Page 4, 1st November 1991

1st November 1991
Page 4
Page 4, 1st November 1991 — Superficial view on over population

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Organisations: World Bank


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Superficial view on over population

BERNARD Payne and Dr Dorothy Logic (October 11) seem to have been influenced by the "myth of population explosion". There is no evidence that population growth, in the absence of exploitation, causes poverty.

Food production has kept ahead of population giowth so that there is now more food available per head in the world that at any other time. Even the World Bank has done an aboutturn on population. In the 1960s and 1970s, Robert McNamara, the executive director of World Bank, stated "Population growth is the greatest obstacle to economic advancement". The president of the World Bank in 1989, however, said, "the evidence is clear that economic growth in excess of population growth rates, can be achieved and maintained by both developed and developing countries".

Attributing the famine in Ethiopia to over-population is ignoring the facts. I have had the privilege of working in Ethiopia annually for the last 22 years. Infertility is a much greater problem than any imagined over population. Ethiopia is a vast country with much fertile land which is under populated (60 per cent of the country is arable, with only 11 per cent cultivated).

The scarcity of people makes it difficult to tackle the complex business of transportation and communication. Under population means that people are isolated within their own country an Ethiopian is on average 2.5 days walk from an all-weather road. Drought and war have, on occasions, pushed the situation well beyond self help. Ethiopia needs help now and long term aid in the future, but now as then, her greatest asset is her people. '

What we require is a fair distribution of the world resources in food, wealth, education and health. Our aim should be health and the fullness of life for all by the year 2000.

John Kelly FRCS FRCOG Edgbaston

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