Population and Environmental Changes Report Released [Archives:2001/47/Reportage]

November 19 2001

Mutahar Zabarah, the Assistant Secretary of the National Population Council, said the population growth that took place in the second half of the 20th century at the international level, and in the Third World in particular, led to high demand for natural resources, so as to cause the debilitation of water resources, food and energy. Concerning the status of the Republic of Yemen, Zabarah said that Yemen is part of the world and thus has greatly been influenced by the economic, social and environmental changes resulting from the rapid and huge population growth and its negative consequences. The outcomes of this problem will certainly affect the future of our rising generation, as the population of the Republic of Yemen has risen from 5 million inhabitants in 1960 to more than 20 million inhabitants presently. The annual population growth rate as reported for the mid-90s of the last century totaled 3.7% per annum, which is one of the highest growth rates in the world, despite the fact that this rate has decreased within the last few years. One of the most negative consequences of the rapid population growth in the area of the environment is that the tremendous population growth coincides with a movement of population from the rural areas to the major cities in a very random manner. The internal immigration from the countryside to cities is an issue of major concerns, as it negatively affects the agricultural production in rural areas in ways that add further burdens on the services provided in cities, particularly if the necessary potentials are lacking in the cities. Mr. Zabarah added that the available studies pertaining to population and environment in the Republic of Yemen utterly confirm that the population growth has direct effects on the available resources. This is clear with regard to water resources, arable lands, and the green areas and wildlife which have greatly damaged in unprecedented way, due to high demand and misuse of these resources by the population. These irresponsible practices should sound an alarming bell in Yemen. For instance, the misuse of the underground water, especially in Sana’a, Taiz and Sa’adah, has caused a real disaster in these areas. Studies reveal that each Yemeni’s share of water is continually decreasing as a result of the growing population. Thus, based on some expectations pertaining to the average population growth, the share of each inhabitant will decease from 138 cubic meters of underground water per capita to nearly 86 cubic meters in 2015.
According to Mutahar Zabarah, the negative consequences of population growth and movement to cities will not merely affect water resources, but also the environment in general, represented by the excessive use of chemical substances for agriculture, wastewater disposal and the misuse of natural resources by people. Mr. Mutahar Zabarah concluded his remarks by stressing that this occasion marks an anniversary for all of us, so as to be aware and competent in tackling the different dangers threatening our existence as humans. Zabarah maintained that striking a balance between the growth of population and environment will not become a reality without the mobilizing efforts of all related bodies, particularly with regard to raising public awareness, which can play a major role in rationalizing our practices harmful to environment.