World Population Day; Challenges and opportunities.

July 12 ( On 11 July each year, countries worldwide celebrate world population day. This day is special in that it gives them an opportunity to bring the essential concerns affecting their population to the public’s attention and discuss ways to address the existing problems.

The first thing that comes to our mind on World Population Day is the growing size of the population; Although fertility and mortality have fallen dramatically in recent years in most countries and regions, the population still appears to grow, and the effect of this decline on population growth has been wholly offset by the reduction in infant and child mortality.

In 2011, the world reached a population of 7 billion. This year, the number will hit 8 billion (UNFPA 2022).

In Somalia, despite high infant mortality, with more than 10 percent of children dying before turning one, sustained high fertility rates (6.9 children per woman) have generated rapid population growth. Somalia’s population has increased fourfold since 1975, from 4.0 to 15.7 million in 2022, although population density remains low (one-third the world average).

People under 30 years old represent more than two-thirds of Somalia’s population – one of the largest demographic youth bulges in the world. The future of Somalia will be shaped by the Youth, who are the critical resource of the nation, considering their numbers, potential, and capability as change agents for national transformation.

The absence of up-to-date, reliable information on fertility, mortality, and migration makes it challenging to predict the changes that have taken place in recent years. The last and only successful census attempt was in 1975, although only limited results were released.

Since then, the country has relied on projections and estimates by the Government with the support of the UN, including the 2014 Population Estimation Survey (PESS). The Somalia National Bureau of Statistics plans to undertake a Population and Housing Census in 2024/2025 with the support of UNFPA, UNECA, and the US Census Bureau.

Due to the absence of the CRVS system in Somalia, extensive and up-to-date data on births, deaths, Fetal Death, Marriage, and divorces are missing.

World Population Day draws attention to identifying the challenges and necessary interventions that the government of Somalia should take to address the critical population issues facing its people. Like the rest of the other countries, Somali people face many challenges and prolonged serious situations, particularly the elderly, mothers, and children;

1.Poverty; 69 percent of the Somali population are living below the international poverty line.  Internal conflict and unemployment largely contribute to the high poverty status. The proportion might increase in the following years due to the recurrent droughts affecting the livestock in the rural and nomadic communities.

2.Hunger; According to the office of a special envoy on drought response, 7.1 million people in Somalia are currently affected by drought, face starvation and require urgent humanitarian intervention. About half of this population (3 million people) are IDPs living in camps across the country.

3.Health; Somalia’s health situation is better than before, demonstrated by reduced maternal mortality from 732 in 2015 to 692 per 100,000 live births. However, the number of mothers dying remains very high.

Somalia is celebrating world population day with limited progress in several areas, and the opportunity to continue making a change exists; it has many educated and experienced young people both in-country and in the diaspora and has witnessed expanding health care, especially in the private sector, and is on the right path to implementing the necessary economic and financial reforms. However, much more remains to be done to improve her status.

The country must address poor governance, protracted internal strife, declining economy, poverty, social and gender inequality, and environmental degradation.

Abdulrazak Karie, Demographer.

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