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A big population could foil Bona Bagaggawale

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th April 2010 03:00 AM

THE United Nations ranks Uganda 10th in Total Fertility Rate worldwide. This means an average Ugandan woman will give birth to at least seven children in her lifetime.

THE United Nations ranks Uganda 10th in Total Fertility Rate worldwide. This means an average Ugandan woman will give birth to at least seven children in her lifetime.

By Joe Nam

THE United Nations ranks Uganda 10th in Total Fertility Rate worldwide. This means an average Ugandan woman will give birth to at least seven children in her lifetime.

While countries with low fertility rates such as Singapore and South Korea would envy Uganda’s fertility rate, due to their aging population, Uganda is being asked by demographic experts and economists to reduce women’s fertility in order to boost economic growth.

The 4th Uganda Governance Forum hosted by the National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently assembled authorities and experts in economic growth to discuss Uganda’s high population growth rate.

Causes of High Fertility

The main reason given for Uganda’s high fertility rate is uneven economic growth in favour of urban areas. Also the uneven empowerment of urban women compared to women in the rural areas.

The highest fertility rate in Uganda occurs among rural women who produce as many as 11 children, while their urban counterparts produce at most five children. Also related to this is the inaccessibility of family planning services to many women, especially in the rural areas.

According to UNFPA, about 41% of Ugandan women have an unmet need for family planning
The long civil wars in Uganda and the aspiration to have social security in children are the other factors said to be driving couples to have many children. Equally, the tendency for early pregnancy among teenage girls has greatly contributed to our population growth.

Uganda’s population which is currently 33 million, is projected to swell to 40 million by 2015, and about 50 million by 2020.

Experts say this population explosion is not sustainable because the Government does not have enough resources and infrastructure to provide adequate shelter, education and health services.

Managing fertility

The experiences of prosperous and poor countries alike, show that lower fertility leads to sustained economic growth and high fertility rates to impoverishment. Going by this logic, Uganda can only develop into a prosperous middle income country by reducing the fertility rate and spurring economic growth.

Uganda’s desire to become a prosperous middle income country by 2025 and beyond, as is being envisaged in the Bona Bagaggawale campaign (prosperity for all programme) can only, happen with significant reduction in fertility rates and policies geared toward rapid economic growth. The single most lacking instrument in the reduction and management of fertility rate, policy makers say, is the lack of political will to tackle the subject head on.

In fact, many politicians, oblivious of the power of the word, have made it a pass time to encourage couples to have more children, which contradicts and renders null and void investments in public information, education and communication of good family models, by the health ministry and development partners.

Simple measures such as availing family planning services to every woman, using affirmative action to retain girls in schools longer, economic empowerment of rural women through microfinance savings and credit schemes could assist in containing population growth.

Other measures for controlling population growth include: extending infrastructure development, providing services to the rural people and creating jobs.

The writer is a journalist

A big population could foil Bona Bagaggawale

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