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Monday,October 26,2020 13:39 PM

High population a strategic resource

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th May 2005 03:00 AM

GOVERNMENT released the 2002 Population and Housing Census giving us data on population size and composition, population characteristics as well as population trends.

GOVERNMENT released the 2002 Population and Housing Census giving us data on population size and composition, population characteristics as well as population trends.

Emmanuel Bukabeeba

GOVERNMENT released the 2002 Population and Housing Census giving us data on population size and composition, population characteristics as well as population trends.

The reported total population of 24.4 million (2002) is projected using a growth rate of 3.3% to become 26.9 million (2005), 44.0 million (2020) and 118.3 million (2020). So what?
Some people have attributed every ill in our society to high population growth rate.

Dr Nuwagaba (New Vision, May 12) and Helmut Rahlmann (New Vision, May 16) are bold enough to ascribe unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, violence, deforestation, critical ecosystem damage, debt burden and political unrest, etc to the high population growth.

Many prescriptions have been advanced as an attempt to reduce this population growth in order to achieve sustainable development and high quality of life; to eliminate poverty, illiteracy and high mortality rate; to achieve the honoured Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

However, this kind of reasoning treats population only as a liability and considers development as an end in itself. Yet lack of optimal population is one of the strategic bottlenecks that negatively affect the process of state formation, innovativeness of African peoples and the ability to resist colonialism.

For this reason the Government should exploit the present demographic gift for the benefit of this country. I challenge the Government to lead the debate on Uganda’s population growth and the opportunities this growth avails to this country.

Populations being a strategic resource, the Government must tell us its strategic plan for Uganda to have a prosperous population for sustainable development. This is a very important area the Government should not remain silent about.

Development in the 21st century is based on intelligence rather than on matter; on education and knowledge rather than sweat and blood. Natural resources (gold and oil included), raw materials and agricultural products cannot sustain development.

Uganda is a country where 97% of the population use firewood and charcoal for cooking — deforestation is inevitable. Helmut Rahlmann did not mention that it is the North that is primarily responsible for environmental destruction:

One fifth of the world’s population is consuming 58% of its energy and 65% of its electricity; petrol consumption averages 500kg oil equivalent per inhabitant per year in industrialised countries, six times the average consumption per inhabitant (43kg) in the developing countries.

Population growth, therefore, is not the cause of environmental destruction, as Rahlmann would have us believe. Uganda’s economic growth is 7%, where only 33.1% of females are paid or self-employed; a huge 63% of females are unpaid family workers; 68.1% of the population depends on subsistence farming with manufacturing employing only 2%.
Population growth is not the problem.

The problem is the structure of our economy. Instead of lamenting about high population growth, the Government must put in place policies and programmes that harness population as a strategic resource.

To meet the challenges of population growth, Government policies must be guided by five priorities:
  • Education for women
  • Empowerment of women

  • Promotion of scientific and technical development

  • A change in life style

  • New modes of production and consumption.

  • Education for women is the best means of controlling births and spacing pregnancies. In order to control demographic growth it is necessary:
  • To promote UPE

  • To provide five times the capitation grant to girls in secondary schools compared to boys.

  • To build laboratories in rural girls secondary schools

  • To build technical schools to train girls health personnel

  • To increase access to university education for girls

  • To increase opportunities for career development for girls.
    These are by far the most effective contraceptives.

  • It has been acknowledged the world over that efforts in the education of women make it possible to slow down population growth while at the same time improving the standard and quality of individual lives. Education remains the best investment for securing sustainable indigenous development.

    Government should change the National Planning Authority (NPA) with the responsibility of producing the country’s population strategic plan, placing women and an improved quality of life at the centre of our development.

    Such a population strategic plan should:
  • Give priority to the education of girls and women in public investment and increase women’s access to all levels of education.

  • Facilitate women’s access to positions of political responsibility and career development.

  • Ensure increased access for women to credit and the process of economic decision-making.

  • Offer women access to health and nutrition — provide special aid and assistance for motherhood and access to reproductive health services.

  • Prepare reports on the status of women and progress on Gender-related Development Index (GDI)
  • .

    The writer is an engineer and university secretary of Bishop Stuart University, Mbarara

    High population a strategic resource

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