SOIL DEGREDATION AND POPULATION GROWTH IN UGANDA
Uganda is culturally typical of most East African countries. Ugandans value large families, polygamy is legal and fairly common, and 80% of the country is involved in agriculture.
Curiously, the total fertility rates (the average number of children born to each woman) in neighboring, culturally similar countries like Kenya and Tanzania, have gone down in recent years, to 4.91 and 4.97 respectively, but Uganda’s TFR was 7.1 in 2000, leading to a population growth rate of 3.30% per year. (Klasen, Stephan). Such explosive population growth will lead to serious repercussions in all sectors of Ugandan life, and wreak havoc on already precarious ecosystems.
What is it that is keeping Uganda’s birth rate so high compared to its neighbors? The correlation between women’s education and declining birth rates is well documented, and often thought to be the most effective means to decrease the rate of population growth. A study of birth rates and education levels in Tanzania and Uganda finds that even though Uganda has a higher percentage of women with complete secondary education, it finds that 9.9% of Uganda’s women have complete primary education compared with Tanzania’s 46% of women with complete primary education.
This disparity in complete basic education is given as a contributing factor to Uganda’s steadily high TFR, in contrast to Tanzania’s declining TFR. This shows that despite the large portion of Uganda’s women who are well educated, the continuing presence of a large undereducated population keeps Uganda’s populating growing by nearly a million people per year (Larsen, Ulla).
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