1 Billion by 2050
A recent report released by UNICEF has predicted a massive shift in Africa’s child population. The study reported that the under-18 population is predicted to increase by two-thirds, and will reach at least 1 billion by 2050. The report also noted that approximately 40 percent of the world’s children will be in Africa. Over the next 35 years, almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa, and the continent’s population will double in size.

These numbers show a drastic increase from 1950, when only 10 percent of all children lived in Africa. These new statistics also come in spite of a high child mortality rate. Africa currently accounts for approximately half of all child deaths globally, and the ratio of child mortality could rise to about 70 percent.

There are a multitude of factors that play into this high mortality rate. The UNICEF report specifically mentioned that three in ten children live in conflict-affected areas or in fragile regions. It also pointed out that almost 60 percent of all Africans will live in cities by 2050.

Special attention was given to Nigeria, which is currently the most populous country in all of Africa. Nigeria has the greatest number of births on the continent, and is projected to account for one in ten births globally by 2050.

As Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, explained, “This report must be a catalyst for global, regional and national dialogue on Africa’s children. By investing in children now – in their health, education and protection – Africa could realize the economic benefits experienced previously in other regions and countries that have undergone similar demographic shifts.”

– Andre Gobbo

Sources: BBC, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2
Photo: Kiwanja

population action international
Population Action International is a nonprofit organization that “advocates for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health, reduce poverty and protect their environment.” Its goal is to stem rapid population growth which will help lift families out of poverty and prevent damage to the environment caused in high population density areas.

The organization divides its work into a few different areas including advocacy and research. Each area strives to increase access to contraception around the world.

In terms of advocacy, Population Action International works both in the United States and abroad to create political support behind contraception programs.

For example, in the U.S., the organization works directly with Congress to promote reproductive health programs. Population Action International has made significant progress doing so over the last few years, including helping to significantly increasing funding for family planning. PAI is currently “working hard to protect these gains in the face of spending cuts and attacks on women’s health programs.”

On the global level, the organization supports countries by providing grants to fund family planning advocacy programs, often in developing countries. Because access to contraception is not a high priority in certain countries, these Population Action International grants are often the only source of funding for in-country advocacy programs.

One of Population Action International’s key research areas is identifying “links between demographics for governments and global institutions to combat poverty, ensure growing nations develop sustainably, and create a more stable world.”

When countries have uncontrolled population growth with little to no access to contraception, poverty is often a result, which can lead to conflict. PAI’s research in this field has identified relationships between large population growth and a number of factors including food security, health, climate change, violent conflict and economic progress.

Because of the results of this research, the organization believes that providing high population, low socioeconomic communities with contraception will enable them to thrive again.

In addition, Population Action International focuses its research on the effects large population growth areas have on climate change. Larger populations put increased pressures on the environment, whether that means using more resources or occupying more land. Supporting family planning, therefore, also supports environmental protection, the organization argues.

According to Population Action International, they exist “because providing women the family planning they want can save hundreds of thousands of lives.” The organization is a leader in the field of contraception, providing women around the world with access to reproductive health services in the hopes that it will help stem population growth and, among other things, alleviate poverty.

– Emily Jablonski

Sources: Charity Navigator, Population Action International, Vimeo

If the entire world lived like the average American, it would need 5 planets to provide enough resources to sustain that life.  Every day, the average person throws away 4 pounds of waste and 84% of that so called garbage should be recycled.  Most American families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year and as a result, the United States produces enough garbage daily that it would be equivalent to the weight of the entire Empire State Building.

The world actually produces enough waste that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been formed, which is a giant rotating vortex of debris and waste in the Pacific Ocean.  The area of this gargantuan patch of filth occupying the Pacific is equal to double the size of the entire United States of America and holds close to 100 million tons of waste.

At the same time, and being a causing factor, the human population has grown so much that it has actually grown more in the past 50 years than it did in the 4 million years before that.  The world growing is actually a very good thing and no one should try to stop it, but overpopulation can be a very serious issue because that would entail eventually reaching the carrying capacity for mankind, meaning that hundreds of thousands would starve.

The important thing to remember is that development and education is the best ways to combat overpopulation, not just letting people stay in extreme poverty.  The more foreign aid a country receives, the more that country can develop and educate its people in order to show them about contraceptives as well as introduce them to vaccines to keep their children healthy so that they don’t have the need for more children.

Many good-intentioned Americans would say something along the lines that they try their best on a daily basis to reduce their effect on the environment in whatever ways possible.  Unfortunately, they are not always presented with the best options and really need to be educated on what would be the best way to help the environment.

As countries around the world are developing, that means they are slowly creating more pollution and they need to be educated as well, but they can’t be unless there already is someone that can educate them or lead by example.

Many Americans don’t consider climate change when making political decisions, and it could take just that to actually combat climate change.  One of the best things that Americans can do is buy in bulk, that is of course if food won’t be wasted, so that they can conserve packaging.

As much as 50% of the waste in a person’s garbage is actually just packaging, so the less packaging that is bought means the less garbage produced.  It would only cost about $13 billion a year in order to satisfy the most basic food and sanitation requirements of the world (equivalent to what Americans and Europeans spend on perfume), it’s just a matter of awareness.

Kenneth W. Kliesner

Sources: Solar Energy World, Rethink Recycling
Photo: Cookiesound

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Poverty in Rwanda
Rwanda has made vast improvements in reducing poverty in the past decade. Nevertheless, the majority of their population lives below the poverty line. Discussed below are the leading and somewhat surprising facts about poverty in Rwanda.


Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda


The Bad News

1.  57% of Rwandans live below the poverty line and 37% live in extreme poverty.

2. Rwanda is the most densely packed country in Africa. With an annual population growth rate of around 3%, the population will have an additional 12 million people by 2015.

3. The 1994 genocide, which killed about 1 million people, changed the demographic structure of the country. Women now account for 54% of the population, and women and orphans were left as the heads of many households.

4. 44% of Rwandan children suffer from stunting. This means that they are unable to grow to their full potential because of a lack of adequate nutrition.

5. Agriculture employs 80% of the labor force, but only accounts for a third of the country’s GDP. Nearly half of Rwandan agricultural households experience food insecurity.


…The Good News

6. At least 1 million Rwandans have been lifted out of poverty in the last five years. This has been attributed to an increase in agricultural incomes and income transfers.

7.  Between 2006-2011, Rwanda posted an average annual growth of real GDP of 8.4%. This was driven mainly by higher productivity in the agricultural and industrial sectors.

8. Since 2005 the mortality rate of children under 5 has been halved from 152 to 76 deaths per thousand.

9.  Immediately following the genocide, 100 percent of the government budget came from foreign aid. In 2011, the figure had fallen to 40%.

10. Participation in secondary schooling has doubled since 2006, and primary education has far exceeded the set target.

Rwanda still has a long way to go, but the recent successes provide hope for the 10 million people living within its borders. A combination of government programs, foreign aid, and a continued focus on agricultural production promises to bring more and more people out of poverty in Rwanda every day.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Sources: World Bank, Rural PovertyFeed the FutureUNDP
Photo: The Telegraph

Niger's 3N Initiative to Improve Food Security
The African country of Niger, a landlocked nation in the north-central part of the continent in the Sahel region, has struggled intermittently with food security for the last fifty years. Before the 1960s, Niger was a productive agricultural region that was not only self-sustaining but exported cereal grains. Now, due to a rapidly growing population, recurring droughts and poverty, Niger struggles to grow enough food to feed its people.

The Nigerien government is implementing an ambitious agricultural transformation plan called the 3N Initiative – Nigeriens Feeding Nigeriens. It is estimated to cost $2 billion in the first three years and will address issues and reformations in the agricultural, environmental, industrial, and energy sectors. Initiatives range from providing farmers with technology and seeds to expanding market access and management.

Overcoming obstacles to food and nutrition security in Niger is no small task. Drought is the main impediment to productive agriculture: Niger experiences drought at least once every two years, although droughts have been increasing in the last decade. Only one percent of the country’s land receives more than 23 inches of rain each year, and just 12 percent of the land can sustain agriculture.

In a country where eighty percent of the population depends on agriculture for sustenance and livelihood, addressing agricultural issues is critical. Niger has one of the fastest-growing populations of any country, has doubled from 7 million in 1988 to 15 million in 2010. In addition to population growth and drought, unstable food prices have contributed to food insecurity throughout the Sahel region. The prices of staple cereal grains such as millet are well above the five-year average. For the world’s poor, food accessibility is just as important as agricultural productivity in improving health and quality of life.

Attempts by previous Niger administrations to achieve food security have clearly not been successful in the long run. Current national administrators say that political will, coordination, and centralized leadership set the 3N Initiative apart. The Nigerien government is working to draft legislation that will ensure the existence of the Initiative well into the future.

Both Niger and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) acknowledge the urgency of addressing food security throughout the Sahel region, which suffered a major drought and resulting famine in 2010. Niger’s FAO representative states that addressing food security is necessary for every country in the region. Niger’s 3N Initiative, if successful, can serve as an example for other African countries seeking to achieve food security through agricultural and political transformation.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: FAO
Photo: AusAID