With an addition of two million children every year and with a fertility rate of about seven children per woman in rural areas, Uganda is likely to see its population rise to from 36.4 million in 2014 to 102 million by 2050, the 2016 projections indicate.
KAMPALA- With an addition of two million children every year and with a fertility rate of about seven children per woman in rural areas, Uganda is likely to see its population rise to from 36.4 million in 2014 to 102 million by 2050, the 2016 projections indicate.
The majority of Ugandans live in rural areas and most women in these parts of the country are illiterate. Uganda’s literacy rate stands at 67.1 percent.
This according to a latest population report, will have surpassed Tanzania’s 99.8 million and Kenya’s 95.5 million by 2050. Currently, Tanazania has 53.7 million people while Kenya’s population stands at 44.5 million people.
The government released the projections on Thursday while launching a report that assesses the state of the country’s population, with a pledge to improve quality of health care of the population, improve incomes, improve survival of maternal and infant mortality rates and keeping a keen eye on the implications of Uganda’s high growth rate.
The report pledges further to ensuring universal access to minimum health care package, improving nutrition, health research, and provision on integrated preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitation services.
This announcement coincided with the timing of a global report which shows that the world population will also hit the nine billion mark on Thursday.
The State of Uganda Population Report 2016, launched in Kampala alongside the State of the World Population Report 2016, paints a distressing picture of a country whose rapidly rising population could have “negative impacts” for its per capita economic growth.
The report indicates that throughout most of that time, the majority of Uganda’s population is likely to be young – leaving a perpetually huge weight of dependence on a small number of productive Ugandans.
The report provides the latest trends and statistics on adolescent and youth populations in Uganda, how they are key to economic and social progress and what must be done to realise their full potential.
Promising results in urban areas
The report further points out that the fertility rate of Ugandan women (in urban areas) has reduced from seven to now 5.8 children per woman since 2014. The report, however, however shows that the figure is still above the sub-Saharan average of 4.8 children per woman.
However, the good news is that the life expectancy of Ugandan men and women has gone up to 58 and 63 years respectively and this is up from 54 and 55 years in 2011.
The State Minister for Finance in Charge of Planning Mr David Bahati said the government regards population as a crucial resource that can be harnessed for national development.
Estimates published in the report, whose focus this year was on quality health care for sustainable development show that if Uganda succeeded in reducing its population growth rate from the current 3.2 per cent to 2.4 per cent in the medium term, the country’s annual growth of per capita GDP could rise by 0.5 per cent.
“If we consider the impact of the population dynamics such a reduction would mean, per capita economic growth rising between 1.4 and 3.0 percentage points per annum as long as Uganda would be in the phase of the ‘demographic gift’ with falling population growth but still substantial labour force growth,” the reports adds.
The report says Uganda has an unusually large discrepancy in fertility between the highly educated urban (3.9) and the rural women with low education (7.8), which it says makes Uganda’s poor prone to poverty which widens inequality and reduces economic growth.
While analysing the impact of population growth on resources, the Executive Director African Centre for Global Health and Social Development Prof. Francis Omaswa said more than 80 per cent of Ugandans rely directly on land, agriculture, and fishing for their livelihood.
He said environmental indicators reveal trends of degradation of agricultural land, soil erosion, deforestation, drainage of wetlands, loss of bio-diversity, reduced range land capacity, and increased pollution.
“We must initiate a national dialogue on what type of health Ugandans should have, what type of environment they must live in and health should not be separated from the way people live. We must also revive the traditional rural system where chiefs played a big role in the hygiene and sanitation of the homes and ensured food security,” said Prof Omaswa.
He said the growth of the population in Uganda is placing stress on the current water and sanitation needs which are key in the quality health care of this nation.
“Do you know that we above 30 per cent of the people in Uganda lack latrine pits, in our urban areas there is flooding, there are poorly-constructed latrines and the resultant run-off of solid waste contaminate water ways and further exacerbate diarrheal disease outbreaks,” Prof. Omaswa said.
He said if the trend persists, challenges to future growth and structural transformation could emerge unless serious measures are taken to convert it into a population dividend adding that even in densely populated Kampala, 85 per cent of households rely on pit latrines.
The report compares Uganda’s socio economic indicators with those of other countries in Africa and Asia that have lower population growth rates and says Uganda’s high population growth rate exacerbates poverty and constrains the household’s and the government’s efforts to provide quality social services such as education and health.
“The problem with a fast-growing population is not the growth itself, but “rapid, unplanned growth,” concludes the report. There are still inadequacies that exist within the health infrastructure and medical supplies; these are attributed to increased demand to available resources; increases population and changing disease burden,” reads the report in part.
The reports recommends that improving the quality of health care therefore calls for fixing the gaps and extending coverage to under serves areas especially the rural communities, those walking more than six kilometers or those on the islands and in mountainous areas.
Various speakers at the launch said, the process of growth is determined by important variables, which include; age structure, sex and distribution, the decisions and policies we make today, and the options available to young people and that this will ultimately determine the quality of the population for Uganda in 2050.
However, the deputy country representative for UNFPA Ms Miranda Tabifor said the government should closely monitor the country’s population trends, “not only in numbers but also in terms of what implications such numbers mean to the provision of services such as health, education, housing, food, [and] employment.”