9 million people in 2008.
The report is set to be launched today at a function at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.
It indicates that Ugandaâ€™s population growth rate is currently at 3.3%, a rise from 3.2% last year. This places Uganda among the top five fastest growing countries in terms of population worldwide.
Ugandaâ€™s fertility rate has slightly fallen from 6.4 children per woman in 2008 to 6.2 children this year. Nevertheless, it is still among the top five in the world, coming after failed states like Somalia, Afghanistan and East-Timor.
A comparison also shows that Ugandaâ€™s Gross National Income has improved from $880 last year to $1,040 this year. It comes third in the East African Community after Tanzania ($1,200) and Kenya ($1,550).
Another highlight is that Ugandaâ€™s life expectancy for men has improved from 51 to 52.8 years while women are now expected to live to 54.1, compared to 52.5 last year.
At the current growth rate, Ugandaâ€™s population will be over 91 million by 2050. It will surpass Kenyaâ€™s, which is currently at 40 million and is expected to be 85 million by 2050.
Regionally, Ugandaâ€™s population growth is higher than the eastern African average which stands at 2.6 %. In the use of contraception for birth control, Uganda scores below the eastern Africa average. Less than a quarter of all Ugandan women use contraceptives.
The report notes that family planning and gender issues could influence the future course of climate change and affect how people adapt to rising seas, worsening storms and severe droughts.
â€œSlower population growth would help build social resilience to the effects of climate change and would contribute to a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions in the future,â€ it says.
The temperature of the earthâ€™s surface has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years, sufficient to disrupt many of the planetâ€™s ecosystems and pose significant risk to humans, the report notes.
â€œIf recent trends continue, the earthâ€™s temperature may rise another four to six degrees by 2100, with likely catastrophic effect on the environment, habitats, economies and people.â€
Climate change, the report warns, has the potential to reverse the hard-earned developments of the past decades.
Setbacks are likely to result from water scarcity, intense tropical storms, floods, loss of water for irrigated agriculture, changes in food availability and possible health crises.
Also, large-scale migrations will intensify as people abandon flooded or drought-stricken areas. This could lead to health problems and civil strife. The report predicts that millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas will need to leave their homes if sea levels rise.
The influence of human activity on climate change is not only about consumption patterns but also about numbers, the UN agency notes, adding that the world population is approaching seven billion.
â€œAs the growth of economies, population and consumption outpaces the earthâ€™s capacity to adjust, climate change could become more extreme.â€
It notes that developing countries have been responsible for a smaller share of greenhousegas emissions, yet they are shouldering more of the burden for coping with extreme weather conditions.
Nevertheless, the UN agency recommends slower population growth in both developed and developing countries to ease the task of bringing global emissions into balance with the atmosphere.
The challenge that will preoccupy the next generations, the report concludes, is to prosper while keeping human activities from sending the climate beyond human habitability.