SPA recently had the honour of interviewing Chidera Benoit, the Founder and Executive Director of Population Explosion Awareness Initiative, published in our November 2023 Newsletter. PEA Initiative are an indigenous Nigerian non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the exponential rate at which our population is growing and advocating for non-coercive population control through family planning and socio-cultural reengineering.
We are pleased to share our conversation with Chidera below.
SPA: Tell us a little about yourself, including your environmental concerns, your passions, and what drives you.
Chidera: I am an advocate for non-coercive population control through creating awareness, family planning, women’s rights and socio-cultural reengineering. That’s why I founded PEA Initiative, a native Nigerian NGO dedicated to creating awareness about the exponential population growth in Nigeria.
My passion for my work was birthed during a deep thought session about the quality of life of many ordinary Nigerians and Africa in general. I am deeply concerned about climate change which portends grave consequences for humanity if things are left to deteriorate further.
SPA: Tell us about the history of PEA Initiative. What are some of your key campaign projects?
Chidera: The objective of the organisation, founded in 2020, is to be the frontline organisation to bring population talks to the front burner of national discourse and to lead the way in promoting small families within the Nigerian society and beyond.
Some key campaign projects:
- CSE Workshop in Nigerian Schools: Here, with age appropriate materials, we promote comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents in Nigerian secondary schools.
- Population Talks with NYSC Members: National Youth Service Corps is a one-year mandatory program that every Nigerian graduate undergoes. We engage them through lectures on the topics of population, family planning, women’s rights and the environment so they can make informed choices as they start a family.
- Radio Ads: With effective radio ad campaigns we encourage family planning and small families. We hope to drive a social behavioural change towards choosing smaller families.
- Live Radio Talk Shows: We go on live radio talk show where we discuss population, family planning, women’s rights and climate change
SPA: What are some of the unique or specific issues facing Nigeria, with regard to population sustainability, demographics and local environmental issues?
Chidera: Nigeria is currently battling with dire socio-economic situations. The National Bureau of Statistics announced in 2022 that about 133 million Nigerians are living in multidimensional poverty. This is why basic rights like education and healthcare have become luxuries. We have about 20 million out of school children and our population is currently growing by 2.41 percent per annum. The exponential population growth rate is exerting pressure on social infrastructure. Currently, the housing deficit is around 28 million housing units which is why there is a galloping inflation in rent across Nigerian cities. Massive traffic is also building up across cities due to population growth as more green areas are cleared for housing.
Nigeria is a beautiful country with beautiful people but it has been impacted by a succession of bad leaders. I realised that despite the bad governance, reproductive choice of individuals within our borders can make generational impact on the family’s quality of life. Learning about Nigeria’s projected massive population growth got me to realise how the numbers are connected to the rate of environmental exploitation. Overpopulation and overconsumption are two sides of the same coin that drive the impacts that lead to climate change. We all need to do our part to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
SPA: What are the mainstream attitudes toward population sustainability in Nigeria and Western Africa more broadly?
Chidera: Population has been a controversial topic in Nigeria. The controversy around the topic of population is influenced by politics and the quest for regional dominance. Historically, there has been this loud silence on population topics for years – people avoided it or didn’t just care about it. But recently, more Nigerian youth have become aware of our population especially for the fact that Nigeria is the most populous black nation. In this era of social media, the Nigerian youth take pride in announcing to others about the potentials they possess for their social media presence. But with the massive increase in numbers comes other socio-economic challenges like unemployment, poverty, migration and further environmental exploitation.
SPA: What role can Australia play with regard to global population sustainability globally? Should we be doing more to provide foreign aid to for family planning and reproductive health care initiatives?
Australia can support grassroot organisations that mobilise for increased access to family planning, especially in the Global South where growth projections are exponential. Support can be provided through funding and capacity building. Increased awareness can make great impact and see more people embracing family planning in areas where acceptance has been low.
Providing foreign aid for family planning and reproductive health to countries with big numbers of unmet needs will make all the difference.
With SPA, we hope to run some collaborative projects sometime.
You can find out more about Population Explosion Awareness Initiative on their website or connect through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This interview was originally published on page 9 of our Newsletter November 2023 edition.