Uganda's growing population will lead to poverty, given the high rate of
unemployment and costly demands for improved health, education and
sanitation. Voice of America English to
Africa Service reporter Peterson Ssendi in Kampala files this report on the
to the Parliamentarians' Forum, Uganda's population is expected to double in
the next 21 years to over 50 million residents. Experts offer
a variety of reasons. a typical Ugandan wife delivers seven
children on average and Uganda adds over two million people each year to the
Some women say they fear their young
children will die, leaving a couple with less help with farming, or for taking
care of them in old age. Others say
young women who drop out of school are likely to bear children sooner than
those who are educated.
Ogenga Latigo is the leader of the opposition in Uganda's parliament and the
parliamentary representative for Agago county of the northern district of
Pader. He says, "If you go to the North
you will see 'child mothers' -- people who get married at 12 or 13 years and
they have children and the children have children. So, [that adds to] population
growth in Acholi despite of the [rebellion there]."
Chris Baryomunsi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Food Security, Population
and Development warns that if Uganda's population is not controlled, Ugandans
would be surviving on imported food stuffs. However, President Yoweri Museveni
recently told parliament that Uganda is still under-populated and needs a
bigger internal market to boost the economy.
Burunde agrees. He is the head of
Information and Communication for the Population Secretariat in the Ministry of
Finance, Planning and Economic Development, "We are not really against
population growth. What we are trying
to address … is to make sure that as the population grows, they have enough
social services, and they are provided employment or engaged in activities that
can really develop this country."
But family planning experts say improved social services
like health care are not likely unless the population is controlled. Dr. Peter
Ibende is National Program Manager in Reproductive Health – Uganda, an
organization that works to educate Ugandans on family planning:
"In Uganda today, we have one doctor for every 25,000
[Ugandans]. If one person has ten children, you will find that that person will
have to support 12 people [including he and his wife]. This, [often with only]
the meager income of an average Ugandan, which is less than one dollar a day.
So family planning should be used to help society manage its numbers."
Development experts are
also asking for improved efforts aimed at keeping girls in school which many
say could lower the number of young women having children.
They urge the international
community to begin dealing now with the consequences of the likely population
explosion – rather than later.