Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Uganda we missed: 8 Million Maximum population.

A commenter to this blog disagreed with my sustainable population figure of 8 million for Uganda when he read my previous articles on populations’ growth. But he failed to suggest another number.  I will stick with my 8 million figures. 
The concept of human population so often is focused on area and how many humans can occupy that area.  When I think in terms of overpopulation, I think in terms of forests and wildlife that we depend upon, as well as water resources.  I also think about *Why* should we have more than 8 million humans in Uganda? Uganda has approximately 31 million people today. 

Consider this: The population of the United States is about 310 million now in this 2010.  In 1940, the population was 131,669,275.  The next year (1941), the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour which lead the USA into wars against Europe and Japan.  They mobilised effectively, producing all the materiel needed to defeat their enemies.   Now the USA has more than doubled in population.  Are they twice as powerful?  No, they are not.  Many would argue that they are actually weaker. (For another day, we can argue that the USA is weaker because of their foreign wars, plus their incredibly suicidal drug war, with locking up 2.5 million people currently, most of whom are in prison just for experimenting with drugs--but I don't want to digress here.) 

EDUCATION:  Then consider this: The Jewish population of the USA is about 1%, and yet, because of their culture emphasising education, they wield considerable political power.  

If everyone in the United States had a four-year college education, or an equivalent in technical training, the United States would be a supremely powerful Nation with a 1940 population.  If just the amount they spend on their drug war were, instead, funneled into education, this would be quite possible to achieve.  

Likewise with Uganda.  If we had a population of eight million educated people--people with college degrees--we would have an ideal democracy (which requires an educated populace) and would not need to accept foreign charity. (call it AID) 

 This brings me to the issue of accepting money from compassionate donor nations.  If Uganda had achieved population stability at the 8 million level, we could then support ourselves.  But our population continues to grow at an appalling rate of 4%, which is further exacerbated by government corruption.  

Donor nations see this corruption, and cut back until we end government corruption.  But donor nations should ALSO see our population growth rate--and END donations until the religious leaders’ stops encouraging people to have children. This can be done--if donor nations acquire the guts to demand this. 

I keep reading conflicting reports.  On the one hand, donor nations are threatening to cut off funding (and some already have cut back), and yet I read this article of four years ago: 

"The Ugandan government is receiving so much foreign aid that the economy is unable to absorb it. Treasury bills have to be used to suck the money out of the system. As a result, the Central Bank is holding $700m in treasury bills, and the interest on that per annum is $120m - which is incurred by the tax payer." -- BBC news, 7 July, 2005

One thing I can tell the readers of this blog: none of this money has trickled down to me! Nothing has changed in my villages. Many people are becoming more desperate and unable to live better lives as the result sky-rocketing prices steming from the alarming populations growth.  Instead of giving us money as "foreign aid" why not spend US$1 billion by building classrooms and paying college instructors to teach us things we need to know to qualify for an accredited bachelor's degree.  Residents of the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) can enroll at the Univ. of DC and pay much lower tuition than students going to your average university in the United States. 
Because of stomach-turning corruption in the Ugandan government under NRM (National Resistance Movement), there must be a way to build those college buildings and pay scholars to teach without having one shilling go to our government. Why hasn't this been done? 
I would love to have a college education, but since I was a kid, I've been struggling just to stay alive. I never had the money to finish my education to get an Advanced level certificate and then go to University.  My life is being wasted because of religion and government corruption.  So let me ask this question: What's the purpose of living in the first place if I am prevented from developing skills commensurate to my abilities?  

I tell you, 8 million people in Uganda with a University education would make for a powerful nation.  A nation where people would have the intellectual wherewithal to work and live together with far fewer conflicts, such as tribalism, Nepotism and the scourge of religion.  

WATER:  Uganda is stressed by its inadequate fresh water supply for people, wildlife, farming and hydroelectric power.  Even though Uganda borders Lake Victoria--the largest fresh-water lake in Africa--people in Kampala, right next to the lake, must store water in jerry cans because of limited supply of clean water. all this is so because of the overwhelming population growth which Ugandan President is embracing.  

FORESTS AND FARMS:  The commenter mentioned that most of Israel is desert.  12% of Uganda is defined as mountainous.  But between "mountainous" and "flat" is a large area of Uganda that is "hilly."  As we have been seeing for the past several years, more people are cutting down forests on hills for farming and living space.  

Here is an example of the problem which is not uncommon.  Henry Wanambwa, the LC I chairman of Kubehwo village that was partly swept by the Bududa landslide, has three wives with whom he sired 24 children. With only one acre of land, he is not able to cultivate enough food for them. He has married off two girls but still has problems feeding the others. 
As the boys grow up, he sends them uphill to find more land to cultivate. "I advised them to cultivate on the steep slopes where there is still some land," he explains.  

When Bududa was made a district about two years ago, its population was about 146,000, according to district statistics. However, this has grown to over 300,000 people. 

As that article notes, Uganda is suffering from overpopulation.  Not just this particular area, but the country as a whole.   For Bududa, which has doubled in population in just two years, how do we go back to 146,000?  Any reduction would bring instant howls of protest from Catholic priests.  George Bush's idea of promoting "abstinence" only guarantees that the problem of overpopulation will continue.  I'm grateful to Pres. Obama for re-funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation.  The US Congress should write this into law so that future Republican presidents cannot reverse it.   
Overpopulation creates and expands poverty, and poverty drives people to war over limited resources.  Overpopulation decreases the security of all of us.  Yes, that includes the United States of America.  
Further, overpopulation increasingly limits the space for wildlife.  Soils at the equator are not rich in humus (black organic material needed for good crops) because of the constant heat and bacterial activity.  Once forests are destroyed to make way for farm land, that area runs the risk of desertification which leads to high erosion.  Then where does the wildlife go?  Well, they don't really go anywhere. They are also forced to compete for limited supplies of food in a decreasing living space--and they simply die out.  In temperate regions, farm land can easily be turned back into forests.  In tropical areas, that is extremely difficult to do--as we are seeing in Brazil and Indonesia.  

WILDLIFE:   When I think of Uganda, I think of our place in the world of nations. Israel does not have the rich wildlife that we have--which is being depleted by way too many hungry people who raid our forests for "bush meat."  It pains me greatly that our monkeys, gorillas, chimps are killed for human consumption.  This is happening all over Africa--because of overpopulation.   Overpopulation is destroying the once-rich biodiversity that we had a generation ago.  The United Nations has warned: "Despite about two decades of conferences, conventions and commitments, the earth's biological diversity -- or biodiversity for short -- steadily erodes as ecosystems suffer and species die out."

In other words, as the Roman Catholic Church and other religions seek to protect life by opposing sex education, birth control methods and abortion, the High Priests of Superstition are killing all of us.   They're killing all of us the way the white settlers in America killed the Indians: not so much by killing Indians, but by killing the buffalo the Indians depended upon for food.   Yes, two and a half years ago, the pope said, "Our earth speaks to us, and we must listen if we want to survive"--Pope Benedict XVI, July 24, 2007.  Okay, is the pope listening to an overpopulated earth and the groans of dying wildlife and humans?  Absolutely not and no pope ever will.   How do the victims of Catholic theology die? (see photo of an African child below.) 

WASTE:  And then there is the problem of waste.  A few years ago I was visiting a friend's friend who collected old West African magazines.  I was paging through one of them, dated 1985 or 86, and came across an article about an Italian waste-dumping company that paid a poor Nigerian landowner to *store* a number of barrels of something toxic in exchange for a sum of money. They didn't tell the farmer what was in the barrels which, at the time, looked okay.  Eventually, the barrels rusted enough to allow a foul substance to started leaking out of them.  So I tried to find an article on the Internet about this--since I no longer have access to those magazines--and I came across this article

In this New York Times article of 3rd Sept 1988, I found both situations--waste being picked up from Nigeria, and this paragraph:

''There's an awful lot of waste floating around Europe,'' said Anthony Brenton, a senior adviser to the European Community's Environment Minister. ''There's rising public concern about it. A number of channels that existed in the past, like dumping in Nigeria, will be closed in the future.''    And: "The ship, the Karin B, picked up the waste in Nigeria on July 30 [1988] and has been searching for a place to unload it ever since."  Twenty-two years later, the problem is even bigger and more desperate.  

Note: European countries have achieved something close to population stabilisation, and they STILL have tonnes of trash they don't know what to do with.   And that's because Europe is overpopulated.  

When you think about the number of people dumping trash in Uganda, 8 million people dumping trash is still an awful lot of trash.  And yes, we do have recycling programmes.  But with a 33m population, even the best recycling programmes are overwhelmed.   Also, recycling programmes work best amongst educated people.  Our literacy rate hovers around 50%, according to a United Nations report of 6 May 2007.

MARRIED WITH NO CHILDREN:  And isn't it so tragically ironic that the very people who produce no children (outside of artificial means)--gay men and women--are to be condemned to death, driven to suicide, or life imprisonment by David Bahati--the German Nazi of our place and time.  Gay people are the very ones who can show us how to lead a productive and enjoyable life without children.  One does not have to invest their identity in children.  

As I said previously, abortion is good.  It is not "a necessary evil" as some have said.  Very limited abortions are permitted in Uganda--and even they are condemned by the Catholic Church.    In a Guttmacher Report, we find this: "Under Ugandan law, induced abortion is permitted only when pregnancy endangers a woman's life. Legal abortions are very rare, given the restricted grounds, the demanding process for obtaining approval (for example, providers typically require certification from three doctors, even though the law does not require this)."

The Catholic Church is quick to point to a passage in their holy book: "Thou shalt not kill" to explain their vigorous anti-Choice propaganda and political actions.  But the Pope is completely silent on David Buhati's Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 which advocates the execution of some gays and the imprisonment of all others who reveal their sexual orientation--and even heterosexual human rights activists who advocate public discussions on this issue.  

The Catholic Church says that life is so precious.  In fact, it is not precious at all if each and every individual born does not have a healthy diet on a daily basis.  Without a healthy diet, the child risks growing up mentally retarded.  In addition, education, including college, must be made available to African children and teenagers--just like European and American children have.  

Life become precious only with education.  And this cannot be realised in an overpopulated country like Uganda.  When these and many other factors are taken into account, 8 million was about right.


ilia said...

This is Ilia and I am the “commenter” referred to.

I would like to clarify my position.

First of all, I would like to say that I admire your work and I have no argument with your main thesis that birth control can greatly contribute to the solution of the problem of food deficit.

But I believe this is only a PART of the solution, and perhaps only for the long term. You have to think about this: there are already 31 million people in Uganda. How do you feed THEM?

It is my belief that you can do this by utilizing advanced agricultural programs.

It was estimated already in 1963 by the Oxford Agricultural Economics Research Institute that, using the agricultural techniques available at that day (in 1963), roughly 550 persons can be nourished from 1 square kilometer of land (Man and his Future, 1963).

Uganda is known for its very fertile soil. I don’t know the exact estimate, but let’s say 50% of its 236,000 square kilometers is fertile (that is probably a conservative estimate).

That is enough to feed 65 million people!

Why isn’t it happening???

Possibly because of a failure to implement advanced agricultural programs!

I mentioned that here in Israel, the population is almost 8 million, with the territory of about 20,000 square kilometers, with perhaps less than 10% of it initially fertile. The country is able to supply ample food to these 8 millions and export agricultural produce all over the world. Why?

It is my belief that it became possible because the state was somehow able to implement advanced agricultural technology (irrigation, selection) AND organization of agricultural work: either entirely collective farming (kibbutzim) or cooperative farming (moshavim).

There is no reason whatsoever why this cannot be done in Uganda!

And there is no denying that Israel had a great international aid. So I don’t think aid is necessarily a bad thing. But somehow the government here managed to convert the donations (at least a good portion of them) into agricultural programs. If all the donations are squandered on corruption – that is the real problem…

(I am not trying to be condescending, I am just trying to share the results of a crazy experiment that has been going on here, as I non-professionally see it.)

I entirely agree that the control of population growth is a very large part of the solution. But implementing agricultural programs is an even larger part! These can go hand in hand.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for standing up to this 'lets have as many babies as we can because Uganda is fertile' nonsense. You do not grow your population simply because you have the land to keep and feed them.

The gist of this problem came from our very own president, who in his wisdom decided that china has only developed because it has a over a billion people.

But ask yourself how a country like New zealand with only 5 million people has a bigger economy than sub saharan africa combined. And she can feed the lot of us too.

It is simplistic and downright dangerous to equate population growth with economic progress. Someone recently said that all we are getting is millions of uneducated and unskilled people with no where to go. That is not a sign of development, but surely a recipe for social unrest and disaster.

Have a look at a previous post I wrote:

ilia said...

Well, China seems to be quite the perfect example for the importance of birth control for human development and economic growth. The beginning of China’s “Family Planning Policy” in 1978 corresponded almost precisely with the beginning of China’s amazing economic growth.

Quitstorm said...

Ilia,Your have a sincere reply. There is plenty of corruption in Uganda government--there's no denying it.It must be said.The whole world know about corruption among Ugandan officials.

I am less concerned about how to feed Uganda's people.There's nothing I can do about that.But what I can do, is teach men, especially, to wear condoms whenever they have sex.I can teach them that more than one child per family is too many children. We're overpopulated. Let's understand this state of affairs and not deny it.

If we can have a programme for circumcising people, we can also have a programme for performing vasectomies on men.

If people don't stop producing so many babies, then I'm not concerned about providing technology and equipment for irrigation, tractors, insect control, etc.

Before food, there must be birth control.If people are going to continue popping out babies, then my time and everybody else's time is wasted trying to feed a growing population.

You may think that I'm cold-hearted and cruel with my dismissive attitude toward feeding the multitudes.But having so many babies in an already-overpopulated nation is thoughtless,
irresponsible, heartless and cruel.

Quitstorm said...

@ Anonymous, Thank you for you excellent remarks.

Quitstorm said...

If populations growth pushes the economy to another level,President Museveni and his freinds who are advocating for more babies with a secret agenda, should tell us,of these three countries, which is more productive

Singapore 4.7 million people
South Africa 50.1 million people
Nigeria 154.7 million people and all these was as of 2009.

The people who want continued population growth would be the church (poor people flock to the church and give money), people who make baby clothes, toys, school supplies, etc., doctors who deliver babies. Then when the baby boys grow up to be about 18 and uneducated, they make for good soldiers and police officers. But mostly, poor people (due to overpopulation) make good slaves, working for next to nothing--because there is so much competition for what jobs are available.

People doesn't understand that the country's resources will be wasted just addressing all the needs of the growing population. There won't be money enough for health facilities in the villages, education, etc. They say that population growth is not a real worry for Uganda. They fail to see the very fact of overpopulation. They doesn't know what it is.