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High population growth undermines Uganda's development

Source:  Copyright 2008, Africa Science News Service
Date:  August 26, 2008
Byline:  Pius Sawa
Original URL: Status DEAD

High population growth undermines Uganda's development Written by Pius Sawa Tuesday, 26 August 2008

High fertility and population growth rate undermining Uganda's natural resources and challenging nationalDevelopment.

Uganda's national development is being undermined by high food prices, climate change, forest denudation,land degradation, water shortage, declining oil supplies, species extinction and destruction of ecosystems.

The root of these problems is the ruthless exploitation of Uganda's resources in terms of charcoal burning, over cultivation on the small plots of land, over fishing, misuse of wetlands by the increasing population.

"Simply put, sustainable development is that development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs," Dr Olive Sentumbwe Mugisa, Population and Health Advisor, WHO in Uganda said.

According to Dr Sentumbwe, the destruction of forests by the growing population show that globally, some three billion hectares of the world's original forest cover, or nearly 50 percent, has been lost.

Yet forests are critical for sustainable ecosystem---they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.Dr Sentumbwe says affluence leads to over-consumption while poverty leads to direct dependency on natural resources and poor methods of agriculture which impact negatively on sustainable development.

She says most affluent people use more fresh water per capita for washing and waste disposal in water borne toilets which end up untreated and contaminate fresh water bodies while for the less affluent, the failure to use latrines contaminates water and use of latrines dug deep to the water table still contaminates the ground water sources.

In an effort to improve the livelihoods of people, governments are opting for industrialisation. However many of these industries are not environmentally friendly despite environmental impact assessment policies.

Big families that result from high fertility increase the economic and emotional burden of parenthood.High fertility and therefore rapidly growing populations cause excessive pressure on economic, social and natural resources.

High fertility and high population growth can have negative effects on the health and well being of women children, families and communities, and is a key factor in poverty enhancement.

Uganda's population is projected to double in the next 21 years, when the world population will double after 54 years.

This puts Uganda's population growth among the highest in the Africa, and unless measures are put in place to check it, sustainable development will be undermined.Uganda's total fertility rate of 6.7 is among the highest in Africa, putting the population growth rate at 3.4 percent, with no decline over the last 20-30 years.

Dr Sentumbwe says while Uganda's population is doubling at a fast rate; her economic growth is not doubling or even improving at the same rate."It can therefore be inferred that we are exceeding the carrying capacity of the country we live in therefore suffering the effects of overpopulation."'Uncontrolled fertility can decrease women's status and quality of life. Access to contraceptives allows women to decide the number and spacing of their children," says Dr Sentumbwe.

She goes on to say that the relationship between contraception and women's status is a dynamic one, and improving women's educational and economic opportunities can also have an important impact on the acceptability and use of contraception.

High fertility and high population have several challenges for sustainable development and opportunities can only be realized if there is significant investment in social services, which can lead to populations, which can afford to purchase industrial products and participate in sustainable development.

'Otherwise unsustainable patterns of consumption are depleting natural resources and causing environmental degradation thus increasing social inequity and poverty not sustainable development," asserts Dr Sentumbwe.

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