Uganda heading for population explosion

Posted: 29 September 2006

Author: Alana Herro

Within the next few decades, the east African nation of Uganda is likely to have the highest population growth in the world, according to a new report from the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

The country's current population of 27.7 million is projected to explode to 130 million by 2050, a nearly fivefold increase, notes the study. According to Carl Haub, a demographer at PRB, such expansion will entrap the country in poverty and instability. "No one would consider such a rate of growth to be sustainable," he says.

At 3.6 per cent, the African island nation of Mayotte, an overseas collective of France located in the Comoros chain, has the highest annual rate of natural increase today, according to the study. Uganda's current growth rate is 3.1 per cent, while the world average is 1.2 per cent.

The Ugandan government's lack of commitment to family planning is the main reason for the country's extraordinary population growth, says Haub.

The PRB study indicates that only 20 per cent of married Ugandan women between the ages of 15 and 49 have access to contraception. Women in Uganda have an average of 6.9 children, compared with a global average of 2.7 and an African average of 5.1. Some government officials consider this a boon and may in fact be encouraging high birth rates; President Yoweri Museveni has called the nation's population explosion a "great resource."

Today, the world population is 6.6 billion, with the highest human numbers in China, India, and the United States, respectively. By 2025, the global population is expected to reach eight billion, and by 2050 India will probably surpass China in overall numbers, registering an estimated 1.6 billion people.

Source: Worldwatch Institute 18th September 2006.Alana Herro is a staff write at the Institute

The PRB world population wallchart can be accessed on the PRB website at www.prb.org

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