The population explosion we’re all ignoring
“Ladies, have you heard the news?” croons the singer to the women sitting beneath the tree in an isolated village in Benin. “You can take a pill every day.” The singer and his drummers have just disembarked from “the contraception boat”, said Geoffrey York in The Globe and Mail (Toronto). It is part of a nationwide contraception campaign to check Benin’s soaring population growth. Outside of Southern Africa and Kenya, less than 30% of women in Sub-saharan Africa use modern contraception. Many haven’t even heard of it. And now the entire programme is being put at risk, thanks to President Trump.
The US used to be the biggest donor to global family-planning schemes, said allafrica.com (Cape Town). But days after taking office, Trump ordered a halt to the $600m spend on familyplanning services overseas, saying any programme advocating abortion should have its funding removed. In April, he went a step further by withdrawing US support for the UN Population Fund. It’s a devastating blow to a continent that has to find a way to rein in runaway population growth, said Africa Times. com. The latest UN projection shows Africa’s population will at least double by 2050, and rise fourfold (to 4.4 billion) by the century’s end. By then, 40% of the world’s population will be African, said York, and the effects will be grave: “an escalating crisis in hunger, overcrowding, ecological damage, and rising migration pressures in Europe and North America”. Far from addressing the problem, Trump’s policy will aggravate it: analysts say it could lead to 6.5 million unintended pregnancies over the next four years alone.
For Nigeria, the coming baby boom is a disaster waiting to happen, said This Day (Lagos). Its population is expected to nearly double in just over 30 years and surpass that of the US. Nigeria will become the third-largest country in the world, after India and China. How can we feed and educate so many people, or guarantee access to sufficient clean water to prevent massive outbreaks of disease? Boko Haram and other extremist groups already press children into militias. Even more idle and illiterate children will mean bigger, nastier armed factions and a greater likelihood of conflict. It does not have to be this way, said Africatimes.com. If African girls got access to contraceptives and family-planning advice, it would create a virtuous circle. Africa could reap a “demographic dividend” – delayed pregnancy leading to better education and health for women, which would in turn fuel economic growth for everyone.