Sunday, December 18, 2011

Population is a serious issue

Source: Weekender, Post courier, December 16 - 18, 2011
THE release of the world population report by the United Nations office in Port Moresby highlights a serious lack of policy on population by successive
Papua New Guinea governments. The rapid increase
in population over the years has brought with it many development challenges for PNG. It has brought a lot of strain on education and health services, youth unemployment, land availability in urban centres and even a sharp increase in law and order problems. The rise in ethnic violence experienced in Port Moresby and Lae among other urban centres is a direct result of this sharp increase in urban population resulting from migration from rural areas and provinces. The government’s lack of consistent policy direction on ways of controlling the rapid increase in population has resulted in the many problems that the nation faces today. The most recent outbreak of violence in Lae is a direct result of the huge increase in population
through urban migration that had given rise to squatter settlements all over the city boundaries. The increase in settlements which include settlements on State land, had brought about youth unemployment
on a grand scale, illegal trading on the streets in substances such as drugs, crime, prostitution, poverty,
diseases and many more social ills. The strain on education and health facilities is heart breaking. Urban clinics and the main hospitals are under extreme
pressure to cope with the ever increasing rise in patients seeking medical attention. This problem is compounded by the lack of adequate numbers of professional medical personnel to provide the necessary
services – as well as funds to run the services for the ever-increasing number of patients. In education, schools in and around the city are also having to cater
for more children than they were intended to have resulting in over- crowding in classrooms and lack of resources for the increased numbers of children. The problem in Lae is the same as in Port Moresby and other capital towns and cities in PNG. The current
services being provided by the government for the general public are simply not keeping pace with the rapid increase in population. The strain on funds and resources provided by the government for various
services is enormous and is not getting any easier. Everyone had hoped that the recent national census would provide some accurate data for future planning so that there is better funding and allocation of resources
for the various sectors in the future. Sadly the national census had been a complete failure and waste of resources. When the report is received it would not give an accurate estimation of the current population of PNG. It now means the government will have to wait for another 10 long years before another census is held to give the accurate data that is desperately needed for planning purposes. Papua New Guinea has a serious problem with the rapid rise in population throughout the country. It is a problem that must be addressed with urgency in order for the government and all state agencies to understand the seriousness of the challenges that the nation faces and how best to address those challenges to minimise the adverse effects
now facing the nation. It might be too late for the present government to do anything constructive before
the general elections next year but it is a subject that should be placed before the next government as one of its first priority areas of attention. Just about every sector of public policy is affected by population increases – health, education, law and order, land, employment,
business opportunities and more. It is obvious
from what we are seeing on the ground that planning
and allocation of national government resources for the various sectors of services are not keeping up with the rise in population figures

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