Population-growth plan needed to avert disaster [Archives:2002/07/Business & Economy]

February 11 2002


Mayoob Al-Kamali
Economic Editor
Yemen needs to take immediate steps to curb its population growth before total disaster, economic experts warned last week.
According to recent studies conducted by the government, the country must seek help from the international community to deal with this threat to the countrys very future.
Officials admit that there is dire need to promote birth control, and utilize the expertise of women if they are going to dismantle what is a ticking time of future health-care challenges.
However, NGOs working in the field of education have revealed that the majority of Yemenis are still unaware of the growing threat, and government policies still seem in their infancy.
Yemeni women are birthing, on average, more than six children.
Studies have indicated that the population in Yemen has increased at the rate of one million people every 18 months, a dangerously high level without better services in place.
The birth rate reached eight newborns for every woman at the beginning of 1990s.
At the same time, children younger than five and their mothers are also needlessly dying due to a lack of proper health care services.
Because women are pregnant so frequently, Yemens maternal death rate is also one of the highest rates in the world.
This is illustrated at the following table, with statistics from 1997 and 1998.
Mothers’ mortality (scaled)
Yemen – 351
Oman – 19
Jordan – 41
Switzerland 5

Average number of children
Yemen – 6.5
Oman – 5.9
Jordan – 4.9
Switzerland – 1.6
Developing world – 3.0

Infant mortality (scaled)
Yemen – 75.5
Oman – 15
Jordan – 30
Switzerland – 4
Developing world – 64

Children mortality younger than 5 (scaled)
Yemen 105
Oman – 18
Jordan – 36
Switzerland – 4
Developing world – 93
Life expectancy (in years)
Yemen – 58
Oman – 70.9
Jordan – 70.2
Switzerland – 78.6
Developing world – 64.4

% of malnourished children, under 5
Yemen – 46
Oman – 23
Jordan – 5
Switzerland 0
Developing world – 31

The Yemeni constitution has ensured equal opportunities for both men and women, yet in many ways women are still second-class citizens here. We need to promote women’s status in the context of family and society.
In order to deal with the crises, women’s participation in the field of development is also indispensable. As a first step, women need to be included in all aspects of Yemeni life, whether social, economical, or political.
The Yemeni government has allocated awareness programs and service projects, and according to its population policies from 2001 to 2005, efforts are under full swing to avert the population crises by attempting to do the following:
– Decreasing the rate of mothers dying to 75 for every 100,000 newborns in 2015 and to 65 in 2025. This can be achieved through providing the necessary information, such as, hygienic nurturing, medical care and reducing the rapid delivery along with providing malnutrition.
– Reducing the rate of children dying, to 35 for every 100,000 newborns in 2015 though using the preventive procedures.
– Improving health conditions and life expectancy in order to reach 70 years in 2015 and more than that in 2025.
Without additional steps, one wonders how the above will be achieved. Here are some related issues that need to be improved:
– Living standards for the majority of Yemeni citizens, through better job opportunities, is a must for both men and women.
– Educational conditions and opportunities for education to the lower classes, particularly in rural Yemen.
– Health services networks, to ensure that pure water and a clean environment is available for healthy nutrition.
– The natural resources of the country.
Implementing new population-growth policies in Yemen need proper and fresh studies. The government, non-government organizations and the private sector all need to work in collaboration.
The authorities should be aware of the negative consequences of not planning ahead to deal with this problem. Building awareness of the danger of population growth should be the responsibility of both the authorities and the local communities.