Population problem in Bangladesh and futuristic cautions

(Continued from last day's section)

It is predicted that in the rural areas of our country, the family size is still 6.1 on an average, and in the slum areas it might be even more than this number. Women in our country are shy of buying contraceptives from the local pharmacy and men often are reluctant to use birth control devices. Child marriage in the slums and villages has not been stopped at all in reality. 

But in reality, we the researchers can emphatically say that it has not yet been stopped at all in rural areas of the country. Accordingly for that reason, I suggest that population education should be incorporated in all curriculums of madrasahs and primary schools straight away. There is no harm in having proper and scientific comprehension on such issues enlightening their knowledge-base. 

Instead, we have to vicissitude some mechanisms for popularizing birth control vigorously and also at the same time, make contraceptives and birth control devices available for married couples in the remotest villages, urban slums and marginal regions. As service-providers Family Planning Departments alongside of other NGOs should make it available to the stakeholders and simultaneously should also provide them with proper knowledge on family planning.  

Worldwide statistics clearly show that 80 per cent of the total population of the planet comes from lower-income countries of Asia and Africa, and the growth rate of these countries is also comparatively higher than that of the developed nations. It was found that the rate of population growth in the global context was 2.4 per cent in 1960, which was reduced to 1.8 per cent in 1999. 

I suggest that population education should be 

incorporated in all curriculums of madrasahs 

and primary schools straight away. There is no 

harm in having proper and scientific comprehension 

on such issues enlightening their knowledge base

Most of the developing countries including Bangladesh still have features of high birth rate compared to declining death rate. The richest countries of Europe, the United States and Canada have a growth rate of less than 1 per cent, while growth rate in the African countries still continues to remain at 2.4 per cent. 

We know that world population is increasing at the rate of 1.2 per cent, yet the doubling time of population for many underdeveloped nations is estimated to take 25 to 37 years. In the year 1930, Bangladesh had a population of 35.5 million. It reached to 153.5 million in 2008, despite the fact that the country has had succeeded enormously in reducing its birth rate. 

Our beloved Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at certain time was very much worried about the insuperable demographic countenance of his country, for which, in one of his lectures in 1972, he had expressed his great concern over it and warned us that if we are not careful, our population might reach to 150 million in future creating enormous socio-environmental problems in terms of our food and nutrition. 

Now, we have already crossed that limit creating an unsustainable environment for us; our carrying capacity has already exhausted. This situation is however, is not only pertinent for Bangladesh alone; it is perceptibly true for many Third World nations of the world. It is believed that many of these Third world countries of Asia and Africa face and will continue facing immense problems in terms of securing their food and nutrition intake.

When the global population continues to increase at an abnormally high rate, it is obvious that there would be demand for more food for the survival of these people.  

To feed such a large population, we would be left with only two alternatives: (i) to bring more and more uncultivable land, forest and hills under cultivation which would effectually reduce our unused land resources at a faster rate; (ii) to increase our food productivity by cultivating the same plot of land repeatedly through a massive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and underground water by employing deep tube wells and shallow tube wells, putting a tremendous pressure on the ground water table. 

One Danish economist during 1970s, Ester Boserup propounded her astounding theory of agricultural intensification as a necessity for invention, which posits that population change (indicatively, may it be overpopulation as well) drives to intensify agricultural production, though it thematically contradicts Malthusian position. 

Many of us often unrealistically get inspired by seeing the agricultural growth supported by high technology, which according to them is always effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. 

Despite the increase of food production through technification of agriculture, we must also alternatively ruminate about the catastrophic destruction of our valuable land. We never ponder about the destruction of land fertility and damage of the soil which occur due to overuse of chemical fertilizers and modern forms of extensive irrigation. 

To end this discussion, I would conclude by saying that if we want a better life free from diseases and having proper access to food and nutrition for our future generation, we must keep our population size at an optimum level. To caution everyone, it has to be admitted that in terms of its carrying capacity, Bangladesh has already saturated that level. 

AHM Zehadul Karim is a Professor at Department of Anthropology at Jagannath University