Overpopulation exerting pressure on socio-economic resources

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Alongside poverty and climate change, the developing countries including Pakistan were faced with the monster challenge of overpopulation that was exerting an extraordinary pressure on its socioeconomic resources.

According to the UN population report 2022, the world population had crossed the psychological barrier of eight billion population mark in November last year and is expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100 courtesy to modern innovations and research in medical and pharmaceuticals sciences that significantly reduced mortality rate.

The experts believed that if the population bomb was not wisely defused, then millions of people especially children and women mostly in SAARC, CARs and underdeveloped states would be exposed to hunger, starvation and malnutrition every year in the wake of global economic recessions and international conflicts including USSR-Ukraine, Kashmir and Palestine that has already put peace of these regions at jeopardy.

The first national population census 1951 had revealed that Pakistan’s total population was only 75 million and 93 million in 1961(Incl East Pakistan), 65.3 million in 1972 (Excl East Pakistan), 80.68 million in 1981, 134.8 million in 1998 and it further jumped to a record 207.9 million in 2017, thus showing a massive increase of 132.9 million during 65 years with a substantial 1.91 percent annual growth rate recorded in 2021.

Being the fifth most populous country and the second largest population in Muslim world after Indonesia, Pakistan’s increasing population has already started exerting tremendous pressure on hospitals, educational institutions, agricultural production, forestry, roads, employment and socioeconomic resources.

Experts opined that food security challenges would be increased in the next few years after the recent devastative flood that caused whopping $40 billion economic and agriculture losses to Pakistan for which an inclusive recovery plan was necessary.

The prices of 80KG and 20KG per flour bag in the open market have swelled to Rs12,000 and Rs2600 respectively while around 300 to 500 hundred patients were regularly being examined in major hospitals of KP having over 30 million population with over 2pc growth rate.

“Overpopulation was the mother of all socioeconomic ills as it leads to poverty, hunger, socioeconomic imbalances, encourages corruption, destroys merit, delay justice and even brings down nations under heavy foreign loans’ burdens,” said Prof Dr. Zilakat Malik, former Chairman, Department of Economics, University of Peshawar in a media interview.

Citing a World Bank’s report, he said about six to nine million Pakistanis were likely to be dragged into poverty as a result of last year’s flooding that killed over 1,700 people including women and children, destroyed over two million houses and displaced eight million people besides inflicting around USD 40 billion economic losses to the government kitty. —NNI