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Who is behind Uganda's swelling population?

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th July 2012 01:59 PM

Harriet Namukose, a resident of Kamuli district and a mother of six, is precisely the kind of person the Government family planning programmes are intended to help.

Who is behind Uganda's swelling population?

Harriet Namukose, a resident of Kamuli district and a mother of six, is precisely the kind of person the Government family planning programmes are intended to help.

By Gerald Tenywa

Harriet Namukose, a resident of Kamuli district and a mother of six, is precisely the kind of person the Government family planning programmes are intended to help.

She has less than a quarter an acre of land to grow food to feed her children, but she is not about to stop giving birth.

Namukose says women who spend two years without producing children are frequently battered by their husbands and sometimes they are sent back to their parents’ homes.

Namukose is not ready to face the wrath of her husband so she has not yet embraced family planning.

“Women in this village give birth every year. It is part of life and women who take two years without producing a child are considered barren,” says Namukose. She added: “I would like to use contraceptives, but my husband will not listen.

“If I take on family planning, he will beat me and throw me out. I do not want to lose my man to another woman.”

Namukose was speaking during a discussion at Bukaaya, Butadiba in Kisozi sub-county. The discussion focussed on a situation where the population appears to be bigger than the land can support. This was part of the national activities organised to commemorate the UN World Desertification Day.

Her testimony typifies the thousands of women in Kamuli and the whole country who need family planning.

In a survey conducted by New Vision in the villages of two sub-counties of Kisozi and Mbulamuti, it was revealed that villages are becoming overcrowded and there are many girls in their early teens who are pregnant.

Kamuli men speak

Sulaiman Takunga, a family planning promoter, who is also the LC2 chairperson for Bukaya-Butadiba, says the men insist on having many children because they believe the more children one has, the bigger the clan.

He also pointed out that some men, including leaders, do not want anything to do with family planning.

Other men interviewed by the New Vision accused women of using contraceptives secretly and only telling their husbands when their plan backfires. They also say most of the contraceptives have side effects like bleeding and that in some cases, women lose weight, becoming unattractive.

In view of the high infant and child maternal rates, Rashid Mpasa, a resident of Mbulamuti finds it reasonable to have many children so that some can survive and pass over his name to the next generation. Others say children will look after them in old age.

Uganda and MDGs

Uganda’s population is growing at 3.2% and an estimated 1.6 million babies were added to Uganda’s population this year. Anthony Bugembe, a National programme officer at the Uganda Population Secretariat, says this is an opportunity if the population has access to quality education and good health care.

Everyday, according to Bugembe, 16 women die, while giving birth. This is one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Africa.

The country has developed a reproductive health strategy to reduce maternal mortality. The strategy is also aimed at meeting Millennium Development Goal target 5, reducing maternal death by three quarters by 2015.

Birth control not enough

Despite national family planning programmes, fertility rates are still high. While the country’s fertility rate is estimated at 6.7 children, one of the highest in the world, in most villages of Kamuli, the fertility rate is as high as 10.

Given the right conditions and policies, the country can support more people by reducing vulnerability of people living in absolute poverty, creating alternative livelihoods and causing a shift from over-dependency on agriculture.

Who is behind Uganda''s swelling population?

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