Population and environment [Archives:2004/701/Reportage]

January 8 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
It can be said that the population density in Yemen is higher than that of many other countries and that the population growth is one of the highest in the world.
The particularities of this country are also to the effect that criticizing excessive child birth or encouraging family planning would be calling for trouble from the conservative and the fanatic people who would not hesitate from terming those who call for family planning as infidels. The issue is that there should be some vision and thought for the future. Especially when looking at the current situation of the country and the deteriorating economy and how poor and weak people are getting poorer and weaker, and becoming more in numbers.
Not only that but also the growth in population is directly proportional to deforestation as people are increasingly transferring fertile land into buildings and constructions. More so, the increase in population means a less hygienic environment and more rubbish and waste. It also means more consumption of natural resources such as water and fuel. All these factors and in the presence of unorganized resource handling will surely result disastrous consequences on the people and the land.
Unorganized population growth leads directly to more pollution to the environment, for example the more people there are in a country the more cars they use and hence the more populated the air becomes especially in Yemen where traffic laws are not strong enough to regulate the quality of vehicles and their permissible life span.
Another very important point in this aspect is the relation between Qat and the population growth. Since most if not all Yemenis chew Qat or rather are addicted to it, Qat farmers become quiet influential and buy their way through anything offering their Qat in return. The tragedy of this is that this means more care is taken to growing Qat on the expense of other more important agricultural products and it also means more dangerous effects of the chemical used in growing Qat without professional direction leading to many health hazards. Chemicals are also used in the growth of most of the agricultural products seeking more profitable return on the expense of the consumer's health.
The environment in Yemen has reached a very low level and many preventable diseases are spread among the people, in addition to disease greatly influenced by environmental factors whether in the food or in the air such as gum and throat cancer. The basic facilities in the rural areas such as clean water and a good drainage system are almost extinct and in spite of that focus and concern is with the Qat farms and less important facilities. It is high time that we wake up and do something about the situation, before it becomes too late and we ruin ourselves and our lives.