Population dynamics are key for proper planning

Traders conduct business in downtown Kampala before the Covid-19 lockdowns. PHOTO/ALEX ESAGALA

What you need to know:

  • Various government programmes and interventions designed to improve the livelihoods and quality of lives of Ugandans have died at stillbirth due to limited inclusion of population demographics.

According to the World Bank Group report 2021, Uganda had a population over 44.3 million, with an annual population growth rate of 3.6 percent. Uganda’s population is projected to reach 63.8 million by 2030 and 105.7 million by 2050. 

The country has an annual population growth rate of 3.0 percent, according to Uganda’s Demographic and Health Survey in 2016. Research shows that the high population growth rate has been fuelled mainly by persistently high fertility, coupled with high but declining mortality. 

The country’s infant mortality rate has declined from 122 deaths per 1,000 live births to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to Uganda Demographic House Survey 1989 and 2016 reports respectively.

Uganda’s total fertility rate (TFR) hovered around 7 children per woman for over 30 years and only declined slightly to 6.7 children per woman in 2006 and 6.2 children per woman in 2011. It was estimated at 5.4 children per woman by the 2016 Uganda Demographic Household Survey report. 

The persistently high fertility levels have produced a large population reservoir, generating a population momentum that will ensure that even if fertility were to drastically drop, the population would continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

As Uganda joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Population Day on July 11, it is imperative to ponder on the population challenges that posit on social and sustainable development. 

For Uganda to achieve its sustainable development set path, there needs to be a match between the pace of growth in population and development. If the population burgeon is left unattended high population growth will frustrate development efforts.  

Population growth in Uganda is outstripping the growth in vital social services such as health care, education, housing and employment. Fast growing population in Uganda has a negative effect on natural resources such as wetlands and forests that are being degraded at a faster pace. 

It is evident with the growing encroachment on protected areas such as wetlands and forests for settlement and agriculture due to high population. Research has shown that failure to sustain the population’s natural resource balance results in increasing poverty, climate change, landslides, among others. 

From a policy perspective for Uganda to realise its set path of achieving sustainable development goals integration of population dynamics in development planning at both national and local levels is vital.

There is need for being purpose-driven and strategic in conceptualising, designing, implementing and evaluating effective development policies and programmes that put the population, people, and persons at the centre.  

Various government programmes and interventions designed to improve the livelihoods and quality of lives of Ugandans have died at stillbirth due to limited inclusion of population demographics and patterns, diminutive outputs and outcomes are registered from huge government investment in different programmes and policies. 

In a nutshell, it is imperative for institutions and departments to integrate population factors in national development plans with effective implementation of national population policy and programmes to achieve quality lives for Ugandans. 

Gerald Koraneza, Research and Policy Associate at Population and Social Development Institute ([email protected] )