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Africa and its Population

D 17 janvier 2020     H 05:00     A     C 0 messages


The planet’s growing population is a success story. This growth is attributable to improvements in human survival associated with the application of modern medical science, better sanitation and immunisation of children, which have caused the death rate to decrease. The rise of urbanisation has also had an effect. Less importance is based on the traditional beliefs about the value of children, particularly sons, as an asset to be relied upon by their parents in agricultural production and to support them during old age and when high child mortality and low levels of rural female education encouraged high fertility. The fall in the influence of religions, which teach that children are gifts from God has also lowered the birth rate.

Africa is currently experiencing a population increase. Over the next 30 years, the number of people on the continent is expected to double from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion. Approximately three-dozen countries, largely in sub-Saharan Africa, are projected to more than quadruple during this century according to the United Nations.

The country with the most rapid rate of projected population growth is Niger. Its population is expected to increase seventeen-fold over the 21st century, from 11 million to 192 million, again according to the medium variant. If fertility were to decline more rapidly, the low variant, from its current 7 births per woman to 4 births per woman by mid-century and to the replacement level of 2 births per woman by the century’s close, Niger’s population would increase nearly thirteen-fold to 144 million during the century. Moreover, even if its fertility rate were to fall immediately to the replacement level, the instant replacement variant, Niger’s population is projected to triple to 37 million over the 21st century.

But, in many African regions, the problem is underpopulation : The people are so thinly spread over large areas that it is often difficult to create a meaningful infrastructure to promote the interaction crucial to development. Africa’s average population density is only 16 per square kilometer, against China’s 100 per square kilometer and India’s 225. In fact, Africa has only one-fifth the population density of Europe. Furthermore, Africa has more arable land per capita than any other developing region. Africans point to the case of India, condemned by many experts in the 1960s to perpetual hunger. Today India is producing the bulk of its own food.

Africa retains fertility rates far above replacement. If the human population truly is heading towards 11 billion people, as the UN predicts, then the future of Africa will be grim ; the continent will remain largely poor and rural. Women will be forced to have child after child, swelling the numbers of humanity in the one place on Earth that can least easily sustain them. But this is also a too pessimistic a prognosis. Parts of Africa are making great strides in empowering women and reducing the number of children they have. Kenya is one example, though not the only one. Only about a quarter of its people earn a salary from either a private - or public-sector employer, which is the very definition of a modern workforce.

Elsewhere the fertility rate figures are less encouraging : Niger, 7 ; Mali, 6 ; Nigeria, 5. But even there, changes are happening : Nigeria’s fertility rate was almost seven in 1980. Africa in this century will feature urbanisation, better-educated girls and women, and falling fertility. Not everywhere, and not all at once, but in more places than not, and sooner rather than later.

There is good news : Population growth is slowing, and it is expected to come to almost a standstill. The fertility rate is dropping, the rate of population rise is falling and family sizes are reducing. Now, the average number of births per woman is 2.5, but by 2050, it is projected to drop to 2.2, putting the world on the brink of population decline. A rate of 2.1 births per woman is considered to be barely enough to sustain the population, which is expected to reach its maximum by the end of the century at 11 billion. The lower number of births per woman will hit hardest 55 countries that are set to see their populations decline by at least one percent. The bad news is that most of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries.

Every human born may well be an extra mouth to feed but also another pair of helping hands and an additional thoughtful brain. We need no more misanthropic pronouncements about too many people or that humanity has exceeded carrying capacity or that humanity is an alien species to the Planet Earth’s ecology. Even though it might sound counterintuitive, for stabilising and lowering the population forget all about population policies and instead simply help each and every woman bear a child in good health, whenever she herself chooses to have a baby. Ending population growth starts by saving the children of the poorest women. Giving women control of both their lives and their bodies is what will control population growth. The best family planning and contraceptive is the empowerment of women.

“Overpopulation” is a thinly veiled racist and capitalist myths that is accepted by both right-wingers and progressives alike as an obvious self-affirming fact. People who claim to hate genocide and eugenics who push this myth and advocate population control have no sense of irony. Those accepting the overpopulation argument obscure the more immediate causes of suffering under capitalism. Because of its short-termism, its unrelenting drive for profits, and international conflict, capitalism expresses a tendency toward planetary crisis, regardless of the total number of humans living on earth. The amount of waste and pollution under capitalism is enormous with its preponderance of the production and distribution of useless products, the wasted labour and the creation of mounting piles of garbage as a result of planned obsolescence and single-use products. Population growth is not primarily responsible for the many accelerating global environmental crises. Even if population growth were to end today ecosystem collapse would continue more or less unabated.

The concentration on so-called overpopulation confuses symptoms with causes, validating apologists for the system and perpetuating Malthusian anti-poor, nationalist, and racist arguments. This central concept in the ideological armory of capitalism is the idea that there isn’t enough to go around. Hence we are confronted with the idea that there isn’t enough food, aren’t enough jobs, isn’t enough housing, or aren’t enough class-room places or too long hospital waiting lists because there is a certain fixed amount of all these things. People who claim that population growth is the issue are shifting the blame from the rich to the poor.

A decade ago, many believed that Muslim culture, with its emphasis on traditional gender roles, would defy the fertility transition. But then fertility rates in majority-Muslim countries plunged. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Indonesia have mostly completed their fertility transitions, while Egypt’s and Pakistan’s are underway. Now the worry has shifted to sub-Saharan Africa. With a fertility rate of about five births per woman, it’s the only region of the globe that has not yet made the jump to small families. But even here, there are signs of change in a small but growing number of countries.

Countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo still have very high fertility rates. But if these last holdouts fall, the global triumph of small families will be complete.There are suggestions that Africa will not buck the trend and overpopulate the world. First, there’s a strong association between fertility and income levels — once a country passes about $5,000 in per capita annual gross domestic product, it almost never has a high fertility rate. Rapid growth in a number of African countries means that this level will be in reach within a few decades. Also, the transition appears to be happening much faster than in the past — it took the U.K. 95 years to drop from a fertility rate of six children per woman to three, but it took Botswana only 24, Bangladesh 20 and Iran only 10. Lower fertility won’t immediately defuse the population bomb.

The number of people in a country continues to rise for years after young people stop having lots of kids — a phenomenon known as population momentum. Thus, the United Nations continues to project that global population will rise from about 7.6 billion today to more than 11 billion by the end of the century. Much of sub-Saharan Africa will possess a surplus of people for decades to come, and many of those people will want to migrate to wealthy, aging countries in search of better opportunities, or to escape strife and conflict.

In a socialist society humanity will for the first time be truly free and living according to natural principles, it will consciously direct its own development. Mankind will act consciously and according to a plan and to the whims of the market economy. With socialism overpopulation will not be an issue. The solution to the population “problem” is to overthrow capitalism for if production is geared to the needs of the people and not to filling the coffers of a few capitalists and their corporations there will be no population problem. It is not people who are “polluting” the world with their numbers but Big Business.

Source from https://socialistbanner.blogspot.com/

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