Why Tanzania should worry about population growth?

29Apr 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Why Tanzania should worry about population growth?

The United Nations (UN) report titled ‘World Population Prospects: Key findings and advance tables, ’ predicts that between 2015 and 2050, populations of 28 African countries - Tanzania included -

will more than double, as population growth continues to increase at an alarming rate.

The report also list Tanzania among 10 countries, whose populations are projected to increase by at least five folds by 2100. Other countries listed in that category include Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali and Niger, Somalia, Uganda and Zambia.

It names the country as one of high fertility countries in which much of the overall population growth in the world between now and 2050 is projected to occur.

Of the 21 high-fertility countries, 19 are in Africa and 2 are in Asia. The largest are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Afghanistan; this places Tanzania in the top five high fertility countries.

It is expected that during 2015-2050, half of the world’s projected population increase is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, United States of America, Indonesia and Uganda - listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.

Looking at those statistics, there is no bright prospect for the country as far as population control is concerned.

As of 2015, Tanzania birth rate per 1,000population was 39, comparing to Sub Saharan Africa average of 38 and East Africa average of 36, according to 2015 World ‘Population Data Sheet’ published by a private non-profit organisation, Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

I would say comparing with world statistics and statistics of other nations – even developing ones as ours - the situation in Tanzania calls for quick and immediate intervention.

Tanzania Coalition for Demographic Awareness and Action (TCDAA)

Realising the need for the intervention, a number of stakeholders joined hands to form a Tanzania coalition for demographic awareness and action (TCDAA) dedicated at raising greater awareness about the pace of changing the country’s population.

Institution members forming the coalition include Advance Family Planning, DSW, Engender Health, Health Promotion Tanzania, Marie Stopes Tanzania, Pathfinder, UMATI, University of Dar es Salaam Department of Economics and the United Nations Association of Tanzania.

The task force, consisting of several organisations and prominent individuals, is working hard to highlight the need for government to take measures to manage the challenges and seize the opportunities of the country’s rapidly changing population.

Quoted In a recently released statement, Senior Coalition Representative, Halima Shariff said “It is time for government to take note of how quickly the country’s population is growing and changing.”

She added: “The transformation is relevant to all areas of economic policy and public welfare yet it has not received the attention it deserves in terms of investing in areas that would adequately cater for the needs of a rapidly growing population.”

Why worry about population growth?

The report says the particular countries have many reasons to be worried by rapid increase of population. Firstly, virtually all of the major problems that confront the country and the world at large today including climate change, energy crisis, severe poverty, shortage of food, the global economy and political instability, relates to population growth.

It says there is need to raise questions about the future of humanity in this planet we inhabit.

It also points out about the worries of how to feed the rapidly growing population –by at least fivefold- that various reports predict to occur by 2100 in the country and a few other high fertility countries?

“And yet, food is not the only problem. Other resources are also in short supply including energy and water. In many parts of the country, rivers are going dry at various times of the year,” says part of the report.
The report further sites that climate change makes the water situation even more critical, because both water and land scarcity raise conflicts between farmers and pastoralists more often.

Demographic structure in the country shows that as of 2015, the percentage of the population below the age of 15 was 45 per cent while that of 65 and above is 3percent, meaning the country’s majority population are youth.

This move has implication on the economy as it means the country has high dependency burden with few working being obliged to take care of the dependent.

However experts say, high dependency burden is one of the key factors undermining the country’s socioeconomic development and consequently threatens the vision 2025 achievement that aims to transform the country into a middle income status.

“It is therefore important that we find ways to harness potential of the young population to guarantee the country of supply of the future workforce.”

To do that, we still need to prepare these millions of young people adequately by giving them education and training to enable them become productive as we hope.

Experts also suggest that youth who are the future parents should be given family planning education to control population growth and avoid potential population growth crisis.

In view of these challenges, Tanzania Coalition for Demographic Awareness and Action (TCDAA) has recommended to government to create a 5-year development plan to ensure the country capitalises upon the opportunity to realise a demographic dividend – including investing in high job creating sectors.

The coalition also recommends the allocation of sufficient funds to increase the number of people using contraceptive to 60 per cent by 2020, from the current 34 percent.

It notes that increasing such figures would be achieved by scaling-up access to family planning, especially among youth, enabling them to delay childbearing while completing their education and landing themselves into jobs.

TCDAA also suggests for a strategy to ensure there is a comprehensive, scientifically and accurate information on modern methods of family planning to be included in the national secondary school curriculum.

“If such plans are laid down and implemented, we could save young girls from a trap of falling pregnant without intending,”