Yesterday, July 11, was World Population Day (WPD), an annual event which is internationally observed in seeking to raise awareness of global population issues. Established in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WPD was inspired by the huge public interest shown in the ‘Five Billion Day,’ July 11, 1987.
That was the approximate date on which the total population of the world was projected to reach five billion souls.
According to the United Nations, the population reached seven billion in 2011… and stands at about 7.7 billion today, seemingly growing by the proverbial leaps and bounds.
Indeed, while it took hundreds of thousands of years for the world population to grow to one billion in 1804 – and two billion in 1927 – it has been growing rapidly thereafter, reaching three billion in 1960.
In fact, UN projections are that the population will reach 8.5 billion people in 2030; 9.7 billion in 2050 – and 10.9 billion in 2100.
When all is said and done, the somewhat dramatic growth of the global population in such a relatively short period of time is largely being fuelled by increasing numbers of people who not only survive to reproductive age, but also actually do reproduce offspring as a consequence.
Also contributing to the rapid population growth are major changes in global fertility rates; increased life expectancy (from, 64.6 years in the early 1990s to 72.6 years in 2019); increasing urbanization and accelerating migration.
These megatrends have far-reaching implications, as they do have palpable effects on employment opportunities and incomes distribution, as well as on poverty and general socioeconomic development that can contribute in one way or another to population growth.
Also contributing to population growth are access to functional health-care, education, housing, sanitation, water, food, energy and other human essentials. The greater and readier the access to these products and services is, the greater also is the population growth at the national and global levels, we say.
But, then, such products and services are ample testimony that modern civilisation is taking hold… And, if nothing else, therefore: this puts us squarely on the horns of a dilemma: should we shift progress to the back burner in the interests of halting world population growth?
No country, including Tanzania, is “an island entire of itself,” so that it can ignore – and safely get away with it – the adverse impacts of a rapid world population growth that is not commensurate with equally rapid all-inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic development.
We, therefore, must formulate and implement policies and regulatory frameworks that are purposefully intended to correlate population growth with all-inclusive, sustainable socioeconomic development at the household, national and global levels.
The world must establish as accurately as possible how many people are living where on Planet Earth, as well as their ages and productive abilities vis-à-vis existing family planning measures, so as to be able to effectively plan for future population growth.
All this requires collaborative world-wide planning, as no country or continent will be able to stem the gathering tide of rapid global population single-handedly.