Uganda’s population is estimated to be 34million or more. Some people are worried that with such a high rate of population growth, we could experience an explosion. But my worry is not the explosion.
A big population can be good or bad depending on how it is planned and managed. The worry is: what is the quality of our ever expanding population?
The tragedy is that people in the low income brackets are having more children than the elite and rich which I partly attribute to misdirected family planning campaigns.
I have observed with concern that various campaigns especially communication and behaviour change messages promoting contraceptive use are targeted at the middle and upper class category.
As a result, the educated and well to do urban dwellers have heeded to this call and so it has become out of fashion for today’s modern woman to have more than three children, others are even opting for no children at all.
The result is that the poor are out numbering the rich and elite causing an imbalance in the quality of citizens. Why?
Because the outcome from children of low income parents will be non-educated /non skilled, frustrated, hopeless and vulnerable citizens who can be very dangerous to the existence of the rich and elite as one man alluded that with such a population mix, the poor can’t sleep because they are hungry while on the other hand the rich can’t sleep because the poor are awake and with increased rural urban migration, the rich and elite are sitting on a time bomb.
Even with incentives like medical insurance of up to four children, the rich are shunning having more babies and opting to have only two children; the two children go to good schools and even have one or two plots of land in their names as their inheritance to guarantee them a good start to life and bright future.
But if they are outnumbered, there is no guarantee that these children will enjoy this property when they are surrounded by children of the poor who are flocking the urban centres to seek employment and a better life but because of lack of skills coupled with shortage of jobs, are unable to find employment and thus resort to all sorts of crime for survival including alcoholism and substance abuse targeting those they consider to be privileged or the haves.
So the middle class, rich and elite should have more children because the result will be educated, qualified, exposed and productive citizens who will lead to economic development.
Another way to look at it is that the middle class, rich and elite share the same environment with the poor.
As we prepare our children for a bright future we should not overlook the fact that it is from their surroundings that they find friends/peers and spouses so if the number of the rich and elite is high, chances are high they will team up within their class.
I strongly support having a manageable number of children but let us stop and think about what quality of children the poor rural women are producing.
So instead of the middle and high class opting to have few children, they should be the ones producing more because they have the ability to provide for the children with the basics of life thus creating a quality population.
Ironically, most of the super-rich in our country have either one or two children. What then is that wealth for? Is it fair to have two people command and enjoy too much when the majority fight over too little?
Ms Opiro is a mother of five.