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Population growth challenges poor nations

Population growth challenges poor nations thumbnail

Almost 11 billion people will be living on Earth by 2100, according to a UN report. Poor countries will see the fastest growth in population and face new challenges in dealing with the increased number of inhabitants.

Humans already consume more than half of the world’s renewable resources. And pressure on natural resources will continue to increase as UN experts revised their forecast for population growth upwards by 250 million people. This means that by the end of the century there could be 11 billion people living on the planet. The current global population is 7 billion.

The highest population growth occurs in poor countries. The population in Sub-Saharan Africa will quadruple by 2100, according to current estimates by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The jump in the projected population is due to fertility in certain countries not dropping as expected, said Ute Stallmeister, from the German Foundation for World Population, an international development and advocacy organization. “Access to sex education and birth control, did not develop as we had hoped,” she added.

Too few and too many children

Each year around 80 million women in developing countries experience unplanned pregnancies because they have no access to sexual education and birth control. The UN estimates that by 2100 the global population could reach 28.6 billion people if current growth rates do not decline.

Ute Stallmeister, Spokesperson Deutsche Stiftung Weltbev├Âlkerung Stallmeister called for better access to education and birth control

At the same time, the population size in industrialized countries is shrinking. By 2050, the German population is predicted to drop by 10 million. “Considering that we already have a shortage of skilled workers, we definitely need more immigration from other countries in future,” Stallmeister told DW.

Peace for poverty reduction

According to the report by the UN Population Fund, the countries with the fastest growth rates already have difficulties feeding their populations. Worldwide, key goods like water, energy and food are becoming increasingly scarce and more expensive.

At the same time, nations around the globe are confronted with the effects of climate change.

“If we advance human development while destroying the environment around us, then we have created another problem,” Helen Clark, Head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), told DW

The most urgent tasks, Clark added, are adapting to climate change, developing social and ecologically sustainable economic structures, and instituting good governance and peace efforts.

“We will see in the course of the next 12 to 15 years the geography of poverty very, very much come to be confined to where there is conflict, a lot of armed violence, high disaster risk, low resilience, weak governance and fragile states,” she said.

Ethiopia as a role model

Helen Clark, Head of UN development Program UNDP Photo: Helle Jeppesen f├╝r DW Development needs to be sustainable, Clark said

Development needs to be sustainable and bring together environmental protection, social justice and economic development. And according to Clark that is possible. Ethiopia, she said, aims to be a middle-income country and carbon neutral by 2025, adding that “If one of the poorest countries on the Earth can have a strategy on lifting its human development and doing it in a way that is friendly to the environment, we have to get in behind this and see many more countries like Ethiopia with this ambition.”

Clark also emphasized the need to invest more in women’s education over the next decades, “Countries cannot reach their full potential if they cut out the girls and the women.”

Youth as a chance

Stallmeister said she also sees education as a key area of focus, and she warned against focusing only on the negative sides of population growth.

“The large number of young people in these countries represents a big opportunity,” she said. “The Asian tigers led the way – they invested in education and jobs at the right time. Young people were able to earn a living and move their countries forward.”

It’s a recipe African countries could aim to copy, she added, “That is what people hope for Africa as well. It is often referred to as the ‘lion about to jump.'”

A teacher supervises a class as students study at a school in Srinagar, India, Monday, Sept 27, 2010. Schools reopen in trouble-torn Indian Kashmir after a long spell of violent anti-India protests but attendance is thin as Kashmir separatists call for a shutdown in the Himalayan region. (ddp images/AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
Well-educated women tend to have fewer children

But before the African lion can actually take off, the problem of increasing population needs to be tackled, Stallmeister said.

“Girls or young women, who have gone for further education, have fewer children than women with lower education,” she said.

Stallmeister said the best scenario for 2100 would be “a world without poverty, famine and misery.” And it would be a world in which every woman has enough education to decide how many children she wants – if any at all.

11 Comments on "Population growth challenges poor nations"

  1. Ricardo on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 2:46 pm 

    Not gonna happen. That would be a ticket to hell for our earth. We need to decrease human population growth in non white countries, the only way possible to guarantee global peace.

  2. DC on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 3:20 pm 

    Ah, the old mantra, educate girls and the population will magically decrease trope. Here in my country, and other western nations, pretty much all girls were educated. However, my country is up +10 million in my lifetime alone, the US where education is not a priority, is up over 70 million, Britain etc. My own province has doubled in population in my lifetime. Education is universal and compulsory here. All have seen huge population increases in my lifetime. Asia, where they clearly are better at the whole education thing than we are-similar patterns. Large scale growth in population everywhere, whether its Australia, or Canada, or China etc, are the norm, regardless of education levels.

    Educating people is wonderful, but I wish all the bleeding heart liberals would stop insisting education slows population growth-it does not. Germany doesn’t have a low birth rate because they have one some of the worlds best educated people. Other factors are at work.

  3. noobtube on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 6:37 pm 

    It’s much easier for the “West” to focus on problems they can imagine in other parts of the world, instead of fixing the problems in their own part of the world.

    That is the irresponsible nature of the “West” and why the “West” is quickly destroying the capacity of the Earth to support the human population, EVERYWHERE.

  4. efsome on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 7:28 pm 

    I think large cities make crowding pressure, so people make less children. In rural areas its the opposite, since western nations have little rural communities left, so their pop is decreasing. And also maybe rural cultural pressure about make people wed&bred is greater than cities’ indivualistic lifestyle. its more logical to me.

  5. banjo on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 7:31 pm 

    are you kidding me. solar is getting cheaper by the day, then plug in a bit of 3D printing. Lets not forget the shale oil and gas “revolution” no limits friends no limits!

  6. actioncjackson on Sat, 10th Aug 2013 9:47 pm 

    Nice one banjo. 11 billion in 2100? It’ll probably be more like 2 is my guess.

  7. BillT on Sun, 11th Aug 2013 12:02 am 

    Ricardo, consider that the ‘whites’, about 1 billion people, consume MORE than the other 6 billion combined and you can see the problem. It’s no who, but what.

    Action, you are more correct than banjo. and that 2 may be followed by only three zeros, or none.

  8. banjo on Sun, 11th Aug 2013 1:52 am 

    there are no limits! nano solar, 3d printing, shale REVOLUTION. everyone also gets a free unicorn because we are going to the stars. /sarc

  9. Kenz300 on Sun, 11th Aug 2013 3:47 pm 

    The worlds poorest people are having the most children…they have not figured out the connection between their poverty and family size.

  10. BillT on Sun, 11th Aug 2013 11:51 pm 

    But Kenz, the poorest are not the major consumers. We are. The grain in a pound of beef would feed 40 people. Stop eating meat and making bio-fuels and there would be plenty to eat.

    And they have learned over the centuries that they need more babies to ensure that a few live to take care of them in their old age. You may soon see why when the safety nets like Social Security disappear.

  11. Suzanne on Mon, 12th Aug 2013 9:20 pm 

    There is so much that the world needs to do to stabilize population and reduce consumption. But a few things that we can do are the obvious investments we should be making anyway – providing voluntary family planning services to the 222 million women in developing countries that want access to it, ensuring education for girls, empowering women, and pulling people out of poverty.

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