Countries where population growth poses greatest challenges named

WASHINGTON, DC - The Population Institute today released a report on how population growth is affecting the development prospects of the world's most fragile countries.

Countries where population growth poses greatest challenges named

WASHINGTON, DC – The Population Institute today released a report on how population growth is affecting the development prospects of the world’s most fragile countries. The report, “Demographic Vulnerability: Where population growth poses the greatest challenges,” is the first of its kind, taking into account multiple factors affecting a country’s ability to meet the needs of a growing population, and identifying and ranking the 20 countries facing the greatest demographic challenges with respect to hunger, poverty, water scarcity, environmental degradation, and political instability.

Rapid population growth in all these countries is a challenge multiplier. In several of them —Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—internal or regional conflicts compound the social and economic challenges arising from rapid population growth.

Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute and the principal author of the report, noted that, “Some of the countries profiled in this report—such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—are ‘headline’ countries commonly recognized as ‘fragile’ states, though demographic pressures are seldom acknowledged. Others—such as Burundi, Niger, Malawi, and Mozambique—don’t get much press coverage, but the challenges they face are daunting.”

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Women in these countries need improved access to contraceptive services, but family planning alone is not sufficient. Gender inequality and informational barriers often prevent girls and women from exercising their reproductive rights. Child marriage, in particular, denies girls and women the ability to decide for themselves how many children they will have and when. Many demographically vulnerable countries will also require major investments in sustainable agriculture, water conservation, and good governance, if they are to be sustainable in the long run.

“International development agencies and donor countries alike need to take these demographic trends into account in setting their foreign assistance priorities,” Walker said. “Emergency aid is crucial, but we cannot ignore the long-term development needs of these countries. The challenges are truly formidable and must be addressed sooner rather than later.”

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