# Volcanic eruption of population - Pakistan.

Malthus explanation to his thesis by using the mathematical tools has become somewhat obsolete. His arithmetic and geometric progression as such are no more valid today nevertheless if these terms are simply seen as an instrument for explaining the gravity of the problem then it could be understood much more clearly as to what he meant rather than getting bogged down into a mathematical debate - So in simple English let us explain what Malthus meant. He was of the view that population was growing faster than resources and if this trend continued it would lead to disaster - To avoid this disaster he thought that man should do something to keep himself within limits.

The gist of the problem is whether Pakistan could balance its food supply on one end and demand on the other but all this would depend on the growth of population and income. Presently even if food production grows by 2.3 per cent to 3.5 per cent for a decade then that increase too would hardly cover the prevailing rate of growth of population.

Economist today have introduced many funny words for expressing themselves i.e. for expressing the level, of inflation they have used the word galloping inflation or sky-rocketing inflation etc. These terms were unknown in the English literature but their use here no doubt does communicate what economists wishes to. In the same way for the growth of population in our country let me define this alarming problem by the use of word 'volcanic population eruption' in our country!

Pakistan with an area of 796095 sq. miles has a population of 110 million meaning per sq. mile density of 134. The spread out of this population in rural and urban areas is in the ratio of 72:28 per cent; while the male female ratio is 111 males for 100 females. The country today has 18 million children below the age of 5 years. Population under 15 years constitute 44.51 per cent of the total population while between 15 and 64 years of age constitute 51.21 per cent. The growth rate of our population is 3.1 per cent about the highest in the world - Per capita income is \$ 380 per annum, about the lowest in the world!

The above statistics may give one, some idea of our demographic characteristics but going little deeper one would observe that there were areas within our country which were hardly inhabited whereas there were some areas where population congestion could be termed as one of the largest in the world i.e. Balochistan was the largest province in Pakistan having very thin population while the city of Karachi was jam-packed. Similarly, in the past few decades it has been witnessed that there were areas where there was a decline in the rate of population growth i.e. some urban areas; while in other areas it has been seen that there was an increasing growth. So our demographic nature varies from place to place and time to time but in general we could safely say that Pakistan was a country which was encountering an alarmingly high population growth rate; a challenge which has to be met by its demographers and economists collectively.

Economic development no wonder was one method of matching population eruption because if economic development was greater than the growth of population that there was no problem. In Pakistan however scarcity of capital and inadequate infrastructure would not make it possible to develop economically in the immediate future. So could we wait and let the population grow? No. We have to keep ourselves within limits side by side we have to make an attempt to provide our people all we could under the circumstances. This is the basis of all our economic planning and activity today - We wish to keep our resources matched to the needs of population and at the same time would want our man to have the very best during his life time. This leads to the fact that on one end human and natural urge has to be satisfied, for it is natural; while on the other additional births have to be controlled; obviously because of repercussions leading to financial and economic strains that may hamper an individual quality of life resulting as a result of diversion of resources for these additional mouths.

Shult's theory may somewhat answer the question why decline has taken place in population growth in some of our urban areas but not really; nobody thinks and act the way Shult's professed at least in our country. Nevertheless with the growth of consciousness and awareness everyone would wish to organize his life as best as possible for himself.

That being so how should we inject consciousness among our people and also make them move forward for economic development? Probably the secret lies in education. If we educate our masses we may possibly attain both the goals collectively. Presently our literacy rate is 27.1 per cent; about the lowest in the world whereas for female it is even much lower. Female education particularly could be quite effective in curtailing the population growth trend as it reduces fertility considerably.

High fertility imposes cost on individuals and the society as a whole - More education higher income and more jobs for women trend to reduce fertility. Thus failing to educate today's children will provide them with inadequate jobs living standards etc. in future. We could thus say that high fertility bestows costs on families; accordingly making it costlist to have children could increase parents likelihood of controlling their fertility. Bus as the economic environment changes especially with a move to an industrial urbanized modern society with higher income levels - the factors which support high fertility, typically weaken, and fertility rate falls.

One contraceptive prevalence survey carried out recently in the country showed that 43 per cent of all currently married women did not want any more children while only 14 per cent of them were using any form of contraceptives.

Our population growth position was so shocking that if we do not act now and let fertility also decline as proposed (which was about 6.5 according to some estimates) to replacement level even then population would still continue to increase for at least 40 years, because the future mothers have already been born.

People mainly in our rural areas find it costlist to provide their children with adequate nutritious medical care and education. Direct costs are large relative to their limited incomes and earning process. But if education is given to them in time it would lead to human capital investment which would significantly improve the children's economic future as well as having a positive impact on fertility reduction. Greater school participation by girls could also help tackling fertility problem. Also a greater acceptance of and freer access to family planning service could change the attitude and conditions as desired.

So far we have been talking of fertility reduction which probably holds the prime importance in this problem i.e. reduction in the rate of population growth. Education was referred to as one of the methods of achieving this objective. The other method was economic development which could result into reduction in fertility. This is another exercise and we have no intention of touching it in detail; nevertheless for economic development education would also be necessary because without it, it would be impossible to man the development programmes.

This leads to the fact that massive education programmes have to be launched. We could knit these programmes in our Rural Works Programme and form them as our basic development initiative - In the absence of this as our population grows in the rural areas it would obviously lead to rural - urban migration resulting that the spending on the urban infrastructure i.e. housing education health services etc. would require an additional increase in the total development spending reaching 30 per cent from 27 per cent. So to curb this tendency of movement from rural to urban areas we would have to make the rural areas interesting to live; this would require development there which could only be possible by injecting education. Education plus economic development we have already discussed would reduce fertility!

So far we have generalised that fertility if reduced could be achieved by injecting education and pursuing economic development but what has Pakistan done so far in tackling its population problem?

Pakistan was among the first developing countries to adopt an explicit population policy. Starting in a modest way in 1953 the Policy gradually took a significant shape by 1965 and by 1970 it was at its peak but since then its importance and effectiveness has gradually been going down - So, eversince this programme commenced down today we could safely say, in general, that the Population or the Family Planning Programme of this country has been a failure- Why?

Social factors in our country were basically the major cause for the non acceptance of the Family Planning Programme and its activities. Obviously then this led to the non-accomplishment of the Programmes objectives. People in our country were basically religious in approach and religion i.e. Islam according to some people does not believe in control. It is GOD who creates, and it is He who provides for these people born and it is He who takes back life when time comes - So there was no need to control i.e. Family Planning! We need not go into a debate of what has been said above but the fact remains that this attitude was mainly responsible for the dilly - dally and shilly - shally attitude of the Organization.

Secondly the approach adopted by the organisation was somewhat unmatched to the circumstances prevailing - If instead of adopting the policy of controversial nature i.e. use of contraceptives etc. emphasis should had been given on education; massive education, in the early stages then possibly by now if we talked of contraceptives etc. people might have listened and accepted them - There is a timing for everything. After all we have to introduce a Programme within the prevailing circumstances!

Then the Family Planning Organization has been running as an organisation and its policies never pushed forward as a "movement". So in its functioning it acted as a typical government department full of hanky - panky lethargic and half-hearted approach; nobody willing to take responsibility etc. as such there was no accountability which obviously led to nothing.

Then alck of proper publicity/propaganda and demonstration campaign were lacking - To accept all these things people i.e. the common man had to be trimmed or trained. So the psychological mood of the people as such was never understood. The Programme organisers just gave up and sat down hands crossed saying that "people do not accept it"! For implementing such programmes as said above people have to be trimmed or brain-washed. It takes time to accomplish these results - It may be seen that by and large people lf Punjab are more likely to listen to Family Planning lecturing/teaching rather than the people of Frontier or Balochistan. So defferent teaching or approach was required for Frontier compared to Punjab, but the objective should in no way be given up. In our Programme tese change of attitudes was never seen nor way out explored. Everyone was whipped the same way and in one way!

Probably the most serious constraint is the environment in which population and family planning programmes have been asked to perform. Population programmes have been made to operate in a hostile environment where most of the factors associated with high fertility reinforce each other. Literacy, especially of females, remains very low, infant mortality high, and large portions of the population live in remote villages. Most signifcantly, cultural traditions place women largely in a domestic role, strongly inhibit open discussion of reproductive events, and strong preferences for male children retard acceptance of family planning methods. These factors will, of course, only change slowly - Then from the outset, this organisation had an impossible task - to implement a multi-sectoral programme without the full cooperation of other key ministries and departments.

Next the Family Planning Organisation problem was partly organisational - The Organisation has suffered from a number of factors which would have severely tested any existing organisation's capacity to successfully manage its programmes, let alone a new organization with a new programme for which political suport was not evident. These factors include: the problematic division of responsibility between the federal and provincial levels; with different time schedules, approval dates of budget and donor reporting requirements variable levels of skills of officers in similar grades; limited management development programmes; and highly complex funding arrangements.

In addition, to the above other problem which was obvious was that of administration and organisation; decision making was overly centralized; staff incentives for performance limited; and monitoring data were little used. There was a mismatch between the emphasis on control, regulation and accountability and the developmental realities of widely scattered, labour incentive units that must respond to local needs. Public administration promotions and personnel rules were based largely on seniority, and tend to prevent long-term specialistt career development. Due to their special status Family Planning Organisation staff have great difficulty advancing within the public administration. Lower ranking staff have almost no career potential.

Then many factors explain the high level of unmet demand for family planning. Limited physical accessiblity of public outlets was an important constraint. Perhaps equally important was the lack of private health sector involvement in family planning. Low use levels suggest limited public and private sector ability to provide appropriate information and education about family planning benefits and acceptable quality services to potential users.

The result of all this was despite having had a population policy now for over 25 years, Pakistan has seen little change in its fertility levels and resulting population growth. The population programmes have suffered from frequent reverses and changes in strategy, with none of the earlier programmes being allowed to mature and adjust. They have suffered from overcentralization, reliance on supplying contraceptives rather than demand generating strategies. Inadequate monitoring and evaluation, unrealistic target setting and lack of political commitment. Family Planning Organization current strategy is closest to a comprehensive population policy as it is based on multi-sectoral involvement and triest o influence fertility behaviour by providing e.g. Maternal and Child health Services and income generating projects for women. Family Planning Organization service network is, however, thinly spread, and only provides services to some 10 - 12 per cent of the population. The other public and private outlets serve roughly another 13 - 15 per cent. Specific outreach to improve Maternal and Child Health Centre engaged in community development efforts and create demand for family planning services remains weak; mass media efforts to create a supportive environment for utilization fo family planning services are also weak. Family Planning Organization suffers from overcentralization at the federal level and has problems with staffing, as most of its staff should be female and female providers face barriers providing effective outreach. The programmes' involvement with other than family planning service delivery and information, education and communications interventions is very limited.

Now what can we do with all this background? Probably in some of our areas, mainly some urban areas like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi etc. we could move forward, somewhat aggressively introducing advance stages of family planning methods i.e. voluntary lecturing in universities dynamic type of ads in streets, colleges, universities etc. while in rural areas we may resort to education mainly female education. On the other hand the Family Planning Organisation may be trimmed to accept the challeges and its frontiers redefined, strategy recast rather, than allowing it develop a defeated outlook.
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