Feb 27, 2009

PAKISTAN--Negative impact of population explosion

There is a close link between population and economic/social growth. If a country’s population growth is higher than its GDP, then it will cause a problem. The quality of life and living standards will decrease if its population surpasses the economic growth. Increase in population growth and degradation of Pakistan’s environmental resources will impair its economy, deteriorate its social relations, and even destabilise its political system.We need to realise and admit that population growth is a problem in Pakistan, before we discuss the impact of the increasing population of on society and explain how this issue can be solved. Why is population growth considered as a problem in Pakistan in the first place? It is because the average global standard of living is directly related to the resources available in our country. The ‘health’ of this planet earth is related to how much of the resources each person uses. Resource use and pollution management depend on two main factors: The number of people on this planet and the average amount of resources available and the average amount of pollution produced.Majority of the citizens in Pakistan do not meet their basic necessities. About two-third of the population lives on less than $ 2 a day; and about one-third of our population lives below the poverty line. Pakistan’s population currently is 172.800.048. In 2004. the GDP of Pakistan was $94.80 billion and it would expand to $ I32.95 billion by the financial year 2009. Pakistan faces a serious challenge of population growth - with growth rate of 1.9 percent per annum. It is estimated that Pakistan’s population will double in 37 years. It is unimaginable that economic growth would keep pace with this annual increase. Economic development in Pakistan is extremely slow, because of its large and growing population.Currently, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. During the 1940s, population rates began to increase as health improvements also extended and birth rates remained high. In 1947, Pakistan’s population was 31 million. During this time, the growth rate was 4.5 percent per year. According to UN projections, our population will grow to over 380 million by the year 2050 – even more than US. Pakistan’s population has doubled since the 1970s. In 1971, our population was 65 million. In July 2005, it was 162,4 million. This increasing growth is not just disturbing but it is dangerous. This population explosion will ruin Pakistan.In 1994, about 68 percent of the population lived in rural areas, which is a decrease of seven percent since 1970. The number of people living in urban areas has risen greatly – which resulted in an urban growth rate of 4.6 percent between 1980 and 1991. More than half of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 15 and about one-third is below the age of nine.Why are Pakistan’s cities expanding much faster than the overall population? It is because at the time of our independence, many refugees from India settled in urban areas. Between 1951 and 1981, the urban population quadrupled. Pakistan’s increasing population has a huge impact on its society. Unemployment, pollution, lower living standards, poverty, no agriculture growth, inadequacy of health and education facilities, lack of resources, inflation, rising crime such as corruption, violence and drug abuse are some of the problems which are caused by the growing population.Pakistan is running out of water and this is a great danger. It is suffering from a water crisis as well as an energy crisis. By the year 2025, we will need more water than the country has available to feed the population. Rural areas do not have enough access to water. Streams, lakes, and rivers – which are sources of freshwater – are extremely threatened due to reduced water flow and contamination. Our rivers are dying and drying up due to climate changes. As unemployment rate increases in Pakistan, the gap between the rich and the poor will widen. Increasing population also affects the resources of the country – there will be lack of resources for a person. Infrastructure is also affected by the rising population and so is pollution – air pollution, noise pollution, etc. Environment is greatly affected by population growth. There is not enough space to accommodate all of the people who are now being born – there are too many people and less living space.Another serious problem is the high rate of illiteracy in our country, families in the rural areas prefer sons over daughters for labour work and old age security. This leads to an increasing population – the couple will continuously give birth until they have a baby son. About 30,000 women die from complications of pregnancy, unsafe abortion, or during childbirth each year. Many families believe that family planning is un-Islamic. This factor has a huge impact on our society.What steps have our government taken to check the population growth? Official efforts to reduce population growth have met with very little success. In 1952, the Family Planning Association of Pakistan, which is an NGO, started efforts to curb population growth. After three years, the government began to fund the association and mentioned the need to decrease the population growth in its First Five Year Plan (1955-1960) Family planning programmes initiated during the 1950s and 1960s by private and government institutions. World Bank and the UN along with the Pakistani government funded the programmes for family planning.During Ziaul Haq’s era in 1977, government population planning efforts were almost stopped. In 1980 the Population Division, (previously under the direction of a minister of state) was renamed the Population Welfare Division and transferred to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. This agency was in charge of the delivery of both family planning services and maternal and child health care. By 1980, the population of Pakistan was over 84 million.There are many solutions to the growing population of Pakistan. First of all, we should continue to improve resource efficiency and pollution control so standards of living can rise without negative impact. We need to make sure people in Pakistan have access to family planning services. For that, we need to create awareness first among the people. We need the media to help us in every way possible to portray population growth as a problem in our country. There should be commercials on radio and TV and other mass mediums about family planning. There should be more conferences and seminars to discuss this issue and discover how this issue can be solved. Students should learn about population growth through their academic curriculum – through books and teachers.Education is the biggest solution to the ever growing problem of population growth. If we fight illiteracy, we will fight population growth as well. We need to empower women economically, socially and legally. We live in a male dominated society, and women should be able to voice on all family issues. There should be gender equality. By controlling this rapid growth, poverty will be alleviated at some level and there will be economic development. People will meet their basic necessities if there is a proper check to population growth by the government. There should be a balance between population and development in Pakistan. If we curb population growth, then our citizens will have better living standards and quality life. Reduction in population growth will also play a vital role in the social-economic development in Pakistan.Population explosion will ruin Pakistan in every aspect – socially, politically, and economically. It will also harm its environment. We need to educate our people and create awareness through media to control this population growth. It is harmful to our environment, to our resources, and even to people. Couples are having 8-10 kids, without realizing that expenses have increased, and whether they can afford to raise all of them. They should have fewer kids and educate each and every one of them. The government should come up with better policies to check population growth. If Pakistan’s population growth is not controlled, then this country will go further downhill. By Zara Meer

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