The Times – Africa

28 July 2008 | The Times

Tackling poverty in sub-Saharan Africa

Sir, I fear that Archbishop John Sentamu’s heartfelt cry for the poor (Opinion, July 24) will have no more effect than the campaign to make poverty history, at least in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because most of sub-Saharan Africa lacks effective family planning, and its population keeps on doubling, leading inevitably to extreme poverty and hunger. In Ethiopia alone, where distress is greatest at present, the population has increased from 20 million in 1955 to 40 million in 1982, to 80 million in 2006, and is expected to rise to 160 million by 2050 (United Nations figures).

However anguished the cry for the poor, however huge the marches and campaigns, if effective family planning is not available, populations will double repeatedly, and population control will be by the age-old methods of disease, famine and war. It seems that in sub-Saharan Africa this is going to be allowed to happen.

Dr Gerald Danaher

The opportunity for this letter came from an article by Archbishop John Sentamu, who comes from Uganda and who knows Africa well. The letter was published almost unchanged, except that it was shortened by taking out the figures for all sub-Saharan Africa. I took the opportunity to get these figures published by writing to the Leicester Mercury a few days later.