Overseas aid must be linked with family planning provision

5 March 2011 | Leicester Mercury

The Leicester Mercury published a leading article on the need to continue with overseas aid. They published my comment on this virtually unchanged and gave it a good heading.

“Why UK is right to give overseas aid” (Opinion March 2) Excellent. Thank you. But you did not mention the absolute necessity of including family planning in that aid. Without family planning the aid will give only temporary ease and that temporary ease will be followed by even worse distress. No politician has dared advocate the provision of family planning to the poor however much the poor desire it, because the politically correct, and other groups, will denounce it. Politicians should resist this criticism.

Fortunately, today, family planning has become an almost universal right, and the majority of couples use it – over 60% worldwide, 70% in Europe and Latin America, and 90% in China. (UN World contraceptive use 2009)

There is, however, one region of the world where – for religious, political and cultural reasons – contraception is not easily available: this is Africa and the Middle East to Pakistan, where the population has doubled twice since 1950 and is expected to double again before 2050. Even now, after only two doubling (from 300 million to 1,200 million) we can see extreme poverty, hunger, civil turmoil, and conflict in this region. After the next doubling to 2,400 million the distress will be so great that people will at last see that as well as saving lives we should have provided developing countries with family planning – the same family planning upon which our own prosperity depends.

Gerald Danaher