Population Growth and Its Threat To The Developed World

We may think that the refugee crisis is winding down, with the defeat of IS in Iraq and some hope of the Syrian civil war coming to an end.

Just to remind people: according to the UNHCR 5.5 million people have been forced to flee Syria in the past five years. Another 6.3 million more are internally displaced. Not to mention the 400 000 people who have been killed in the conflict. So that crisis is far from over, despite the fact that the European Union with help from Turkey, has reduced the flow of desperate people crossing into Greece.

Even if the Syrian crisis does resolve itself there is a veritable Tsunami of potential refugees coming from Africa. Africa, you may well ask: Why?

The population of Africa, south of the Sahara, has grown in the past thirty years from 600 million to 1.2 billion (i.e. it has doubled). It will double again to 2.5 billion in the next thirty years.

So what? What’s the problem? All the ghastly colonial regimes have been eliminated, haven’t they? Africa is ‘free’ at last. Why don’t the Africans just get on with things and run their countries for the benefit of all.?

Almost without exception (Botswana is one exception) the African countries south of the Sahara are badly run, and corruption runs rife throughout the continent. (Ref:  It’s Our Turn to Eat by Michaela Wrong). Government and Government officials just see political power as a chance to enrich themselves and have set up what can best be described as criminal organisations to achieve this for themselves. (Zimbabwe, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, even Kenya fall into this category.) (Ref: The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw.)

Population growth, as demonstrated above, makes the situation worse, much worse. Even with good government, coping with the growth in population as described would be impossible. So, what is happening: standards are continually slipping with deteriorating roads, deteriorating health care etc; even primary education is not compulsory or even available in many countries. None of the African countries (except tiny Botswana-population about 2million) are close to providing the services needed for their burgeoning populations; as the time goes by they are actually providing a smaller and smaller percentage of the population anything like what we in the ‘developed world’ might consider as just acceptable services.

If one examines our own situation here in Australia the population has grown from 16 million to 24 million in the same 30 years (i.e. a growth of 50%). The country has done comparatively well in that time, despite the global financial crisis, yet there is still an ‘infrastructure deficit’ with new demands on the Government for education (Gonski), roads, transport etc. Australia is a well run country (don’t laugh, it is.) So, even here in Australia, there is still an endless demand for funds; Australia with its comparatively modest population growth, is using funds which aren’t really available except with a large increase in borrowings.

Therefore, because of the situation they find themselves in, most countries in Africa, really have no chance of progressing, and it is getting worse.

Despite straitened financial circumstances, many if not all Africans have access to a mobile phone, so they are informed almost on a daily basis of the disparity between the living standards in the ‘developed world’ and their mostly impoverished, often undemocratic, increasingly crowded countries and what they perceive as a world devoid of hope.

Increasingly the reaction is to see if they can somehow move to a first world country. Many Africans will have relatives or friends or know of people who have done just that, and they can see that those that have moved have access to jobs, education for their children, proper health care etc. More and more they are contemplating making the risky journey, without proper papers, across the Sahara, seeking what they perceive as a better life. Many of these people will end up as virtual slaves; they all will have heard the horror stories, but desperate people will do anything, so increasingly, more and more people will make the journey.

The people smugglers have honed their skills on the various crises in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They are ready and waiting to service the new set of clients which will come from Africa. The Europeans are in denial about the whole business and DO NOT have a viable plan to tackle the crisis. They are relying on Italy and Greece, two of the weakest members of the European Union to do their dirty work. The German Chancellor has lost her authority as a result of what she tried to do to help resolve the crisis.

In any event the ‘developed world’ is tackling the problem from the wrong end; ‘stopping the boats’ will in the long run, turn out to be a fruitless exercise. Trying to stop the flow of refugees once people have made the life changing decision the move to a ‘developed country’ is not a viable strategy.

The only viable strategy is to start at the point where people are making the decision to leave their homeland and move to a ‘developed country’.

So what is the solution, if there is one?

The value of Aid to Africa is about US$60 billion a year. Much of this is wasted because the ‘developed world’s’ Aid programmes are competitive amongst themselves and are often self-serving: e.g. the Aid is tied to using or buying the Aid-giver’s goods or services. See also Boris Johnson’s latest quote: ‘The UK's aid budget will be shifted to projects that promote its interests, the foreign secretary has said.’ (Ref BBC NEWS Dec 31st 2017.) Also, it is not enough. Some Aid serves to encourage corruption (Ref: Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo)

The third world (in particular Africa) needs to be persuaded that untrammelled population growth is not in anyone’s interests.

There are probably many ways of achieving this, but the Aid needs to be pooled and focussed on reducing population growth. One of the ways of achieving anything in this regard is to focus on the education of women. There are examples round the world, such as the Indian State of Kerala, where women’s literacy is about 95% and the population growth rate is zero. 

The ‘developed world’s’ Aid programmes should be pooled, should probably be tripled and should just focus on this issue. The ‘developed world’ needs to make a combined and coherent effort to persuade the third world that population control is very much in their own interests.

Just trying to ‘stop the boats’ will in the end be counterproductive and sooner or later the dam will burst and the ‘developed world’ will be flooded with unwanted, uneducated, unskilled people who will eventually destroy our societies.

Most Governments in the ‘developed world’ understand the problem, perfectly well. They are however, all focussed on the relatively short-term goals of trying to improve living standards in order to win the next election and stay in power.

Guy Hallowes