It’s official. The world population, yesterday, reached the seven billion mark. And the milestone has come in a record 12 years after the human population hit six billion, yet it took 123 years to reach two billion in 1927, from one billion in 1804.
Indeed, the world population is expected grow further, to eight billion by 2025, and to 10 billion before the end of the century. With this growth come enormous challenges, including increased pressure on limited resources, sparking fears of serious crises in the future.
In Rwanda, the population is estimated at 11 million, up from 7.7 million in 2000, and 9.6 million in 2008. The figure is expected to nearly double by 2050. Although the country’s population growth rate, at 2.7 percent, is among the lowest in the region, the trend is cause for serious concern in a country with a surface area of 26, 338 km2, and poses a major threat to projected economic growth. Nonetheless, statistics indicate a positive trend in the application of the measures designed to control population explosion.
According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2010 report, the average fertility rate of Rwandan women has steadily declined in the recent past, falling from 6.1 children per woman in 2005 to 5.5 in 2008, and 4.6 in 2010.
Although a lot has been achieved in the use of contraceptives, there is need to further entrench birth control measures. It is encouraging that about 45 percent of Rwandan women with spouses use modern contraceptive methods, up from 10 percent in 2005 and 27 percent in 2008, but it’s clear that a lot more needs to be done.
If this growth rate continues unchecked, it will be extremely difficult to implement economic programmes as planned. But if this challenge is to be addressed there will be need for collective efforts, involving the government, civil society, religions and the general public.