Editorial

We love children, but what is their future?

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Posted  Sunday, December 29   2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Our population structure shows a worrying demographic dependence syndrome with an overburdened middle age group, a heavily dependent young group and a restless youth group. With unemployment running at above 80 per cent, the young and restless youth group (expected to peak at 7.7 million in 2015) is bound to create a myriad social, economic and political problems.

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More than 200 babies were born on Christmas Day from various health centres countrywide bringing joy to many parents. If you take that figure to be the average recordable births per day, then anywhere up to 1,400 children are born every week and up to 72,400 every year.
The excitement of newly borns should, however, not take our eyes off the looming demographic bomb the country is sitting on.

According to the 2013 State of Uganda Population Report, out of the 34 million, about 78 per cent are below the age 30; at least 52 per cent are below age 15 and at least 21 per cent (approximately 6.5 million) are youth in age group 18-30.

Yes, different countries are battling with their own demographic problems arising from their respective population structures. In much of Europe, for example, countries are faced with too many old people and two few young ones. In China, the one-child policy has spawned a sexual imbalance that means many Chinese will never be able to pair up as man and wife.
All these scenarios have a bearing on the economic, social and political sustainability of these countries.

For Uganda’s case, our population structure shows a worrying demographic dependence syndrome with an overburdened middle age group, a heavily dependent young group and a restless youth group. With unemployment running at above 80 per cent, the young and restless youth group (expected to peak at 7.7 million in 2015) is bound to create a myriad social, economic and political problems. The young groups are also bound to tie down a lot of resources in social services, resources that could have been used in infrastructure investment, research and development, etc.

The government should, therefore, start to seriously plan for a more sustainable population structure that spurs rather than hold down development just because there are too few people producing and too many waiting to eat. It, therefore, needs to go beyond the occasional talk about the need for family planning and make it a sustainable campaign.