Too many babies: The Population conundrum

At the moment the world has to deal with many issues that are all separate but which interlink; environmental pollution, climate change, population control, food security, epidemics and famines. All these issues are exacerbated by high population densities, and as one of the most densely populated countries on Earth, Rwanda has a particular interest in the forums such as the forth coming Copenhagen summit.  

At the moment the world has to deal with many issues that are all separate but which interlink; environmental pollution, climate change, population control, food security, epidemics and famines.

All these issues are exacerbated by high population densities, and as one of the most densely populated countries on Earth, Rwanda has a particular interest in the forums such as the forth coming Copenhagen summit.

On the whole, people in Third World countries will suffer most from effects of climate change.

Here in Rwanda, we can see anecdotal evidence of longer, drier hot seasons and shorter wet seasons. Overall rainfall in Africa has gone down in the last 50 years, while our population has grown by double within the same period.

We need to find a way to deal with these issues regionally.
Rwanda has a high birth-rate compared to other nations, with 6 births per mother and around 3.5% per year.

However, at that rate a nation’s population will double every 25-30 years. we need to get down to a stabilised rate of 2.1%.

How we achieve that is crucial to reaching any targets we set, because population pressures cause social and economic instability. There are a number of measures that we cannot avoid giving consideration.

Recent legislation in the realm of gender has sought to empower women. firstly, protecting them from violence, giving them property rights, education rights and better healthcare.

The final act of empowerment they need is the control of their fertility; I would support a bill making the female contraceptive pill available to all married women.

The contraceptive pill always causes a stir when first discussed in public. More conservative people in society tend to think it causes immorality, some believe it is our Godly duty to have as many children as possible.

Family planning programmes that advocate abstinence for married couple are unrealistic, because unless married couples have free access to contraception, these programmes are likely to fail.

Throughout our history Rwandan women used to take certain herbs that were high in natural oestrogen that is chemically similar to the modern pill, so this is not a new concept in Rwanda.

When looking at this issue we need practical measures such as contraception, but we need other factors to be dealt with. In subsistence agriculture there is a need for a high birth rate, the more children you had, the more land you could slash and burn to cultivate.

Taking people off this type of farming, to more mechanised farming will remove the need for child labour.

Education is the only long-term solution, teaching parents to value fewer children, and to remove the mental link between strength and fertility. Lowering child mortality is crucial in providing parents with the confidence to have only one or two children knowing they will survive.

So we need to work with donors and organisations that can help make oral contraception available to married women. This is the only way for women to have better control of their lives, so they can plan their futures and play a larger role in our economy.

Rama Isibo is a social commentator

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

Have Your SayLeave a comment