World Population Day: the Global Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People in 2050
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
The world’s population was estimated at 7,137,661,030 on the 1st of January, 2014, and put today at some 7.5billion people even as it is similarly expected to hit 9.1billion by the middle of the century. Observers and stakeholders are of the opinion that the population explosion may have some catastrophic effects on human habitation and the continuous existence of our dear planet- Earth.
In our desperate bid to survive at all cost, extreme measures and selfish tactics have been employed to provide for the inhabitants of this planet without any serious consideration for the general well-being of the host itself. The effects/results of these actions are far reaching to say the least and they have led to endless episodes of horrible disasters which we continuously witness in disturbing proportions. Global Warming, Gas Flaring and Oil Spillage among other extreme climate issues could annihilate the universe if they are not seriously addressed before the end of the century.
- Poverty- The shocking reality is that poverty is a major challenge, some 85% of the world’s population live in abject poverty. I shudder when I think about the rate of people who cannot afford to have a meal in a day and the figures are accelerating in geometric proportions, particularly in developing countries. The ability to afford the basic necessities of life, which food and feeding are very important parts of is centered solely on the availability of money to purchase these items. The United Nations and other powerhouses are playing a prominent role in the fight against global poverty and hunger but more still needs to be done.
- Gender Inequality- Gender disparity is a major concern, the world is structured in a way that supports chauvinism and women are particularly disadvantaged. In my previous write-up, “Gender Equality: Let’s Make It Happen” this topic was extensively addressed. According to reliable statistics, the number of female farmers to male farmers is 3:1 but their male counterparts have unequal access to arable lands, high-tech tools and farm equipment, credit facilities and other available incentives to the detriment of the female folks.
- Uneven distribution of wealth- By 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion, 34 percent higher than today. But one of the barriers to inhibiting the desired food security needed for feeding these people is the unequal distribution of income. Life is not fair; that is nobody’s fault but the world is structured in a way that favors the rich and its helps them to get richer to the detriment of the poor and downtrodden because socialism tends to promote monopolistic tendencies.
The meritocratic situation of the Nigerian economy provides abundant reference, the richest man in the Africa (Alh. Aliko Dangote) is from this country and the richest woman in the continent is also a Nigerian (Mrs. Folohunsho Alakija) but, this unbelievable feat does not impact positively in the life of the average Nigerian because more than 70% of the total Nigerian population still wallow in abject poverty. According to a UN report, they live on less than a $1 a day. I would like to state categorically that I do not blame any of these typhoons or both of them for what is obtainable in the country, I only blame the system that does not provide a level playing ground for everyone to excel at their own pace irrespective of race, gender, skin color, family background among other social parameters. The need to ensure an unparalleled access and equitable distribution of wealth cannot be overemphasized. The correlation between poverty, hunger, unemployment and crime rate can attest critically to this fact.
- Climate Change- The scourge will affect agriculture and forestry systems through higher temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, precipitation changes, increased weeds, pests and disease pressure. Global mean surface temperature is projected to rise in a range from 1.8°C to 4.0°C by 2100. Such changes will have more or less severe impacts on all components of food security: food production and availability, stability of food supplies, access to food and food utilization.
At the current state of knowledge and in view of the wide consensus among scientists that climate change is already ongoing, climate change is more than a risk. It is a challenge to take effective action both to mitigate its effects and to adapt to its unavoidable consequences.
The impacts of climate change on crop production are geographically very unevenly distributed. Although the countries in the Southern hemisphere are not the main originators of climate change, they may suffer the greatest share of the damage in the form of declining yields and greater frequency of extreme weather events (droughts and floods). It has been estimated that the aggregate negative impact of climate change on African agricultural output up to the 2080-2100 period could be between 15 and 30 percent. On the positive side, in the temperate latitudes, mostly the Northern hemisphere, higher temperatures may benefit agriculture: the areas potentially suitable for cropping will expand, the length of the growing period will increase, and crop yields may rise.
On a lighter note, the World Population Day is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987-approximately the date on which the world’s population reached five billion people. (Source; Wikipedia.com).
The main purpose of this significant day is to serve as a wakeup call to decision makers to ensure that efforts are put in place to ensure that our continuous existence as a humans and the general well-being of our host planet is given the utmost attention it sole deserves.
“Not since the end of the Second World War have so many people been forced from their homes across the planet. With nearly 60 million individuals having fled conflict or disaster, women and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. Violent extremists and armed groups are committing terrible abuses that result in trauma, unintended pregnancy and infection with HIV and other diseases. Shame and accountability rest squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrators who wage cowardly battles across the bodies of innocents.
These women are far from just victims. They have hopes, plans and the potential to make important contributions to our common future. We must staunchly protect women’s health, including their sexual and reproductive health, and address their needs as a priority in emergency relief operations. At the same time, we must continuously advance women’s human rights in times of both turmoil and calm in order to enable them to help avert conflict, stand strong should it strike, and foster the healing that is so badly needed in war-torn societies.
“As the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary this year, let us take strength from our founding mission to give hope and support to the most vulnerable. On this World Population Day, I urge countries to commit to bold results that will make 2015 a time of global action, putting people first so that they help build resilience, peace and sustainable prosperity for generations to come.”
(Former United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon (speaking on the World Population Day and its significance)