Saturday, August 18, 2012
IN UGANDA PLANNING FOR THE WELFARE OF THE POPULATION IS UNDERMINED BY ITS RAPID GROWTH
By Anthony Bugembe of the Population Secretariat On the occasion of the World Population day in 2010, Anthony Bugembe wrote that the day came at a time when Uganda was grappling with issues of poverty and unemployment and the challenges of providing services to the population especially those living in the rural areas. Uganda’s population then was standing at 33 million people, and largely made up of young people who are heavily dependent on a small working population. About 56% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 18 and does not increase production by as much as it consumes. For every 100 adults in the working age bracket, there are 105 child dependants under the age of 15. Equally challenging is providing social services such as health, education, housing, water and sanitation, employment and other basic needs to this large number of young people that is ever increasing. There is need to plan for this population in terms of transforming it into an asset that can propel development cannot be over emphasized. However, planning for the welfare of all citizens is undermined by the rapidly growing population in the midst of limited resources. Uganda’s population is projected to increase from 33 million to a whopping 55 million in 2025! If we do not plan now to turn this population into a productive force, the rate at which the population is increasing (3.2% annually) will make it unsustainable because the resources at our disposal are not increasing at the same rate. For instance, the demand for land is projected to reach 23 million hectares by 2025 yet Uganda’s geographical size remains 20.5 million hectares excluding water bodies. The efforts of a poor quality population are already visible in Uganda. People are increasingly encroaching on wetlands, forests and water resources as they struggle to find land for agriculture, settlement and sources of fuel. Between 1990 and 2005 alone, Uganda lost about 26% of its forest cover. The increased pressure on the already merger environmental resources has led to adverse climatic conditions such as landslides, floods and drought in several parts of the country. We cannot fold our hands and let things continue the way they are going. Uganda’s population needs to be transformed into quality. That is the only way the country will achieve its vision of a transformation from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country. This requires that all sectors of the economy and the social environment to be addressed, that is, health services, education, food and agriculture, energy, housing, water and sanitation.