Rapid population increase a concern

Editorial

PAPUA New Guinea has been ranked as a country with one of the world’s fastest-growing populations by the World Population Review.
And that is a concern.
With an estimated population of 8.42 million, which compares to the 2000 census population of 5.19 million is the largest in the Pacific Islands, seven million more than next-in-line Fiji, with a population of just under 900,000 (898,760).
The country’s population is growing at an alarming rate and the government is finding it increasingly difficult to cope.
The annual growth for PNG has increased steadily from 2.2 per cent in 1980 and to 3.1 per cent now. The Highlands and Islands regions have annual growth rates higher than the national average.
A summary findings from NSO says of the 22 provinces, Morobe alone contains almost 9.3 per cent of the country’s total population, reporting a total population count of 674,810 people in the 2011 census. Eastern Highlands and the Southern Highlands (minus Hela) are the other two most populated provinces with populationc in excess of half a million.
Significant increase in population is noted mostly for provinces in the Highlands and Islands. However, this is not the case for the provinces in the Mamose region where the population growth rate is comparatively lower.
We bring this up because today is World Population Day.
The day was established by the the United Nations Development Programme in 1989.
Under the 2018 theme, ‘Family Planning is a Human Right’, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.
Thirty-two per cent of PNG’s population is aged between 10 and 24 years – two million people.
A Unicef report on children says this group is largely denied the opportunity of continuing education and access to income and assets. They have little voice and opportunities to express their views and opinions.
Having more than one million children every four years is unsustainable for any nation, especially a nation like PNG where we have huge challenges like infrastructure needs, schools, hospitals, education, and roads and bridges.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last year told a meeting of government departmental head that the government might not be able to meet all the needs if the population continues to increase.
The way forward, hopefully, is to educate our children to delay having children and, of course, sometimes we have to encourage our young people to delay getting married.
It’s becoming a common sight to see young couples getting married early while they have not secured decent employment, have not finished university or tertiary education, are not skilled, and do not have an income level to look after their children. The burden most times falls back on the parents.
The only way forward is education. Not just any education but quality education from the urban to rural schools. Quality education highlights a lot of things
Unless the young population are educated to a standard to understand the advantages and disadvantages of having children very early in life, the population of PNG will continue to increase at an alarming rate.

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