Pakistan can’t afford its Population Explosion

By Asad Ullah

Pakistan can’t afford its Population Explosion

Bushra Yousaf

According to the Malthusian theory (1798) of population[i], in a series of 25 years intervals the food grows at a slow arithmetic ratio as 1,2,3,4 while the human population grows at a quick geometric ratio as 2, 4, 6, 8, and 16. In other words, population increases faster than food production. He concludes that at the end of the one hundred years, two third of the population will not be provided for food at all, while in two thousand years the results will be even more horrendous.

Globally, more than 7 billion humans are living on the earth and dilemma is that population is increasing every minute. Some continents are loaded with human capital for example Asia is the most densely populated region. 1/3 of the world population is living in this continent and China being the world’s most populous country, also situated in this continent. Its population is touching the limits of the carrying capacity. The population of humans is also increasing in other Asian countries except Armenia, Japan and Georgia. On the other hand, most of the regions have negative population growth rate for example European countries like Spain, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. The trend of the rapidly increasing population can also be observed in most African countries.[i]

Current Situation in Pakistan

According to the latest United States estimation, the current population of the Pakistan is 192,617,576 as of Tuesday, June 14, 2016, which is equivalent to the 2.57% of the total world population. It indicates that one person in every 39 people of on the planet is a resident of Pakistan. It is now world’s sixth most populous country with 2.05% population growth rate. Pakistan is situated in Asia and its growth rate is significantly high among Asian countries.[ii] Following chart shows the population growth in Pakistan over last ten years.

 

Consequences

This rapid growth is a threat to the natural resources as it leads to the scarcity of land, water, food, etc. Currently, the consumption of food rate is higher than the rate of production which results in a shortage of food supplies in Pakistan. It means more people, more land to live and grow crops, more wood to get fuel and more ways of earning are required that results in a huge competition for basic needs i.e. clean water, food and shelter, education etc. Consequently, high population growth rate also results into other social evils like illiteracy, unskilled population and crimes.

Causes

The basic reason behind high population growth rate in many developing countries is lack of family planning resources, socioeconomic factors and safe birth control methods. In Pakistan nearly one in every four births is unplanned. Many women in Pakistan have a high ratio of unmet needs; they don’t want to have a child or want to delay next child but cannot. The main reason of those unmet needs is very low contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in our country while many women don’t want to use them considered as harmful. This leads to many unwanted pregnancies and potentially unsafe abortions.

The trend of contraceptive usage is highly influenced by two main factors of society i.e. education and economic status. The illiterate and poor people are usually unaware of the economic distress caused by high birth rate. So they are less likely to use modern contraception as compared to the educated and wealthy class of the society. These facts were confirmed by the analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data (DHS).
On the other hand, religious scholars and religious institutions also restrict people against the use of contraceptives. As we, Muslims have firm belief that Allah (S.W.T) is Al-Razzaq. He provides food to every living being. Therefore, abortions and use of contraception once the female conceives are considered as Murder or an act against the will of Allah S.W.T.

Status of Family planning in Pakistan

Currently, both public and private entities are working to serve their clients with a variety of family planning methods including short-acting methods such as oral contraceptive pills or male condoms and longer acting methods (LAM) such as female sterilization, intrauterine device (IUDs), or injections. Despite these methods, many people also use other traditional methods (withdrawal or calendar rhythm) which are the main cause of contraceptive failure in the country. The given data shows the ratio of the users using different family planning methods. Most common methods in Pakistan are traditional methods, male condoms and female sterilization respectively.
If we dig deeper into the history we will come to know that Pakistan adopted the idea of voluntary family planning in 1950s after realizing the effects of quickly extending population. NGOs are playing leading role from the very beginning. According to the demographic health survey private sectors (including Greenstar social marketing, Marie stopes society, family planning association of Pakistan, etc.) are the main supplier in the country for short-acting method users.
While the government is the major provider (including hospitals, clinics, doctors, family welfare centers, etc.) in case of long-acting or permanent method users among all economic classes in the country.

Solution

According to the World Bank database, the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in the Pakistan is very low with only 35% prevalence. While other Muslim countries like Iran and Turkey have even 73%.  It is estimated that soon Pakistan will be at 4th rank among most populous countries if we could not raise the current CPR in order to control the population growth. In London Summit meeting (2012) Pakistan made a commitment to raise its CPR up to 55% by 2020.

To meet this challenge the government should have a keen interest to develop specifically focused, targeted and active programs to reduce the population growth rate in the country. The population welfare department, on the other hand, is responsible for the execution of the plan but unfortunately, scarcity of resources has affected the department badly. There is a need to upgrade the departmental resources as Pakistan has vast resources of family planning which need optimal utilization. So there is also a need to develop a more transparent program to control the rapid growth of population.

Active involvement of NGOs will definitely make the task easier by extending awareness and services in remote areas. The absence of coordination from the population welfare department has been recorded as a serious hurdle in their job.    Therefore, public and private sectors should join hands to increase the coverage area and improve services.

Moreover, continuous promotional campaigns should be an integral part of the whole scheme that can easily be done by the NGOs and social media by targeting the specific audience, especially in remote areas. In this way, Pakistan can achieve its commitment of FP 2020 and the Millennium Development Goal to control over this exploding population.

References

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