BusinessDay

Controlling rising population is a necessity

“To save the world, to protect our tomorrow, we have to control the population today.” — Unknown

On November 15, 2022, the global population reached 8 billion, according to estimates from the United Nations (UN). The UN as an international body even suggested that a surge in births in LDCs is likely to create risks. What are these risks? Depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation, rising unemployment, high cost of living, water shortage, malnutrition, starvation and hunger are some of the risks associated with overpopulation, according to experts.

Bearing in mind many risks associated with overpopulation, it’s unbelievable that the world’s population continue to rise at such a scary rate. Overpopulation gives an impression that all efforts and commitments to control the world’s population by political leadership globally have not yielded any meaningful result.

Most people in the world do not want to speak of overpopulation either because of religious or cultural beliefs. Or, a combination of both factors. Some public intellectuals have strongly argued that overpopulation is a failure of policy in any country. And I add with deep sense of responsibility that overpopulation is an overwhelming failure of both policy and strategy.

Some public intellectuals have strongly argued that overpopulation is a failure of policy in any country. And I add with deep sense of responsibility that overpopulation is an overwhelming failure of both policy and strategy

Nigeria’s rate of child marriage, we learnt is about the highest in the African continent. Something is fundamentally wrong when there is a prevalence of child marriage in a country without any laws to prevent it, but the same country plans to provide access to family planning and counseling to underage children that are married.

What is wrong in this writer’s view is that as the country is closing a door to overpopulation, it is cleverly opening many other doors to overpopulation. That is the way things work in many Less Developed Countries (LDCs), particularly in Africa.

According to the UN projections, sub-Saharan Africa’s population will nearly double to more than 2 billion by mid-century. The region is growing three times faster than the global average and by 2070, it will become the most populous place globally, surpassing Asia.

Africa has the youngest population in the world, which experts suggest could be a boom for the continent, or worsen poverty, depending how countries leverage this age group for economic growth. For African nations to have economic growth, most children particularly females must go to school. When children attend compulsory secondary education, it will reduce population over time.

Much of the world’s population growth, however, has come in the last century as better living standards and health advancement extended life expectancy with the total number of people on earth growing from just 2 billion in 1927 to 6 billion in 1998. What does overpopulation mean for the next few decades?

The UN forecasts that much of the worlds future population growth will be concentrated in low-income countries with just eight accounting for the majority of a projected increase until 2050. The bulk of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa. Countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and emerging countries in Asia like India, Pakistan and the Philippines are also included in the overpopulation network.

This definitely will create a challenge for above stated countries and others which suffer from relatively low income per capita. With more young people likely to put a further strain on limited resources like education, healthcare and transportation among other infrastructural facilities.

Experts have theorized that democracy cannot survive with population explosion. Equally, human dignity and decency cannot survive overpopulation. As we put more people into the world without understanding the implications of our choice, the value and quality of life are not only in decline, but will disappear with time.

It has been observed by experts that there are fewer babies in rich countries. The slowdown is in large part driven by the costly burden of raising a child. These are countries particularly in Europe, that are facing population decline because enough babies are not born to replace the elderly.

When the family is small, it’s easy to manage. There is peace because whatever the family has, they are able to share. On the other hand, overpopulation has hardly been conducive to furthering peace among peoples on our planet with its limited space. Things are likely to go wrong in countries with overpopulation.

Growing population in the midst of rising poverty constitutes a permanent menace to peace. Overpopulation also, strains democratic institutions and increase pressure on services. Why, you may ask? Many more people means increased demand for food, water, housing, healthcare, transportation and others.

The effect of Nigeria’s rapid population growth is evident. A report was recently released by the NBS that the number of poor people in Nigeria has risen to 133 million in 2022. This has serious implications for development.

With about 45 million people at independence in 1960, Nigeria now has a population estimated at about 216 million in 2022 according to statistics from the UN. This makes Nigeria the sixth most populous country in the world. And it is projected that the population will grow between 2 percent and 3 percent a year until 2050 according to the UN figures. One may therefore ask, what is the level of Nigeria’s resources to cater to the needs of its citizens?

The UN cites rapid population growth as a cause and consequence of slow progress in development. For instance, Lagos is already a mega city with a population of about 25 million people. Nigerians from all parts of the country come to Lagos daily. There are equally those who leave Lagos daily because of many reasons.

Any day in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, is a busy day. Rush hour throws the “Center of Excellence” into a frenzy. It is noise galore on a daily basis starting from 0500 hours. Buses spill over with commuters at the intercity stops and crowd fill the streets of Lagos which is already carrying a mega city status.

Lagos typifies a mega city growing three times faster than the global average, drawn along a line of vendors, under canopies and modified seaport containers bunched up side by side, selling clothes, fruits, vegetables, mobile phone recharge cards, used shoes and grilled chicken among other items. You can also see many children, as well as young men and women hawking goods on many of the streets.

In some parts of Lagos, the sound of blaring horns and sellers’ cries fill the air, drowned out by loudspeakers with local council development authority workers prohibiting vendors from peddling their wares on the roadside. Traffic is heavy most times with Keke Marwa struggling with motorcycle Okada riders and motorists. Come and see confusion on the streets of Lagos particularly on Mondays.

Read also: World population hits eight billion – UN

Oshodi, Jankara, Ikotun, and Tejuoso markets, amongst others, are hotspots for small traders in Lagos. But even as they reap the benefits of the crowd of commuters passing through the neighbourhood each day, a few traders say these areas are facing growing congestion, rising petty crimes and increased environmental wastes. The situation is just slightly better in most urban cities in Nigeria.

Overpopulation is a root problem of all environmental issues. If we can control overpopulation, we can control almost everything, according to some experts. Even so the UN warns that population growth has contributed significantly to environmental damage, while driving global warming and deforestation. The problem of the growing food shortage cannot be solved without a concerted effort by all to moderate population growth.

Flowing from the above quote, the more people we have, the more food we need. But there is currently food shortage with double-digit food inflation of 23.72 percent in October 2022, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). We need to control our population if our tomorrow is to be guaranteed. With overpopulation, more space would be occupied and the resources may not adequately go round 216 million people.

Overpopulation breeds hunger, poverty, unemployment, poor health, insecurity, illiteracy, etcetera. This is a common feature in Third World countries. We need more development so that jobs can be provided for those who are unemployed in our society. The question we need to ask ourselves as Nigerians on rising population figures is: Who is going to lead the advocacy for self-restraint in the number of children brought to the world? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, the government must show commitment about empowering young women through education and skills acquisition, and be serious about promoting family planning. Thank you.

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