HOW TANZANIA CAN MITIGATE RAPID POPULATION GROWTH

The results of last month’s 2022 National Population and Housing Census have yet to be released, but it has been common knowledge for many years that Tanzania’s population is among the fastest growing in the world.

While this may sound alarming, it all boils down to the ability of the country to feed, house, clothe and provide other basic necessities to the extra mouths.

However, catering for the current population of around 60 million is already a headache for planners.

Reports that the population could cross 80 million by 2050 are definitely a source of national concern, and questions have rightly been raised about the country’s ability to keep pace with the rapid population growth against the backdrop of food security concerns.

But we believe a country like ours with vast tracts of arable land can do better and should not necessarily be thrown into a panic.

If well exploited, the numerous mineral and other resources can cater for more people. In fact, a huge population could come in handy as a market for good and services.

In agriculture, the enormous potential is not being fully exploited. We are only too aware of the post-harvest losses due to lack of storage and other shortcomings.

Also, a large number of our farmers still use the rudimentary village peasant methods.

While surplus agricultural produce rots in some regions, others are ravaged by hunger and starvation. Instead of panicking about population growth now, we must revolutionise and revitalise agriculture to boost productivity.

As we worry about rapid population growth, in affluent societies the reverse is the case, and they have been compelled to import labour.

The experience in those developed countries is that when people become more prosperous, they tend to have smaller families.

Therefore, increased efforts to develop every part of Tanzania are the best way to banish the population explosion fears that have been lingering for many years now.

 HARNESS YOUTH POTENTIAL

Although young people account for over 60 per cent East Africa’s population, the majority are unemployed. They also feel left out of the mainstream in decision-making in their countries.

The truth is that the marginalisation of a sizeable segment of the society is a ticking bomb, which, if not defused, could have devastating consequences.

The youth of the region are increasingly getting informed on their rights through social networking. If East Africa wants to avoid a catastrophe, more needs to be done for its young people sooner rather that later.

We must no longer dismiss them as clueless and unready for leadership and decision-making. They have a huge stake in the direction their countries take, and should be at the forefront, steering them.

Leaders must not forget that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and should get young people busy with programmes that make a difference in their lives.