Ghana’s population growth rate has seen an exponential rapid response over the years. A country that had 5,887,163 population with a 3% fertility rate, and globally ranked 66th in 1955 currently as of July 1, 2023, holds a population of 34,121,985 with a growth rate of 2.02% at 47th global rank according to the United Nations and the World Population Review.
The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area is on the verge of hosting the whole country’s population in 1955 as 4 million people are on record to have been living in the area out of which 2.27 million are in the Nation’s capital Accra, making it the 11th most populated Metropolitan area in Africa.
Ghana’s fertility rate is high and continues to soar higher as there is one birth in every 35 to 49 seconds amounting to about 2,491 births per day according to the Ghana Population Clock.
The above data reaffirms the possible manifestation of the projection made by the World Population Review that the country will continue to grow rapidly for the rest of the century. It is estimated that Ghana’s population will be about 78.79 million by 2099, indicating that people living in the country shall be more than double compared to its current population.
This gives a gist of how beautiful it sounds to be inviting more hands on board to build an advanced or developed country as we might be witnessing a more creative and innovative labor force in the future, but it also inculcates the need to prepare massively to meet life expectations in this regard.
This invokes a whole lot of questions as to whether or not we are braced as a country to make life less stressful, confusing, and difficult for posterity by putting in place structures to fulfill a better future. How is the growing population entitled to share the limited resources and diminishing minerals?
These and many other questions hang in the air to be considered and answered by the authorities.
Any attempt to overlook the possible threats posed to the country depicts a future full of gloom and despair.
The main cause of the rapid growth is Ghana’s high fertility rate of 3.89 per woman. However, various strategies deployed to discourage this constant growth to some extent have not made as much impact as intended.
The most popular among these strategies is the concept of Family Planning which was to help families decide properly in spacing out births. Unfortunately, this has not been fully embraced by many Ghanaians. The idea might have been hindered due to conceptual ambiguity, medical and healthy-wise comprehension.
As birth overtakes these strategies to the extent of witnessing many teenage pregnancy cases, creates more challenges as the country’s dependency rate abounds. The effects of rapid population growth amid less or limited economic growth, lack of sufficient infrastructure, and underdevelopment in all sectors of the country create serious problems for its residents and the nation at large.
Will jobs abound for the available labor force? Will pupils continue to learn under trees? Will people afford a three-square daily meal, will citizens’ lives improve? Will people be paid well to live good lives suiting the perfect standard of living? Will people live without thinking of migrating to other countries? Will there be hope for the hopeless? Will there be transparent governance, a booming economy, and even society? Will there be peace and stability? Generally speaking, will people effortlessly afford basic needs such as food, water, education, sanitation, employment, and shelter?
The inability to find positive or right answers to these questions will make life full of hopelessness, difficulties, and unbearable for future generations and will judge us accordingly.
The vice versa of these questions depict life and a future in despair as the gold, the bauxite, the oil, and other minerals that we are enjoying now might have diminished. Even the density of our land might have been affected negatively through various improper practices.
If we can consider the apparent consequences that accompany this subject matter, then it raises the alarm and calls for the attention it needs by confronting it drastically. All stakeholders need to play their roles pragmatically in dealing with the issue. There must be a designed program to contain the rapid population growth.
At the community level, Actions should include;
- Establishing local environmental groups, encouraging members to “connect the dots” between the population and the environment, and addressing population issues.
- Write opinion pieces for local newspapers, contact local media sources requesting more reporting on population issues – create demand!
- Municipalities should set growth management boundaries, discouraging sprawl development on their fringes.
- Towns and cities should purchase surrounding lands, or the development rights to such lands, to set them aside as nature preserves and open spaces to be useful for the future.
- City councils should pass resolutions accepting limits to growth, and directing their national governments to develop policies to stabilize or reduce national populations.
- Community and municipal authorities must collaborate with health institutions to follow birth records to design befitting programs to reduce births especially teenage cases.
At the national level;
- The government should generously fund family planning programs.
- Make modern contraception legal, free, and available everywhere, even in remote areas
- Improve health care to reduce infant and child mortality
- Restrict child marriage and raise the legal age of marriage (minimum 18 years)
- Introduce obligatory education as long as possible (minimum until the age of 16), and generously fund the necessary infrastructure.
- Empower women, assuring equal rights, treatment, and opportunities for both genders
- Provide information and access to reproductive health care, including all types of low-cost, safe, effective contraception
- Make sterilization free, for men and women, or at least covered under all healthcare plans
- Integrate family planning and safe motherhood programs into primary healthcare systems
- Make population and environmental issues and sex education part of the basic educational curriculum
- Disincentivize third and further children non-coercively, by limiting government support covered under child birth in relation to the National Service Scheme.
- Create a national population policy and program built around an optimal population size, and work to achieve it.
- Set aside half the national landscape free from intensive development and dedicated to biodiversity protection for future use.
This calls for more hands to be able to deal with the situation. The government, civil societies groups, Non-Governmental Organizations, the media, corporate institutions, the church, the Muslim community, the chiefs and traditional councils, and individuals must take it upon ourselves to address the situation to make our nation a better place for posterity.
Let’s arise and build a better Ghana, let’s build the Ghana posterity would be proud of.
Story by William Effah Mensah