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Report Identifies Countries Most Vulnerable to Population Boom

FILE - Residents displaced due to the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in the Upper Nile capital Malakal wait at a World Food Program (WFP) outpost.

A report released Monday finds countries expecting the biggest boost in population in the coming years are the ones that are the least equipped to handle it.

The report by The Population Institute identifies and ranks the 20 countries facing the greatest demographic challenges with respect to hunger, poverty, water scarcity, environmental degradation, and political instability.

The report determined demographic vulnerability by taking into account various factors affecting a country’s ability to meet the needs of a growing population, including corruption, climate change, and regional conflict.

South Sudan topped the report’s list of the 20 most demographically vulnerable countries. It was rated as “severely vulnerable” in the areas of hunger, poverty, and instability. Somalia, second on the list, was ranked “high” for hunger and environment, and “severe” for poverty and instability.

Other countries in the top 10 included Niger, Burundi, Eritrea, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Sudan.

The report said global population is projected to increase from 7.3 billion to 9.6 billion or more by 2050. Virtually all that growth will be in the developing world, and much of that will occur in countries struggling to alleviate hunger and severe poverty.

Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute and the principal author of the report, urged international development agencies and donor countries to "take these demographic trends into account in setting their foreign assistance priorities. Emergency aid is crucial, but we cannot ignore the long-term development needs of these countries."