Return of the MalthusiansOK, which is it? I’m confused? A drop in the ocean or a tidal wave?
JAMES WOUDHUYSEN WRITER
Once again, Westerners are foisting population control on Africa.
24 JANUARY 2018
It’s time more people knew just how much action, research and policy effort Western non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Western governments now put in to try to limit population growth in Africa.
From the US, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gates Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the Population Council and the Ford Foundation are very active. In Britain, the charity Population Matters sees checks on population as vital to Africa’s ability to combat shortages of food, while the British quality press decries what it calls ‘unsustainable’ population growth in countries such as Nigeria. More broadly and more importantly, the US State Department, USAID, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Britain’s own Department for International Development quietly spend billions on what they delicately call ‘family-planning’ in Africa.
Indeed, in global family-planning, Britain is the world’s second largest direct (‘bilateral’) donor. Britain has also upped its overall investment in overseas family-planning from £180 million to £225 million a year from now until 2022, and is easily the largest donor to the UNFPA (£100 million a year).
All these bodies trumpet what appear to be noble causes: a planet where every pregnancy is wanted, a woman’s right to choose, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s empowerment. …
Worse, what the media politely refer to as ‘the international community’ stigmatises the African masses – and, in the first place, African men – for Africa’s economic backwardness. Our population warriors don’t blame Western (and now Chinese) banks, multinationals or governments for Africa’s poor economic development. They don’t even much blame despotic African regimes. No, they start from a heavily or purely demographic vision of Africa’s future. As a consequence, in their view the ‘choice’ they offer African women, of whether or not to use contraception, can and should be resolved in only one way.
… What’s more, such programmes are more about propaganda than practicalities. Since 2012, the UK has helped fewer than 8.5 million women around the world get access to modern methods of contraception – a drop in the ocean.
What are the motives of Western-style ‘family-planning’ in Africa? They are to divert its economic course and prevent it from competing with Europe and North America. They are also to do with EU member states’ squeamishness about more African immigration. But today, any rationale will do in the noble crusade to stop African families each having ‘seven or eight children’, as French president Emmanuel Macron has notoriously put it. For instance: a nervous Guardian says that ‘some experts worry that rampant population growth in Africa will not just aggravate the current migration crisis but could play into the hands of terror groups across the Sahel who seek recruits among large, poor families with few options’.I don’t doubt that, deep down inside, Bill Gates (who is a very smart guy) thinks like Prof. Woudhuysen alleges he does. But wouldn’t it be better if we had a climate in which the second richest man in the world had the freedom to explain what’s worrying him about African population growth, instead of occasionally delegating his wife to explain to the media their latest triple bankshot plan to help moderate African population growth without mentioning that that’s what they are trying to do?
Nice. Apparently, then, we need to repress African reproduction if we are to repress African terrorism.
Of course, our liberal friends are upset that Donald Trump, in a concession to anti-abortion Catholics in America, has refused to go on funding the UNFPA, has proposed to end US family-planning overseas, and has demanded that any global health body receiving US funds sign a pledge not to promote abortion (the ‘global gag rule’). But so what? Donald or no Donald, Western ‘family-planning’ in Africa is an insult to that continent’s independence, its economic advance, and its families.
James Woudhuysen is visiting professor of forecasting and innovation at London South Bank University.