Uganda had the second highest fertility rate and the fifth highest growth rate in the world in 2012. In only three years, three million Ugandans, many of who are unplanned, have been born into the country.
By Carol Natukunda
Uganda’s total population has grown to 37.5 million this year. This is up from 34.5 million in 2011.
By 2100, the population is expected to increase fivefold, pushing Uganda to the top 10 most populated nations in the world, according to the latest world population prospects by the United Nations Social and Economic Affairs Division in New York.
The gap between the number of males and females in Uganda is, however, bridging at 18.8 million and 18.7 million respectively.
The report also points out that the fertility rate of Ugandan women is at 5.9 children per woman, down from 6.7 in 2005. Uganda has the world’s second youngest population after Niger, the study notes.
Currently, the median age stands at 15.8, but it is projected to start rising again if there are no interventions to reduce the fertility rates.
The good news is that Ugandans are living longer than ever before. The life expectancy of Ugandans has gone up to 59 years, from 54.8 years in 2010. Also, the infant mortality rates have reduced significantly from 66.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 57 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.
This is a similar scenario for the babies who are under five years of age. The report shows that the infant mortality rate for children under five is at 86.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 102.1 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010.
The report was compiled to assess the progress made in achieving global targets, such as the Millennium Development Goals.
Experts speak out
Commenting on the findings of the report, development and reproductive health experts reiterated the need for the Government to step up efforts to control the high population.
Prof Augustus Nuwagaba, a senior development economist, says a young population will strain resources if the high fertility rates are not controlled.
Dr. Ibrahim Kasirye, a senior researcher at the Economic Policy Research Centre concurs: “The major implication of Uganda’s young population is an increasing dependency burden at the household level, with a related increase in demand for social services (education and health), which are not keeping pace with the growth.
For instance, classrooms in public primary schools remain congested due to growth in school populations,” he says.
Kasirye observes that the growth in the population is not driven by the desire for more children (which has declined in the past 15 years), but by the high rate of unwanted births.
Ministry of Health statistics show that three out of ten women in Uganda, who need to stop or space their next pregnancy, are not using any contraception. As a result, there are about 700,000 unplanned pregnancies in Uganda every year.
President Yoweri Museveni, at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, pledged to provide an additional $5m annually for reproductive health supplies.
According to Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, the Africa regional director, partners in population and development, Uganda needs a total of $20m annually for its contraception needs.
“Currently, Uganda is spending about $10m annually. The pledge that the President made at the London Summit on family planning will reduce the shortfall,” he says.
An official at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, however, castigated the Government for refusing to hold the census.
“How will you even plan for the population if we have not had census in over 10 years?” the source wondered. The 10-year census should have taken place in 2010, but it has been repeatedly postponed due to lack of funds.
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Uganda population at record 37 million