Page 1

The Reporter



September 2008 VOL. 40, ISSUE 3

Growing Needs, Shrinking Fields

from the president

hen I knew Charles Shaw,

cause, population growth and a lack of

ous claim that there is plenty of food

he was rounding out a dis-

affordable family planning often play

for everyone—that it’s just a distribu-

tinguished career by serv-

major roles. We need to help fill the

tion problem. I guess one could also

ing as editor of a small town weekly,

family planning gap. In 2009, we must

claim that miners trapped thousands of

The New Hope (PA) Gazette.

convince the new Congress and a new

feet below the earth need not suffo-


During World War II, he was one of “Murrow’s Boys.” Incidentally, Mary Marvin Breckinridge, the first woman

president to step up and do the right

cate since there is plenty of oxy-



In that West African nation of

A silly analogy, perhaps, but one

broadcaster on the CBS Radio

Cameroon, which sent us a sliver of

intended to expose the folly of those

Network, was also one of those

foreign aid 77 years ago, two dozen

who bloviate about “distribution”


people died earlier this year in riots

while millions go hungry in crowded

Stationed in London alongside the

triggered by rampant food shortages.

places such as Cameroon. And Haiti.

likes of Eric Severeid and Howard K.

Women there have an average of 4.7

And Pakistan. Also Kenya, Yemen,

Smith, Shaw followed the great

children. Cameroon’s population is

Niger, Guinea, Laos, and Senegal. All

Edward R. Murrow’s example of

expected to nearly double in the next

are among the fifty poor nations where

unflinching coverage of hard news. In

42 years, making a terrible situation

women still have an average of more

the fifties, Shaw took on the execrable

even worse.

than four, five, six—even

Sen. Joe McCarthy even before Murrow did. Shaw recalled his early years as a

Although blessed with considerable natural resources, Cameroon suffers

seven—children. The U.S. should “double the

from a population explosion. Not that

money” for international family plan-

journalist when an editor removed an

you’d know it by reading the papers. A

ning to one billion dollars annually.

obituary reference to death by starva-

Google news search reveals a whop-

This would cost the average American

tion. During the Great Depression, it

ping eight references to population

an extra $1.77 per year. Still, one bil-

was not acceptable to report that

growth in Cameroon so far this year.

lion dollars is a lot of money. It’s con-

Americans were starving to death.

By contrast, the latest doings of that

siderably more than the good-hearted

Millions went hungry during that

peripatetic “celebutante,” Paris Hilton,

$3.77 donation that Cameroon sent

period. Some of them died—a fact that

garnered an impressive 6,380 news

our way.

was glossed over or covered up.

clips during the same period. Such, I

In 1931, Cameroon donated $3.77 to help ease America’s hunger crisis. A trivial amount perhaps. But $3.77 can

“Doubling the money” for family

suppose, is life in our jaded, gilded

planning seems like a reasonable


investment. It could help stave off

Every now and again, widespread

hunger and starvation—while also

mean the difference between life and

famine makes the headlines. But food

helping us avoid an even more crowd-

death when you don’t have a

insecurity and the specter of starvation

ed future on this small planet.

dime—or even a stale slice of bread.

haunt millions every single day. Mostly,

Then, as now, we had a president who

it’s in places with soaring population

just didn’t get it.

growth—places where people gnaw on

Alas, starvation isn’t just some distant memory of a bygone age. It hap-

dirt biscuits to stave off hunger. See Krista Hozyash’s article on page eight

pens 25,000 times a day somewhere

to learn more about the facts behind

around the world, according to the UN.

“dirt biscuits.”

While food scarcity is the obvious

Time and again, I’ve heard the fatu-

John Seager john@popconnect.org

Volume 40, Issue 3 September 2008 Cover image credit on Pg. 4

Pg. 8 Population and Food Security By Krista Hozyash

Pg. 12 Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water By Andrew Martin

Pg. 16 Men Gone Wild? The politics of population control By Duff Gillespie

Pg. 21 Islamic Leaders Promote Modern Family Planning By Natalie Widel





18 Washington View


In the News

20 Field & Outreach


Editor’s Note

22 Pop. Ed.


Book Review: The Dominant Animal

24 Remark

Printed on recycled paper

Lack of a sustainable energy source forces 80% of households in India to use firewood for their main cooking fuel. In poor households, 80% of energy consumption is used for cooking. Inter Press Service In India, a country growing by 3.5 million people a year, only 22% of forest cover remains. UNEP


A woman cooks at home in India. Photo: CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare

Each day, 25,000 people die of hunger.


In the next half century Africa will have twice the population growth rate of any other region. This means that more and more land must be devoted to agriculture, but as the amount of available land is limited, the amount available per person is swiftly shrinking. The atlas points out that in 1950 there were 13.5 hectares of land per person in Africa, but by 1990 this had shrunk to 4.7 hectares per person and by 2005 to 3.2 hectares per person—while on present population growth estimates, by 2050 the amount will be 1.5 hectares per person. The Independent, regarding the UN’s African atlas of environmental change


The Reporter — September 2008

A report by the Rights and Resources Initiative said that unless agricultural productivity rises sharply, new land equivalent in size to 12 Germanys will have to be cultivated for crops to meet food and biofuel demand by 2030. Virtually all of it is likely to be in developing countries, principally land that is currently forested. Reuters

Pasture and crops take up 37% of the Earth's land area. UNESCO

Agricultural fields in the Philippines. Photo: Manuel P. Rosario, Courtesy of Photoshare www.popconnect.org

September 2008 — The Reporter


In the News Volume 40, Issue 3 September 2008

tion and another 25 million occur as a result

A new and disturbing breed of pharmacy is

of using contraception incorrectly.

cropping up around the country, one that

Joy Phumaphi, Vice President for Human

Managing Editor Marian Starkey

refuses to carry contraceptives and therefore

Development, said that this information is

cannot fill prescriptions for birth control of

especially critical in the face of climate

Contributors Brian Dixon, Kira Doar, Duff Gillespie, Rebecca Harrington, Krista Hozyash, Andrew Martin, John Seager, Marian Starkey, Natalie Widel

any sort. Supporters of these limited drug

change and rising food and energy prices.

Graphic Artist Marian Starkey

Population Connection Overpopulation threatens the quality of life for people everywhere. Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth’s resources. The Reporter (ISSN 0199-0071) Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037 Phone: 202-332-2200 or 1-800-767-1956 Fax: 202-332-2302 Email: info@popconnect.org Website: www.popconnect.org Board Chair Patricia Burke President John Seager Cover: A woman holding a child looks into a bag of food relief after it was air dropped in the Olilim camp for Internally displaced people in the Lira District of Northern Uganda, October 19, 2007. The UN food agency said October 18 that food airdrops that started four days earlier have saved up to 250,000 war displaced people from starvation after bad roads halted delivery of food items for almost three months. Alix Loriston, the World Food Programme Deputy Country Director, said in an interview that the operation has so far dropped 143 metric tones of food to IDP camps in Kitgum district after roads linking them to the rest of the country were washed away by floods following torrential rains that have hit the region. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images


“Pro-Life” Pharmacies

The Reporter — September 2008

stores believe that pharmacists should be

"Giving women access to modern contra-

able to act on their conscience rather than

ception and family planning also helps to

the needs of the customer. John Bruchalski,

boost economic growth while reducing high

Board Chair of Divine Mercy Care in Fairfax,

birth rates so strongly linked with endemic

Virginia, said, “We’re trying not to leave our

poverty, poor education, and high numbers

faith at the door.”

of maternal and infant deaths."

Several states, including California, New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington, have adopt-

“World Bank urges more focus on contraception,” Reuters, July 10, 2008, www.reuters.com/article/ email/idUSN0937238520080710

ed laws requiring pharmacies to fill all pre-

Last Shenanigans in Office

scriptions or help fill them elsewhere.

In August, President Bush proposed a

Virginia does not have such a law and is not

deceitful rule, ostensibly to protect health

considering adopting one.

workers from performing services—namely,

Aside from the humiliation women could

abortion—that they find unethical. Of con-

face upon being denied their medications,

cern though is that the rule is broad enough

“pro-life” pharmacies pose a serious prob-

that some popular forms of contraception

lem for women in rural areas who live far

could be interpreted as abortion.

from an alternate pharmacy. “We may find

Current policy already states that health

ourselves with whole regions of the country

care workers have the right not to perform

where virtually every pharmacy follows

abortions as long as they refer patients else-

these limiting, discriminatory policies and

where. The new regulation would also allow

women are unable to access legal, physi-

employees to refuse to fill prescriptions for

cian-prescribed medications,” said R. Alta

contraceptives. The draft regulation might

Charo, a University of Wisconin lawyer and

void laws in 27 states that require insurance


companies to cover birth control. It might

Stein, Rob, “'Pro-Life' Drugstores Market Beliefs” Washington Post, June 16, 2008, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/ 2008/06/15/AR2008061502180.html

World Bank Speaks Up A new World Bank report released just before World Population Day details the importance of reducing unintended pregnancies and encourages more focus on family planning in the developing world. New data show that 51 million unplanned pregnancies occur because of lack of contracep-

also deny federal funding to clinics and states that require employees to perform this vital function of their jobs. Stein, Rob, “Protections Set for Antiabortion Health Workers” Washington Post, August 22, 2008, www. washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/ 08/21/AR2008082102818.html?hpid=moreheadlines Stein, Rob, “Birth Control Fears Addressed” Washington Post, August 9, 2008, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ article/2008/08/08/AR2008080802978.html “Redefining abortion,” Houston Chronicle, August 10, 2008, www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/ 5935532.html

Egyptian Campaign

vCustomer to launch a call center for coun-

Egypt’s government, led by President Hosni

seling on family planning and reproductive

Mubarak, has ramped up efforts to stabilize

health. Doctors complain that patients are

population in the largest Arab nation in the

ill-informed on these matters and the gov-

world. The fertility rate has been stagnant at

ernment believes that giving them the infor-

3.1 children per woman for the past ten

mation they lack will help achieve popula-

years and growth remains high at about

tion stabilization.

2%. The government prefers, however, that couples have only two children.

"Giving women

Sanjay Kuman, CEO of vCustomer, said of

access to modern

the program, “This partnership has give us a

contraception and

Already one-fifth of the population lives

chance to support JSK (National Population

on less than $1 a day. Economic growth has

Stabilization Fund) by providing continually

not been strong enough to enlarge the mid-

superior call center services to reach a wider

also helps to

dle class. A new slogan reads, “Before you

audience and to promote the extremely sen-

boost economic

add another baby, make sure his needs are

sitive and critical issue of population stability


in India.”

Egypt rarely receives rain and must therefore rely on the waters of the Nile, of which the country is already using more than its

“Call Centre to Provide Counselling on Reproductive Health/Population” United News of India, June 10, 2008, http://news.webindia123.com/ news/Articles/India/20080610/970704.html


Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (National Population Stabilization Fund), viewed site on July 29, 2008, http://jsk.gov.in/callcentre_inauguration.asp

“Egypt Fights to Stem Population Growth,” Reuters, July 2, 2008, www.alertnet.org/thenews/ newsdesk/L22709300.htm

Baby Boomlet

India Pays Couples to Wait Couples in 150 high-risk districts can receive Rs 5,000 (about $117) for waiting to marry until the girl is at least 19 years old. If the couple waits until they are 21 to have a child, they can receive another Rs 5,000 for having a boy and Rs 7,000 ($164) for having a girl. The Population Foundation of India launched the program to encourage young role models and hopes that others will follow their lead. Currently, 61-65% of women in 18 Indian states get married before age 18. “Plan Your Family, Make Money,” Hindustan Times, June 15, 2008, http://in.news.yahoo.com/ hindustantimes/20080616/r_t_ht_nl_general/tnlplan-your-family-make-money-7244580_1.html

Indian Call Centers The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has partnered with private corporation www.popconnect.org

In 2007, the United States broke its own record for largest number of births in a year. Detailed statistics are not yet available, but the National Center for Health Statistics did report that 4,315,000 births occurred, slightly more than the number in 1957, at the height of the baby boom. Demographer Arthur Nelson attributes the

family planning

growth while reducing high birth rates so strongly linked with endemic poverty, poor education, and high numbers of maternal and infant deaths." Joy Phumaphi, World Bank

increase to women who delayed childbearing to their forties now giving birth, larger numbers of women in their twenties and thirties, and higher immigrant fertility. The number of births to American women increased 3% in 2006 from 2005 figures, the largest single-year increase since 1989. In 2006, the fertility rate was 2.1, the highest since 1971. Jayson, Sharon, “Is this the next baby boom?” USA Today, July 17, 2008, www6.lexisnexis.com/ publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument &orgId=574&topicId=100020416&docId=l:8235151 62&isRss=true September 2008 — The Reporter


editor’s note

ore than 140 nations around the world observed

on crop production. The map that compliments the article is

World Population Day on July 11 . This year’s

especially telling.



theme was “Family Planning: It’s a Right; Let's

Krista Hozyash contributed the other piece about food.

Make it Real.” While countries from Jordan to Tanzania to

She is a master’s student at Duke University, studying envi-

Pakistan celebrated by renewing commitments to national

ronmental management and specializing in the ecology of

population policies, the United States had no such policy to

food systems. Through the generous contribution of long-

reaffirm. Perhaps we bought the hype that it’s a great thing

time members, Fred and Alice Stanback, she and three other

to be a country with replacement-level fertility, even if a

young women were able to join us as interns from Duke for

third of the births here are unintended. But with a popula-

eleven weeks this summer. Krista’s expertise in agriculture

tion on track to exceed 400 million by mid-century and the

and environmental challenges was a great help as we drew

price of housing, food, and gas continuing to rise, my guess

the links between the food crisis and population growth.

is that most Americans wouldn’t mind if this place didn’t get any more crowded than it already is. Actually, the U.S. “commemorated” the 20th anniversary

As world population grows, cropland per person shrinks. In fact, per capita cropland peaked in 1981 when there were just 4.5 billion people on the planet. Although farmers

of World Population Day by withholding funding from the

are being forced to destroy forests at an alarming rate to

UN Population Fund for the seventh consecutive year,

increase agricultural lands, they cannot clear trees fast

bringing the agency’s total loss to $235 million. Every year

enough to compensate for our growing numbers.

since the Bush Administration took office, Congress has

Ethiopia is perhaps the country worst hit by the price

appropriated funding for UN family planning programs. And

spikes, with an estimated 14 million people needing imme-

every year since 2002, Bush has withheld it. Will our next

diate food aid. Ethiopia’s population has grown substantially

president renew our commitment to the international

over recent decades, from 18 million in 1950 to over 80 mil-

agency that prevents millions of unintended pregnancies

lion today. With a population growth rate of 2.51% and a

every year? Will he support women to make their own deci-

fertility rate of more than five children per woman, the pop-

sions about their childbearing?

ulation will continue to grow rapidly, obfuscating all efforts

Rather than waste time voting on bills that would only be vetoed by Bush, in 2008 Congress focused on lining up sup-

toward food security. Expanding family planning programs, including education

port so that when a new president is inaugurated, quick

and outreach, must be part of the long term solution to the

changes can be made with the stroke of a pen. It was this

food crisis. After all, if we can’t feed all 6.7 billion people

lack of votes that led us not to produce our annual report

alive today, how will we feed nine, ten, or twelve billion in


the coming decades?

Skipping the Congressional Report Card this year gives us room for two thoughtful and informative pieces about population growth and food security. On the international radar for several months now, everyone seems to have a different take on who or what is to blame for the crisis and what should be done about it. Few journalists have been bold enough to mention the most obvious factor of all: increasing numbers of mouths to feed. Andrew Martin is an exception and we have reprinted his article from The New York Times. Martin clearly makes the connections between population growth and water scarcity and the resultant strains placed 6

The Reporter — September 2008

Marian Starkey mstarkey@popconnect.org

Book Review By Marian Starkey

“A burgeoning human population, perpetually trying to increase its consumption, is now reshaping the entire Earth to suit its own immediate needs—to be its niche. Homo sapiens has become the dominant animal on the planet, changing the climate, the land surface, the depths of the oceans, the global distribution of organisms, and the chemical composition of the biosphere at an accelerating rate. People grow crops on about 12% of Earth’s land surface, have paved or built on another couple of percent, graze their livestock on 25% or so more, and in various ways exploit most of the roughly 30% that remains in forests or tree farms. It is only the remaining surface in high mountains, under ice, or in the extreme desert that human beings have not extensively exploited.” that occurs over time. Melting ice in

cut down, more traffic jams, and more

successful at reproducing

the Arctic doesn’t seem as pressing as

extensive and intensive agriculture.”

compared with other large

the leaky faucet, so it is ignored.

hy have humans been so


mammals? What about people made it

The chapter “The Ups and Downs of

And yet, somehow the book maintains a positive tone. Anne and Paul

possible for us to take over every eco-

Populations” is Demography 101 in

are inherent optimists who wouldn’t

logical system on the planet? What

prose. An excellent resource for any-

otherwise bother working so hard on

might be the consequences of our

one wanting a straightforward expla-

these issues. They convince the reader

planetary domination? Paul and Anne

nation of demographic terms and cal-

that with a little political gravitas, the

Ehrlich answer these and many other

culations, this chapter paves the way

future of our unique and precious

questions in their newest book, The

for much discussion of population in

planet could be saved. But they also

Dominant Animal.

later sections.

warn what will come of a business-as-

The story begins in high school biol-

The authors describe a world one

ogy class with a helpful review of how

pressed button away from nuclear war,

our genes work to select for different

with food and water shortages, disas-

usual approach. “A product of evolution ourselves, shaped by the environments of our

characteristics that aid in survival. It

trous climate changes, massive species

past, we have attained dominance by

really gets interesting, however, when

extinctions, and little political will to

increasing our numbers, diverting

the authors delve into the cultural evo-

change things.

resources, and reshaping the world’s

lution that organized people into soci-

“Even though virtually every envi-

environments to sustain our huge, still

eties, pushed them to specialize in dif-

ronmental and social problem national-

growing population. That dominance

ferent critical occupations, and helped

ly and globally is exacerbated today by

has now led to a progressive destabi-

them ignore the slow changes in the

continued population growth, the topic

lization of the global systems that sus-

environment that could eventually kill

of human numbers is absent not only

tain us.”


from policy discussions in the United

The Ehrlichs theorize that habitua-

States but also largely from public dis-

tion to the environmental backdrop

course. You don’t need to be a rocket

helped our ancestors react more quick-

scientist to see that increased popula-

ly to immediate threats. This habitua-

tion size, all else being equal, means

tion now hinders progress at the policy

more greenhouse gases released into

level because it is too easy for voters

the atmosphere and thus more rapid

to ignore environmental destruction

climate change, more tropical forests


Island Press, 2008, Pp 440. US$ 35.00 ISBN 1597260967 Paul Ehrlich discusses population and The Dominant Animal: September 18, 2008 at the Wilson Center http://wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction =events.event_summary&event_id=459162 July 24, 2008 on Diane Rehm http://wamu.org/programs/dr/08/07/24.php #20644 September 2008 — The Reporter


Population and Food Security By Krista Hozyash, Stanback Communications Intern


eophagy: the practice of eating earth, especially chalk

exclaiming, “Does FAO bring 78.5 million babies into the

or clay in famine-stricken regions.

world every year?” The population growth factor, which so exasperates him, is exactly where we should focus develop-

For five cents, poor people in Haiti can eat any time they

ment aid if we want a sustainable solution to food shortages.

want. When they have hunger pangs, they turn to a cookie

The UN projects that depending on the global commitment

made from yellow mud, vegetable shortening, and salt. In

to family planning, there will be between 7.8 billion and 12

this crowded Caribbean nation where women have an aver-

billion people on the planet in 2050. Nearly all of this growth

age of four children each, people are eating dirt to stay alive.

will occur in developing countries. Lester Brown foresaw this in Outgrowing the Earth in 2004. “The continuing growth of population in resource-scarce, low-income countries is under-

HOW MANY ARE HUNGRY? Famine hasn’t affected the United States since the 1930s

mining future food security in many of them.”

Dust Bowl, but many developing countries continue to struggle with fickle climates, rapidly growing populations, and soil


erosion that make agriculture an unreliable endeavor. Millions

A perfect storm of circumstances collided to precipitate the

of people in such places suffer from chronic malnutrition—the

current food crisis. Farmers are dedicating a higher proportion

United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization

of their crops to biofuels. Severe droughts in Australia and East

(FAO) estimated in 2006 that 854 million people worldwide

Africa have damaged large swaths of crops. Oil prices have

were undernourished, 820 million of them in developing

increased the cost of shipping food long distances. A growing


middle class is demanding more grain-intensive meats. As

Average food prices have risen by almost 50% since the

prices began to rise, many countries placed export bans on the

last months of 2006, due to an assortment of factors. As a

food that they did have. Hidden behind these easily blamed

result, we’re currently facing the worst food crisis in a generation, one that is threatening to trigger famine around the world, in countries as far flung as Haiti, Egypt, and Timor-Leste. World Bank President Robert Zoellick is dismayed that rising food prices have pushed 100 million peo-

“The continuing growth of population in resourcescarce, low-income countries is undermining future food security in many of them.”

ple deeper into poverty. As a result, the world may have lost seven years in the fight against global poverty.

factors is the most obvious one of all: that the human popula-

Facing a deficit of $755 million this year due to the rising

tion is currently 6.7 billion and continues to grow by 78 mil-

price of food, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) called

lion people each year. Most of that growth is in the countries

on donor governments for help. Their request was met, large-

worst hit by the food shortage—those that cannot afford fer-

ly through a $500 million contribution from Saudi Arabia.

tilizers and irrigation to increase their own yields and also can-

Still, the WFP aims to feed only 70 million people in 2008, far

not afford to pay higher prices for imported food.

fewer than the total number hungry. In fact, ActionAid estimates that more than 950 million people are in need of food


Crop Dedication to Biofuels

aid this year. FAO general director Jacques Diouf defended

To fight global warming, many governments are subsidiz-

the agency’s helplessness in the face of the price spikes by

ing corn cultivation to produce ethanol that can replace fossil

The Reporter — September 2008

Two young San girls in Namibia carry sacks of famine relief food aid received from the Dutch Reform Church. Photo: Jessica Gordon (left); A girl in Cambodia sells insects as snacks to eat. Photo: Della Dash (top right); A Catholic Relief Services partner stands amidst bags of maize before food distribution in the Touloum refugee camp in eastern Chad. Photo: David Snyder/CRS (bottom right). All photos courtesy of Photoshare.

fuels for energy. This process drives up the cost of corn and

The Los Angeles Times wrote about the crisis in Ethiopia,

causes the price of other grains to increase as a result. Biofuel

“One of the biggest problems is population growth. Ethiopia,

crops are mainly grown in the United States, the European

with an estimated 80 million people, has doubled in size since

Union, and Brazil. Global biofuel production has more than

the mid-1980s. Simply put, the nation...has reached a point

tripled since 2000, increasing from 4.8 billion gallons to 16

where it can't easily grow enough food to meet its needs.”

billion gallons in 2007, but biofuels still account for only 3%

The Times (U.K.) agrees, “The first [cause of the food crisis]

of the global transportation fuel supply. The current food cri-

is Ethiopia's population explosion; with families averaging 5.4

sis has caused agronomists and policymakers to rethink the

children, it has soared from 33.5 million in the 1984 famine

merits of biofuels over other forms of alternative energy.

to 77 million now. In a country where 85 per cent of the people rely on farming for a living, this means that, per head,

Poor Conditions and Shrinking Cropland In Australia, rice and wheat production have decreased due

food production has actually fallen since 1984—by more than a third—and farm plots get smaller and smaller.”

to increased groundwater salinity and two record-breaking

Land is scarce, especially land suitable for cultivation. Only

droughts in the past seven years. In Ethiopia, drought this

about a third of the earth’s land surface is capable of growing

spring has caused 126,000 children to suffer from malnutri-

crops. Only around 11% of the total surface can currently be

tion and has left 10 million people requiring food aid until the

used for such purpose. And as the population grows, cul-

September harvest.

tivable land shrinks. The amount of land used for grain pro-


September 2008 — The Reporter


“Does FAO bring 78.5 million babies into the world every year?” –Jacques Diouf, Director of FAO duction peaked in 1981—as population has grown, cropland has been converted to housing developments, shopping malls, parking lots, etc... Paul and Anne Ehrlich remind us, “Farmers didn't settle first on poor soils where water was scarce, but rather in rich river valleys. That's where most cities developed, where rich soils are now being paved over for roads and suburbs, and where water supplies are being polluted or overexploited.” More Energy Intensive Diets Compounding the problem, consumption of foods higher on the food chain by a growing global middle class is adding to the rising demand. As countries like India and China develop economically and individuals gain more wealth, they tend to consume more resource-intensive foods such as meat and dairy products. Meat consumption in China has risen by over a third in little more than a decade. At the same time, China’s food production is decreasing. While diets rich in protein are more nutritious than those based on grain alone, the planet cannot support meat-based diets for 12 billion people. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) estimates that it would take more than five earths to support a world population that consumes resources at the same rate as the United States today. Stabilizing population is one critical piece of the food security puzzle that doesn’t require denying anyone her right to a better, healthier lifestyle.


A mule seeks shade in parched agricultural land between the capital of Addis Ababa and the town of Nazret, Ethiopia. This now barren landscape had been forest in the 1970s. Photo: John Robinette, Courtesy of Photoshare

This is not the first time the world has come together to stave off famine. During the 1960s, food production was increasing at a slower rate than world population growth.


International Commitments

Fear of widespread famine encouraged wealthy countries to

Beginning in the 1990s, the rate of population growth once

assist poorer ones by introducing new plant varieties, synthet-

again exceeded that of food production. Responding to the

ic fertilizers, and irrigation practices that improved crop yields.

reversal of the trend, the FAO convened the World Food

The Green Revolution pushed the rate of food production

Summit in Rome in November 1996. World leaders were con-

higher than the rate of population growth—for a short while.

cerned that the goals outlined at the World Food Conference

The only region of the world still amenable to a Green

in 1974 had not been met and felt that renewed enthusiasm

Revolution is sub-Saharan Africa. Sadly, irrigating and apply-

was needed. After meeting for several days, participants cre-

ing fertilizers to the highly eroded soils of the most populous

ated the Rome Declaration, which sought by the year 2015 to

countries in Africa is far beyond their budgets.

reduce the number of chronically undernourished people by

The Reporter — September 2008

half by 2015. The document stressed the importance of increased food production “within



of…early stabilization of the world population.” In 2000, although population growth wasn’t specifically addressed, a similar pledge became Millennium





Goals: to cut the proportion of hungry by half by 2015 from 1990 figures. Although the percentage of hungry people has decreased slightly, the number has increased by about 30 million (from 824 million in 1990), largely due to population growth. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a meeting convened by the FAO in June

These four children in Cameroon are from a family of nine, born to a third wife. Many families in the rural areas of Africa are not aware of, nor do they practice, family planning. Children are born without a plan for their care, and the rest is expected to somehow fit into place. However, sometimes children take matters into their own hands, such as the children shown here, who came up with a feeding plan of their own. They are having a midday meal of kernels and roasted grasshoppers, their improvised source of fats and proteins. Photo: Nomade, Courtesy of Photoshare

that worldwide food production must increase 50% by the year 2030 to curb the trend of

stretch that resource to the limit.” The demand for meat is

global instability. But worldwide, agricultural acreage per per-

projected to double by 2020, and total food consumption is

son is shrinking as populations rise.

projected to double by 2030. On a planet with a shrinking

“About three feet of topsoil represents the foundation of human civilization. The pressure of feeding a population of 9 billion people is likely to stretch that resource to the limit.”

amount of available arable land, meeting this demand is probably unrealistic. Rather than wait for disaster to strike, voluntary population stabilization offers a solution that would solve this and a host of other problems as well. According to Tim Dyson, Professor of Population Studies and agricultural production expert at the London School of Economics, “We tend to deal with what is happening now, today, tomorrow or next week, and insufficient attention is given to more fundamental processes such as population growth, or the need to invest in agriculture research for peo-

THE FUTURE OF FOOD The Financial Times recently wrote, “About three feet of topsoil represents the foundation of human civilization. The

ple living in difficult environments.” Eating dirt is no way for people to “deal” with hunger. It is far from being a long-term solution to food shortages.

pressure of feeding a population of 9 billion people is likely to www.popconnect.org

September 2008 — The Reporter


Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water By Andrew Martin, Reporting from Cairo Reprinted with permission from The New York Times, July 21, 2008


lobal food shortages have placed the Middle

by 2050. By that time, the amount of fresh

East and North Africa in a quandary, as they

water available for each person, already

are forced to choose between growing more

scarce, will be cut in half, and declining

crops to feed an expanding population or

resources could inflame political tensions fur-

preserving their already scant supply of


water. For decades nations in this region have

“The countries of the region are caught between the hammer of rising food prices

drained aquifers, sucked the salt from sea-

and the anvil of steadily declining water

water and diverted the mighty Nile to make

availability per capita,” Alan R. Richards, a

the deserts bloom. But those projects were

professor of economics and environmental

so costly and used so much water that it

studies at the University of California, Santa

remained far more practical to import food

Cruz, said via e-mail. “There is no simple

than to produce it. Today, some countries


import 90% or more of their staples. Now, the worldwide food crisis is making many countries in this politically volatile region rethink that math.

Losing confidence in world markets, these nations are turning anew to expensive schemes to maintain their food supply. Djibouti is growing rice in solar-powered greenhouses, fed by groundwater and cooled with seawater, in a project that produces what the World Bank economist Ruslan Yemtsov calls “probably the most expensive rice on earth.” Several oil-rich nations, including Saudi Arabia, have started searching for farmland in fertile but politically unstable countries like Pakistan and Sudan, with the goal of growing crops to be shipped home. “These countries have the land and the water,” said Hassan S. Sharaf Al Hussaini, an official in Bahrain’s agriculture ministry. “We have the money.” In Egypt, where a shortage of subsidized bread led to rioting in April, government officials say they are looking into growing wheat on 2 million acres straddling the border with Sudan.

Villagers irrigate their fields using a diesel pump, which has replaced the donkey-powered water wheel in this Nile Valley village in southern Egypt. Photo: Ben Barber, Courtesy of Photoshare

Economists and development experts say that nutritional self-sufficiency in this part of

The population of the region has more


The Reporter — September 2008

the world presents challenges that are not

than quadrupled since 1950, to 364 million,

easily overcome. Saudi Arabia tapped

and is expected to reach nearly 600 million

aquifers to become self-sufficient in wheat

production in the 1980s. By the early 1990s,

the 77 million squeezed

the kingdom had become a major exporter.

into an inhabited area

This year, however, the Saudis said they

roughly the size of Taiwan

would phase out the program because it

is a daunting prospect for

used too much water.

a country in which 20% of

“You can bring in money and water and you can make the desert green until either

citizens already live in poverty.

the water runs out or the money,” said Elie

One recent morning in

Elhadj, a Syrian-born author who wrote his

the Cairo slum of Imbaba,

PhD dissertation on the topic.

people crammed in front

Egypt, too, has for decades dreamed of

of a weathered green bak-

converting huge swaths of desert into lush

ery shack for their daily

farmland. The most ambitious of these proj-

rations of subsidized

ects is in Toshka, a Sahara Desert oasis in a

bread, a pita-like loaf

scorched lunar landscape of sand and rock

called baladi that sells for


less than a penny, so cheap that some

When the Toshka farm was started in 1997, the Egyptian president, Hosni

Egyptians feed it to their livestock. The bakery shares the end of a dead-end

Mubarak, compared its ambitions to building

street with a mountain of garbage, 25 feet

the pyramids, involving roughly 500,000

by 5 feet, that looks as if it is moving

acres of farmland and tens of thousands of

because so many flies swarm over it.

residents. But no one has moved there, and only 30,000 acres or so have been planted.

“Most people are really suffering, but what can they do?” asked Mohamed Faruk,

The farm’s manager, Mohamed Nagi

a 38-year-old grocery worker who moon-

Mohamed, says the Sahara is perfect for

lights as a bus inspector, as he carried nine

farming, as long as there is plenty of fertiliz-

loaves of baladi in newspaper.

er and water. For one thing, the bugs can-

Awatef Mahmud, a 53-year-old mother of

not handle the summer heat, so pesticides

five who sat on a nearby stoop waiting for

are not needed.

her bread to cool, said higher prices had led

“You can grow anything on this land,” he said, showing off fields of alfalfa and rows

to dietary changes for her family. “Instead of buying one kilo of meat every week, we

of tomatoes and grapes, shielded from the

buy a half a kilo,” she said. “People used to

sun by gauzy white netting. “It’s a very nice

buy pasta to make for their kids. But now

project, but it needs a lot of money.”

that it’s four and a half pounds,” she said,

Mr. Mubarak calls his country’s growing population an “urgent” problem that has exacerbated the food crisis. The population

referring to the currency, “they give them bread instead.” Economists say that rather than seeking to

grows about 1.7% annually, considerably

become self-sufficient with food, countries

slower than a generation ago but still fast

in this region should grow crops for which

enough that it is on pace to double by 2050.

they have a competitive advantage, like pro-

Adding 1.3 million Egyptians each year to

duce or flowers, which do not require much


A group of men work in a field in Zohra, Egypt, three hours by train south of Cairo on the Nile River. Photo: Amrita Gill-Bailey/CCP, Courtesy of Photoshare

The population of the region has more than quadrupled since 1950, to 364 million, and is expected to reach nearly 600 million by 2050. By that time, the amount of fresh water available for each person, already scarce, will be cut in half, and declining resources could inflame political tensions further. September 2008 — The Reporter


water and can be exported for top dollar.

Adding 1.3 million Egyptians each year to the 77 million squeezed into an inhabited area roughly the size of Taiwan is a daunting prospect for a country in which 20% of citizens already live in poverty.


The Reporter — September 2008

For example, Doron Ovits, a confident 39year-old with sunglasses pushed over his

water, and many believe that it serves as a viable model for other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

forehead and a deep tan, runs a 150-acre

Already, Tunisia has reinvigorated its agri-

tomato and pepper empire in the Negev

culture sector by adopting some of the desert

Desert of Israel. His plants, grown in green-

farming advances pioneered in Israel, and

houses with elaborate trellises and then

Egypt’s new desert farms now grow mostly

exported to Europe, are irrigated with treated

water-sipping plants with drip irrigation.

sewer water that he says is so pure he has to

The Israeli government strictly regulates

add minerals back. The water is pumped

how much water farmers can use and

through drip irrigation lines covered tightly

requires many of them to irrigate with treat-

with black plastic to prevent evaporation. A pumping station outside each greenhouse is equipped with a computer that tracks how much water and fertilizer is used; Mr. Ovits keeps tabs from his desktop computer. “With drip irrigation, you save money. It’s

ed sewer water, pumped to farms in purple pipes. It has also begun using a desalination plant to cleanse brackish water for irrigation. “In the future, another 200 million cubic meters of marginal water are to be recycled, in addition to promoting the establishment

more precise,” he said. “You can’t run it like

of desalination plants,” Shalom Simhon,

a peasant, a farmer. You have to run it like a

Israel’s agriculture minister, wrote via e-mail.

businessman.” Israel is as obsessed with water as Mr. Ovits is. It was there, in the 1950s, that an engineer invented modern drip irrigation,

Still, four years of drought have created what Mr. Simhon calls “a deep water crisis,” forcing the country to cut farmers’ quotas. Egypt, at least, has the Nile. Under a 1959

which saves water and fertilizer by feeding

treaty, the country is entitled to a dispropor-

it, drop by drop, to a plant’s roots. Since

tionate share of the river’s water, a point

then, Israel has become the world’s leader in

that rankles some of its neighbors. It has

maximizing agricultural output per drop of

built canals to bring Nile water to the Sinai

Desert, to desert lands between Cairo and

“The shade is not good for the plants,”

Alexandria and to the vast emptiness of

said Mr. Abdel-Rahman, who farms corn


and clover on a half-acre lot 20 miles from

For Saad Nassar, a top adviser in Egypt’s ministry of agriculture and land reclamation,

downtown Cairo. Five miles farther out, Talaat Mohamed’s

the country has little choice but to try to

three acres of sweet potatoes are squeezed

make the desert bloom, even in unlikely

between four-, five- and seven-story apart-

places like Toshka, which it says will eventu-

ment buildings like a jigsaw puzzle. A build-

ally succeed: all of Egypt’s farms and popu-

ing recently went up a dozen feet from his

lation are now crowded onto just 4% of its

field, with steel bars jutting from the foun-


dation and piles of gravel alongside.

“We don’t have the luxury of choosing this or that,” he said. “We have to work on every acre that is cultivatable.” Egypt is establishing an estimated 200,000 acres of farmland in the desert each year, even as it loses 60,000 acres of its best farmland to urbanization, said Richard Tutwiler, director of the Desert Development Center at the American University in Cairo. “It’s sand,” he said, referring to the reclaimed desert land. “It’s not the world’s most fertile soil.” As Cairo’s population has grown—to an estimated 12 million today—hastily constructed apartment buildings have sprouted among the fields. “They sow apartment buildings instead of wheat,” said Gideon Kruseman, a Dutch agriculture economist working with the government to improve farming there. For more than 5,000 years, farmers have

A government agriculture project along the banks of the Nile in Egypt. Photo: Sherrie Caltagirone, Courtesy of Photoshare

Mr. Mohamed, 60, routinely turns down eager land speculators because, he says, he

worked the land along the Nile and in the

loves working outdoors. But he complains

Nile Delta, the lotus-shaped plain north of

about all the time spent removing urban

Cairo where centuries of accumulated silt

detritus from his field, which on this day

have produced a deep, rich layer of topsoil.

included a maroon brassiere, soda cans,

They have endured drought, flood, locust

food wrappers, wads of indistinguishable

and pestilence. Now the scourge is development. For farmers like Magdy Abdel-Rahman, the new

plastic, a Signal toothpaste box and a black flip-flop. “The Egyptians invented farming,” he

buildings not only ruin the rural tranquillity

said, peering despairingly at a landscape of

of his ancient fields, with the constant ham-

electric wires and buildings, traffic and trash.

mering and commotion, but they also

“And this is what it has become.”

reduce his yields. www.popconnect.org

September 2008 — The Reporter



By Duff Gillespie, PhD, Population Connection Board Member and Professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

atthew Connelly’s dedica-

the mid-1980s, after which his

normative does not condone it, but

tion in Fatal

research becomes a bit thin. He

does increase our understanding of the

MisConception: The

includes a numbing number of cameo



Struggle to Control World Population

appearances by the famous, the infa-

makes clear his views on the world’s

mous, and the unknown. Although an

“Controlling Nations” and “A System

population: “to my parents, for having

occasional nugget of interest can be

Without a Brain,” Connelly describes

so many children.” The last of eight

found in the first part of the book,

how past quixotic attempts to control

children in a Catholic family, one can

most readers will find Connelly’s atten-

the world’s population coalesced into a

appreciate the author’s appreciation of

tion to minutiae a powerful narcotic.

“population movement” by the early

It is only towards the end of his

1970s. Led by larger-than-life person-

his parents’ fertility. Since Connelly candidly shares personal information, I

book that Connelly notes the danger-

alities, such as General William Draper

want to reciprocate. Like Connelly, I

ous distortions historians create by

and Robert McNamara, then head of

also come from a Catholic background,

viewing the past through the lens of

the World Bank, the movement spent

but that is all we have in common. My

the present. Knowing this danger did

“lavish” amounts of money on the

parents stopped at two children. I

not stop him from using 21st century

movement’s chosen instrument of pop-

spent 37 years working in international

spectacles to view the past. For exam-

ulation control: family planning.

family planning, which falls two years

ple, he condemns the male leaders of

Although the U.S. led this movement,

short of the number of years Connelly

the population control movement for

other western countries joined in the

has spent on this increasingly crowded

having few or no female participants in

“population control” effort. The move-

planet. For seven years, I led the

planning meetings, forgetting that until

ment was driven by the notion that

United States Agency for International

fairly recently women were excluded

there were too many people in the

Development’s (USAID) population

from most meetings in a male-domi-

South, and that further rapid popula-

program, which is roundly criticized by

nated society, and not just gatherings

tion growth not only hindered eco-


concerned with population. Women,

nomic and social development in the

and other non-white male groups,

South, but also posed a potential

were not deliberately excluded, since

threat to the tranquillity and wealth of

Connelly considers his book the first “global history of population control,”


In his emotively titled chapters

which, at various times and places,

this implies a conscious decision on the

the North. Political leaders in some of

encompasses eugenics, infanticide, pro

part of the white male leadership. At

the countries in the South shared many

natalist schemes, restrictive immigra-

the time, it would never have occurred

of the North’s concerns about rapid

tion policies, genocide, and family

to these men to include anyone else

population growth: in China, leaders

planning. His archival research exhaus-

other than white men. Noting that

instituted the one-child family pro-

tively spans the late 1800s through to

such offensive behavior in the past was

gram, and in India, Sanjay Gandhi was

The Reporter — September 2008

Belnap Press/Harvard University Press 2008. Pp 554. US$ 35.00 ISBN 0-674-02423-0

the mastermind behind the coercive

benefits family planning has had for

sterilization program.

maternal and infant health and the

A better title for these two chapters

empowerment women gain by being

is “Men gone wild.” Connelly portrays

able to control their fertility. Indeed,

the formative years of international

Connelly’s readers would have no idea

family planning as being led by an

that more than 50% of women in the

eccentric bunch of powerful, insensi-

developing world use contraceptives

tive, rich, and sometimes randy white

because they do know the benefits of

men running amok, hell-bent on keep-

spacing and limiting births.

ing non-white women from having

Connelly is not concerned that the

babies. Connelly gets a few things

$68 million. Forty years later, it crept

world’s population will increase from

right, but most things wrong. Like

up to $457 million ($100 million in

6.7 billion to over 8 billion in just

most development programs of that

1968 dollars). Meanwhile, the number

twenty years, and that virtually all of

era, family planning programs suffered

of women of reproductive age in

this increase will take place in the

from the ethnocentric views of donors;

developing countries grew from 600

developing world. He pronounces the

wasted resources; and the absence of

million to 1.4 billion. These paltry

population movement and its idée fixe

women in leadership roles. But, his

funding levels hardly give credence to

on population growth, dead.

unequivocal assertion that population

Connelly’s notion that the U.S. was

Fortunately, Connelly is again wrong.

control was a high priority of the pow-

determined to control the world’s pop-

In May, 2008, Michael Hayden,

erful North is laughable. Although he


Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence

cherry-picks his facts, Connelly cannot

Connelly’s sins of omission are many.

Agency, stated that population growth

convincingly make the case that gov-

His most grievous ones are ignoring

is the number one challenge of the 21st

ernments of the North mounted a seri-

the benefits of family planning,

century. His assessment is shared by

ous effort to control the population of

women’s desire to control their fertility,

many leaders, including most recently

the developing world.

and the reality that population growth

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and

does, indeed, pose serious problems.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

One of Connelly’s more bizarre asser-

And then there is Grandmother

lies organizations like the World Bank

tions is that family planning programs

Connelly who, remarkably, only once

to follow its lead. Contrary to

resulted in only a 5% reduction in the

exchanged harsh words with the

Connelly’s fantasy, we at USAID com-

world’s fertility rate. He fails to men-

author’s father when she expressed

plained about the shortage of money

tion the estimate, widely accepted by

disapproval of her son having eight

and the impotent McNamara’s inability

experts, that family planning explains

children. The author’s father asked his

to get his profamily planning rhetoric

over 40% of the reduction of more

mother which of his children she no

translated into budgetary and pro-

than two children per family in the

longer wanted. This cheeky question,

grammatic reality. Far from lavishing

past two decades. He ignores as well

of course, misses her point but seems

money on family planning, USAID’s

the fact that today the use of modern

to have established a tradition ably

population budget never amounted to

contraceptives averts more births in the

continued by the author.

more than the equivalent of a round-

developing world, around 195 million

ing error in the Department of

per year, than actually take place,

Duff Gillespie, dgillesp@jhsph.edu

Defense’s budget. 1968 was the first

roughly 125 million. Nor does Connelly

Reprinted with permission from The

year to see a double-digit budget of

acknowledge the well established

Lancet, August 2, 2008

Connelly describes USAID’s population program as a juggernaut that bul-


September 2008 — The Reporter


Washington View

2008 Congressional Report Card No votes this year, but plenty of other action By Brian Dixon, Vice President for Media and Government Relations

The Fall edition of The Reporter is our annu-

In the Senate, the rules allow any single

al Congressional Report Card issue. This

senator to place a hold on any piece of leg-

year, however, we decided not to publish

islation. The removal of those holds requires

one for the simple reason that Congress has

a significant time commitment to work

not taken any votes on any of the key issues

through various procedural hurdles. Then,

we generally track.

any senator can engage in a filibuster, an

The reasons that these votes have not

endless debate. Ending a filibuster takes 60

occurred are varied. Generally, most of the

votes in favor of a motion to invoke cloture.

votes we track occur on amendments to

To date, the Senate leadership has filed

appropriations bills. But the appropriations

more cloture motions than ever before in

bills have been stymied in both the House

history. The Majority Leader has said that he

and the Senate. To start, President Bush has

sees little point in going through all of these

essentially promised to veto any spending

hurdles since the President is refusing to sit

bill that Democrats in Congress support.

down and negotiate.

That led some leaders to suggest that they

Without votes, it wasn’t possible to put

simply pass a stopgap measure, called a con-

together a report card. That doesn’t mean,

tinuing resolution, to fund the government

though, that nothing has been happening.

at the same level and under the same poli-

In fact, in many respects it has set the stage

cies as exist today until a new president is

for 2009.

inaugurated. At the same time, the legislative process in both the House and the Senate has been


caught up in electoral politics. When the

Abstinence-Only Funding

House Appropriations Committee met to


The Reporter — September 2008

Our efforts to end federal funding of

consider the Labor, Health and Human

abstinence-only programs have met with a

Services and Education bill, the largest of the

generally positive response on Capitol Hill

domestic funding bills, the ranking

this year. The Senate Appropriations

Republican on the committee offered an

Committee approved legislation to cut fund-

entirely different bill as a substitute so that

ing for this nonsensical program by $28 mil-

he could force votes on offshore drilling. The

lion in 2009 as part of a plan to completely

chairman of the committee quickly

phase it out within five years. In the House,

adjourned the meeting and announced that

a subcommittee passed a bill to hold the

he had no intention of scheduling any more

funding steady—a significant improvement

markups since all the bills were likely to be

over last year when the panel increased

vetoed anyway.

funding by $28 million.

Title X Family Planning

The House Subcommittee voted to increase

INTERNATIONAL ISSUES Our “Double the Money” campaign has also

funding for Title X, the only federal program ded-

had early success. In both the House and Senate,

icated to providing subsidized family planning

committees called for significant new investment

and reproductive health services to low-income

in international family planning. While neither

American women, by more than $15 million.

bill reached the one billion dollar mark we’re seeking, both call for large increases from current

New Administration Rules

funding. The Senate Committee appropriated

In August, President Bush proposed a new

$540 million for international family planning,

regulation through the Department of Health

while in the House a subcommittee went even

and Human Services (HHS) that threatens to

further, calling for $600 million, the largest single

undermine state laws across the country that

increase in the history of the program.

guarantee women access to family planning, reproductive health, and contraceptives.

In another hopeful sign, both the House and Senate versions of the bill contained language

Under the guise of protecting health care

designed to restore U.S. funding to the United

providers from discrimination if they object to

Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). For the sev-

“abortion,” the new rule goes far beyond that.

enth consecutive year, President Bush declined

The proposed regulation calls for the withhold-

to release funds appropriated for the agency,

ing of all HHS funding to any entity that allows

citing the spurious claim that UNFPA supports

“discrimination” against any health care

coercive practices in China. In an effort to get

provider (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, etc.) who

around this blockade, the committees approved

refuses to participate in abortion. The truly

language in their bills that outlined the positive

egregious aspect of this proposal is that the lan-

attributes of the UN program, including the pro-

guage is vague enough to be interpreted to

vision of contraception, and directed that

include nearly all hormonal contraceptives as well

money be released for those specific activities.

as devices like IUDs.

Passage of this provision would make it impossi-

States that require insurance coverage of con-

ble for this or any future president to deny

traceptives, or that require pharmacists to fill

funds to UNFPA because of their presence in

birth control prescriptions could see all of their

China. Finally, the Senate bill also contained a

federal health funding cut off. Clinics that

provision repealing the notorious Global Gag

receive Title X funds, funds provided by

Rule, although the House did not follow suit.

Congress specifically to help improve access to

Overall, both bills were very pleasing to fami-

birth control, may be forced to hire staff who

ly planning proponents. And while the appropri-

refuse to dispense birth control.

ations process appears to have stalled for the

We worked with colleagues from other organizations to generate congressional response and

year, these increases and additions signal progress. With an eye toward a positive future,

helped garner well over a hundred signatures

we have been working hard to make sure that

from members of the House and more than two

both candidates for president understand why

dozen senators on letters of opposition to the

real investment in family planning is key to pro-

HHS Secretary, Michael Leavitt.

moting a stable and secure world.


September 2008 — The Reporter


Field & Outreach

We Can’t Grow on Like This

Reviving the District Activist Network Restoring an old program with new, enthusiastic volunteers By Rebecca Harrington, National Field Coordinator

Jacqueline Fincher, of Alpharetta, GA, a rep-

Craig is the South Bay coordinator of the

resentative for our newly revitalized District

California Clean Money Campaign, a non-

Activist Network (DAN), described a friend

partisan, non-profit group working toward

as the type of woman who “just keeps on

public financing for campaigns. Craig had a

knocking until someone opens the door.”

great letter to the editor in The New York

This perfectly depicts Ms. Fincher herself. A

Times about population last June.

former professor, Jacqueline is an eight-year Population Connection member and fre-

energetically represents us in the conserva-

quent participant in our Capitol Hill Days

tive district of Minnetonka, MN. Then again,

Program. She has also been a committed

Jay brings high energy to everything he

volunteer with the League of Women Voters

does, and that makes for a long list. Jay is

and the American Heart Association. In

president of Decorative Construction, Inc.

addition to her fine academic and profes-

and M.J. Shahidi Consulting Corporation. He

sional credentials, Ms. Fincher can claim

also heads the Iranian American Association

being a finalist in the Miss Alabama Contest

of Minnesota, an organization he cofound-

in 1955, as well as being Elvis’ dance partner

ed. Additionally, he’s done a great deal of

on two separate occasions!

work for the Minnesota United Nations

Originally created in 1997, the DAN is a recently revitalized program comprised of Population Connection members and advo-

from war-stricken areas. The DAN representatives will be responsible for completing one action per month.

come from a variety of geographical areas.

The first action, for August 2008, was for

We plan to “go slow” in building up the pro-

each DAN representative to garner support

gram to make sure we can work closely with

for our Double the Money campaign, for

every member. Our DAN representatives hail

the reestablishment of U.S. funding to

from districts with “friendly” legislators as

UNFPA, and for the repeal of the Global

well as places where the local member of

Gag Rule.

The new DAN’s first recruits are person-

The Reporter — September 2008

Association’s campaign to remove landmines

cates, referred to as “representatives,” who

Congress never supports our agenda.


Halfway across the country, Jay Shahidi

By the time the next Congress is gaveled into session in January 2009, the DAN will

able, and as diverse as the districts they rep-

be a smoothly operating network with

resent. Craig Dunkerley, a real estate broker

increased membership, whose representa-

from the liberal San Jose area, has been

tives are able to effectively lobby for the

involved in population activism since his days

issues most crucial to Population

as a student at San Jose State University.

Connection’s work.

awareness raising campaign to educate their 14 million

Islamic Leaders Promote Modern Family Planning B y N a t a l i e Wi d el , D e v e l op m en t As s i st a n t

Islamic religious leaders in Ethiopia express their support for modern family planning programs. Photo: Dr. Mengistu Asnake/Pathfinder International, Courtesy of Photoshare

followers about the benefits of family planning. They will tour all 45 provinces and 13 regions in an effort to “sensitize” and educate citizens. Yemen has one of the highest fertility rates in the world—6.2—and already imports 75% of its food. The National Population Council recently approved a plan to

ften in today’s

world, is the Islamic Republic

Muslim scholars point out

implement a national popu-

political climate,

of Iran. Population growth

that the Prophet

lation strategy to reduce the

Islam can summon

rates have been more than

Muhammad encouraged

growth rate. Religious and

images of subjugated, burka-

halved in conservative Iran

limiting family size, as God

community leaders will be

clad women, religious fanati-

through the implementation

did not want believers bur-

trained to address the issue,

cism, and extreme violence.

of a family planning program

dened by families larger than

and population studies will

These narrow, inaccurate

that rivals programs found in

they could properly support.

become part of the normal

depictions make it seem like a

progressive Western states.

world completely out of step

With full support of the

call from many Muslim lead-

versities. Additionally, the

with values of modernity and

Islamic clergy, Iran embarked

ers around the globe to limit

government and partnering


on a nationwide campaign

population growth, as rising

NGOs will work to provide

that includes access to free

food prices and water scarci-

free family planning services,

many outside the Islamic

contraception and mandato-

ty put pressure on govern-

pointing to the importance

world, therefore, when in

ry family planning counsel-

ments already straining

of combining education with

the run-up to this year’s

ing for newly married cou-

under tight budgets and


World Population Day, reli-

ples. As a result of these and

politically volatile conditions.

gious leaders in a number of

other innovative measures,

The Egyptian government is

Islamic leaders are working

Muslim-majority states

Iran’s fertility rate today is at

ramping up its 30-year cam-

with political leaders to take

issued calls for more wide-

replacement level.

paign to shrink family size

on the challenge of lowering

As noted, a large part of

further, below the current

fertility and ensuring a more

tices among their followers

Iran’s success was the coop-

fertility rate of 3.1. About

stable, prosperous future for

to curtail unsustainable pop-

eration and support of influ-

90% of the Egyptian popu-

their citizens. They strive to

ulation growth.

ential Islamic clergy.

lation is Muslim, and Islamic

be role models for other

Religious leaders declared

clerics there are generally

Islamic countries like

is that the region’s largest

that Islam is fully compatible

supportive of modern con-

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,

success story, and a model

with most modern family


which have persistently high

for family planning initiatives

planning methods, including

throughout the developing

voluntary sterilization. Many


It came as a surprise to

spread family planning prac-

Perhaps similarly surprising


Today, there is a renewed

Islamic leaders in Burkina Faso are embarking on an

curricula in schools and uni-

In each of these examples,

fertility and low contraceptive prevalence. September 2008 — The Reporter



Pop. Ed. Takes to the Hills Educators from all over California congregate in San Francisco to become new volunteer trainers or to refresh their skills as seasoned trainers By Kira Doar, Education Fellow

Take a short trolley ride from Fisherman’s

they needed to aid them in setting up and

Wharf, a stroll over the Golden Gate Bridge,

running future workshops of their own,

or a quick swim from Alcatraz, and you’ll

including our “dot” DVD (World

find yourself at the Fort Mason Center in

Population), bilingual and early childhood

San Francisco, where we hosted our most

lesson plans, and the Teaching Population

recent Population Education Trainer

CD with over 50 activities for grades K-12.

Leadership Institute. Pop. Ed. staff headed

Of course, since such an integral part of

west for the two-day institute in early

learning is doing, everyone spent lots of

August and hoped to strike gold for our

time up and out of their seats taking part in

Population Education Training Network with

the activities on the agenda. Pam

the 30 participating California educators.

Wasserman, Vice President for Education,

Participants joined us from all over the Bay

demonstrated more than a dozen activities

ulty represented the University of the Pacific,

over the course of the weekend that han-

San Diego State University, University of

dled a range of topics, including global

California at Irvine, and multiple California

resource distribution and consumption, pop-

State University campuses from Sacramento

ulation growth, and the education of

to Long Beach. Also joining the group were


elementary, intermediate, and secondary

One of our attendees, Elaine Gorman,

school teachers, as well as an educational

served as a valuable resource to her fellow

specialist from the Chaffee Zoological

educators. A science teacher from Modesto,

Gardens in Fresno and a researcher at the

Elaine joined the trainers network in 1995

California National Primate Research Unit at

and presents workshops at conferences and

University of California, Davis. All present

for pre-service groups. At our California

displayed great enthusiasm for learning

Institute, Elaine demonstrated the Earth: the

about population-related issues through our

Apple of Our Eye and Take a Stand activities

interactive, hands-on, and interdisciplinary

to the group, in addition to answering ques-

activities. And though training started early

tions and offering advice to others about

each morning, energy levels remained high.

setting up their own workshops from the

Throughout the weekend, the participants received information and helpful tips for


The Reporter — September 2008

and Carol Bliese, Teacher Training Manager,

Area and beyond. Attending university fac-

perspective of a trainer in our network. The Institute wrapped up with many par-

facilitating workshops for educators of all

ticipants sharing with us their eagerness to

grade levels. In addition to a hefty trainer

implement the Population Education activi-

handbook, attendees received all the tools

ties in their own classrooms, to present what

they had learned at upcoming educational conferences, and to be contacted with future training workshop opportunities. This California Institute was made possible by the generous support of several Bay Area Population Connection members who recognize and value the impact of the Population Education Program in raising awareness among K-12 teachers and students. If you’re interested in sponsoring a similar event in your area, contact Shelley O’Brien, Director of Development, or Pam Wasserman, Vice President for Education, at 1-800-767-1956.

Photos, clockwise from top left: Participants and staff at Fort Mason; Participants play Timber, an activity about supply and demand of natural resources; Elaine Gorman demonstrates Earth: The Apple of Our Eye; Sarah Strand displays her population pyramid drawing; Group creates a Millipede Stampede; Carol Bliese conducts Something for Everyone; Attendees create a "future wheel" showing different effects of population growth.


September 2008 — The Reporter




The Reporter — September 2008

The Japan Times It has been 40 years since world leaders proclaimed

At a time when the attention of the international com-

the fundamental right of individuals to plan their fami-

munity is focused on climate change and soaring food

lies freely and responsibly. Women, children, societies

prices, it is all too easy to overlook problems fueled by

and the Earth are suffering from the failure to make that

the world's rapidly growing population. It should be

right a reality.

remembered that the world will not be able to solve the

The positive impacts of family planning are well

problems of global warming and rising food prices

known on education, poverty and opportunity (for

unless it can slow its population growth. In 1987, the

women especially, but the whole society). But we sug-

world's population topped 5 billion; but in 20 years, it

gest that family planning has its most important role to

has swelled to 6.67 billion.

play in preserving the environment. Leaving aside the

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) esti-

considerable scholarly work that would stress population

mates that it will reach 9.2 billion in 2050—the 2.5 bil-

growth as an environmental challenge, common sense

lion increase being equivalent to the world's total popu-

suggests that some change in human population growth

lation in 1950. Of the increase, 1.2 billion will be in Asia

is vital to preserving the air, the water and the marvelous

and 1 billion in Africa.

diversity of wildlife and fauna of a healthy region, country and planet.

Women who are in poverty and in a wretched human rights situation tend to have unwanted pregnancies, con-

The United Nations Population Fund says world pop-

tributing to increased population pressure. In some

ulation will be 11.9 billion by 2050 if birth rates remain

developing countries, a population increase forces local

unchanged. Consider what we face with about 6.7 bil-

people to clear large areas of forest land to produce food,

lion people today. Food supplies are dwindling. Exotic

which in turn decreases the absorption of carbon dioxide

chemicals become new concerns. Global warming is on

by that forest.

a frightening course. More sensible family planning

Government leaders should realize that population

would help on every score, for people and the planet on

growth, poverty and environment problems, including

which they depend.

global warming, are interrelated. The UNFPA calls on all governments to ensure universal access to reproductive —Editorial Excerpt, July 10, 2008

health by 2015. The public sector and civil society need to enhance cooperation in this field so that "sustainable development" will be achieved. —Editorial Excerpt, August 12, 2008

One Way To Change The World We hope you’ll consider Population Connection as you plan your estate. Your bequest gift will help change the future for people and for our planet. You can also participate in other forms of planned giving. Charitable Gift Annuities provide guaranteed life income along with significant tax advantages. If you or your financial advisor have any questions, please feel free to contact Shelley R. O’Brien, Director of Membership and Development at 800-767-1956 or 202-332-2200. If you’ve already included Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in your estate plans, there is no need to change any language. We proudly maintain the name and the mission.

Population Connection 2120 L Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20037


Profile for Marian Starkey

September 2008  

Food scarcity

September 2008  

Food scarcity