Foreign aid and family planning is at the center of the world’s number one problem. That problem is not climate change, or nuclear war, but something which appears on the surface to be much more benign…….population growth. Improvements in health care, less starvation, fewer pandemics and minimal genocide have all contributed to an explosion in earth’s human population.
No solution or strategy will be without its critics and even mentioning the subject generally produces violent reactions. Recently, Bernie Sanders, one of the U.S. Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates, raised the topic of world population control. There was an immediately response that such an idea was a white, western plot to restrict the number if “brown” babies. Emotional, short-sighted and very biased, but typical when this topic is raised. Unfortunately such reactions miss the larger picture completely.
There are too many people in this world, and too many people having too many babies that survive. Reality is reality, and the current population growth is unsustainable both in terms of resources and space.
In a recent BBC series called World Debate, one of the panelists suggested that tying Foreign Aid to Family planning would be a good idea. His concept was that reality has not yet caught up with culture in many countries. Women in India and Africa, he said, do not need six or more children. Many cultures say you need at least that many because many of them will die in childhood. That is not the case anymore. The old statistics do not apply. Some still die but far less than previously. Culture has not caught up with reality. It generally takes generations.
Why not, therefore, tie all foreign aid to family planning, or birth control?
There will be violent reactions against this idea from all sides, probably led by male religious leaders, but we have to start somewhere.
In Western societies, economics has led the way. People just cannot afford to raise more than two to three children so they don’t have more. Education and economic reality has overcome religion and culture.
Tying foreign aid to family planning will help bridge the delay gap between when health care allows more children to live and when education overcomes religion and cultural morays.
If we don’t address and take action soon, difficult though that will be, the alternatives might be a lot worse. Planned pandemics are a distinct possibility and even, in the last resort, genocide. Not pleasant to contemplate but these are extremes that can be avoided if we stop burying our heads in the sand.