Next week on July 11, it will be the world population day. As usual we will get updates on different population issues and what interventions are needed to curb the growth. Uganda’s population is estimated to be about 32 million with a growth rate of 3.4 percent.

Children in Gulu, Northern Uganda
Children in Gulu, Northern Uganda Rosebell Kagumir/2008

“Investing in women is a smart choice” is this year’s theme. I believe in the saying that when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. This is not to say when you educate men you’re not targeting a country but it simply shows the wide impact of women education. All the maternal deaths due to myths and ignorance about medical interventions would be partly prevented. You would increase their participation in debates on major issues affecting the country. Then women have an instrumental role they play in bringing up children and in most of our societies many times they actually raise children almost single-handedly so their education directly benefits their children.

Today the BBC has a story from a report by the French Institute for Demographic Studies which warns of a population time bomb for developing nations as the ratio of elderly people rises.

Most elderly people live in poverty. One way Uganda could avoid this is to invest more funds in providing contraceptives and more education of women and men on having smaller families. Fertility rate in Uganda is around 6.7. Which means on average Ugandans give birth to 6  to 7 children. If children were well planned for and well spaced many Ugandans would not be so poor in their old age. There’s a lot of unemployment which means that many children are not necessarily the solution. Many Ugandan youth still depend on their parents even up to the age of 30 as they hit the streets with no jobs. Once they get the jobs, they start having their own family and children and in the absence of social insurance and pensions, parents aren’t left with much to see them through their life.

So as the world marks the Population day, you will likely hear the President and some politicians say there’s no problem with giving birth to many children and they are right. But they don’t take the argument to the end. They must tell people to plan for the children and take into account the economic circumstances and the future. I am not saying poor people have no right to have children but rather that we think more about the implications of have many children and also we should know the days of a man having their land and cows and neighbours to take care of their families are almost long gone. Anyway we must ask what audacity do these politicians have to advocate for more numbers to the population when they have failed to plan for those already in the country.  Somehow they are also caught in the attitudes rather than giving logical solutions.

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