Rural development up, population down, to end poverty (JUL)

14 February 2009

Media Releases 2009

Jul 11, 2001 for World Population Day – July 11

Helping the world’s poorest people to escape from poverty lies in rural development programs and slowing population growth, according to Sustainable Population Australia inc (SPA).

While more people are being fed adequately today, the numbers of the poor and malnourished has risen, with over 800 million people having insufficient food to meet their daily requirements. In 64 of 105 countries studied by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), population has been growing faster than food supplies.

National President of SPA, Dr Harry Cohen, said today that many of the small-scale agricultural producers in these countries are women.

“If we can give them access to credit, markets and technical advice, as well as education and health care, we could improve their food supply and help them escape from poverty,” he says.

Dr Cohen said that often the never-ending cycle of pregnancies, birth and child-care, often combined with malnutrition, meant rural women did not have time or energy to take advantage of new agricultural technologies.

“So not only should rural development projects be directed at women who are the main producers, they should include education, contraception and reproductive health care. This would allow women to limit or space their births and thereby free them to improve food production and nutrition,” he says.

Dr Cohen says 350 million women, mostly in developing countries, lack access to family planning facilities.

“It is critical that population growth is slowed because population pressures have already degraded two billion hectares of land world-wide, an area as big as the United States and Canada combined, ” he says.

“In addition, demand for freshwater from expanding cities and industry is limiting supplies for agriculture. Both land degradation and shortage of water will limit future food production.”

Dr Cohen says that in April this year, Gaylord Nelson, now aged 84 and the founder of Earth Day, when asked what is the number one environmental problem facing the earth today, said: “If you had to choose just one, it would have to be population. . . . The bigger the population gets, the more serious the problems become. . . . We have to address the population issue.”

Further information:

Dr Harry Cohen, Ph(h): 08 9386 5268 Ph(mobile): 0407 426 987

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E:


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