Ugandas population explosion a time bomb - new report Allan Ssekamatte Ugandas rapid population growth is putting significant pressure on the countrys food, water and energy resources, a report has revealed. According to the State of East Africa 2008 report sanctioned by the Society of International Development (SID), the regions rich natural resources are to take a severe strain as more ordinary people aspire for prosperity. The study under the theme Nature Under Pressure, covers Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi the five countries that form the East African Community bloc. It also warns about the devastating effects of climate change. According to the report, Ugandans are the East Africans who got to bed with the fullest stomachs, but the availability of food could be behind the countrys astronomical population growth. An average Ugandan consumes 2,380Kcalories per day, while Burundians consume the least at 1,600Kcalories. Kenyans (2,150), Rwandans (2,070) and Tanzanians (1,960) follow in that order. The SID report projects that East Africas population, which currently stands at 125 million, will meanwhile reach 190 million in 2030. However, the biggest increase will come from Uganda, because the national population growth rate of 3.2 percent per annum is the highest in the world. The information officer at the Population Secretariat, Mr Hannington Burunde says Ugandas population, which currently stands at 31m, will reach a staggering 130 million in 2050. He blames the rate on a high fertility rate as each woman produces an average of seven children during her lifetime. This population growth rate is unsustainable because it is not producing a quality population. It requires an economic growth rate of 10 per cent per annum to sustain such growth, which the country is not achieving, Mr Burunde said. He added, We are sensitising people to learn the meaning of having a planned family and want policy makers to teach their people manageable family sizes. Mr Burunde said government is counting on the UPE programme to bring down the fertility rate as girls stay longer in school, but he repeated President Musevenis oft-mentioned remarks that a big population is not a problem, if it is well educated and involved in the productive process. His figures are corroborated by the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington DC, USA based research and advocacy group which says such growth rates will entrap the country in poverty and instability. Indeed the SID report states that as a result of the population growth, the number of malnourished East Africans increased by 8.8 million between 1990 and 2003. Tanzania recorded a 73 per cent increase in hungry people and accounted for 42 per cent of hungry East Africans, up from 34 per cent a decade earlier. Kenya Uganda and Rwanda all reduced their share of hungry people in East Africa, the report states. Dwindling Nile Perch Significantly, the report states that Ugandan children may not enjoy the famous Nile Perch due to the dwindling species and its demand in foreign markets which make it expensive. It says the volume of Nile Perch harvested from Lake Victoria dwindled by 60 per cent between 1999 and 2008, from 1.2 million tons to 500,000 tonnes. Nile Perch is being replaced by the much smaller species of dagaa which increased in volume by 123 per cent from 476,000 tonnes to over one million tonnes during the same period. Two main reasons account for this, according to the report. It forwards the factors of over-fishing and the use of illegal fishing gear as the main contributors to the trend. cover1b_6.jpg Between 2004 and 2008, the number of fishermen also increased by 30 per cent from 155,066 to 199,242 further straining the resource. The number of monofilament nets (the most destructive fishing nets) increased by almost 10 times in two years; from 2,293 in 2006 to 20,194 in 2008, the report adds. Official government figures reveal that fish stocks in the lake fell from 1.9 million tonnes in 1999 to 370,000 currently. Ugandas export earnings from fish meanwhile fell by $60 million or Shs120b last year, according to Minister of Fisheries Fred Mukisa, who said that 30 factories have already closed while those operating are doing so at 40 per cent capacity. Tanzanias EAC hesitation Tanzania is the country with the largest amount of resources in the region. It has the biggest land mass, 45 percent of the regions renewable water, and the most energy potential. Tanzania has the potential to generate 53,750GWh per year, which is 30 per cent more commercial energy that the rest of East Africa combined (see graph on power generation). Tanzanias population growth rate of 2 per cent, is also the lowest in the region. This could explain the countrys refusal earlier this week to ratify a protocol that would allow citizens of member states to access land in any part of the Community, reside permanently in any country of their choice and move freely using National Identification Cards. Forests and climate change The report warns that unless Ugandans stop cutting trees, there will be a significant negative impact from climate change. It says 26.2 million hectares of trees were cut down between 1990 and 2005 in East Africa, with Rwanda the only country to have increased its forest cover during this period. Tanzania accounts for 90 per cent of the deforestation in East Africa and its share of the regions forested land dropped sharply from 58 per cent to 47 per cent in the 15 years to 2005. Over the same period, Ugandas forest cover fell from 4.9 million hectares to 3.6 million, an annual depletion rate of 2 per cent. Due to climate change, temperatures are rising at 0.5 per cent per decade, leading to a higher incidence of tropical diseases like malaria, decline in production of long cycle crops, suffocation of fish species and phenomena like El Nino. Climate change impacts have the potential to undermine and even to undo progress made in improving the well-being of East Africans, the report states. Areas like the southwest in Kabale, which had been cold, are losing 0.3 degree Celsius off their minimum temperature every 10 years, Mr Paul Isabirye, a principal government meteorologist said recently. These places did not have mosquitoes but now malaria is becoming rampant. The coordinator of the Climate Unit at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Mr Phillip Gwage, said the Teso floods of 2007 typify the negative effects of climate change. The floods resulted in an upsurge in waterborne diseases and breakdown of livelihoods as roads were cut off I know i am not supposed to gloat over this...But i just cant help it,contrary to what every big mouthed gooks have been saying is that despite some people having all the resources their people eat less...and keep pointing fingers to others about how hungry they are kumbe kwao wamezidi na bado wanaendelea kuongezeka unfortunately media zenu cant bring the issue up so the government decides to sweep it under the carpet..hahhahah..