Population and development in Nigeria

Population has its effects on development and mostly when its rate is increasing, underdevelopment occurs. High population growth especially in Nigeria Is a challenge for three major reasons. First, rapid population growth puts a lot of stress on ecosystems. Many different issues such as food security, land tenure, environmental degradation and water supply do have a demographic background. Civil strife is also often caused by population pressure on scarce resources. Secondly, rapid population growth impacts on the economy because governments need to provide human capital investments for their population –education, health, etc. When population grows too fast such investments become logistically and
financially very difficult to meet. In addition, rapid population growth may slow down the increase of income per capita. For example, if your economy expands at six percent per year but your population at three percent, your revenue per capita will expand

at only three percent. The third issue is linked to the health of women and their children as well as the status of women in society. Pregnancies that are too early, too late and too many are not conducive to good health outcomes.

The world’s most populous country is China with a population of 1,335,962,132 and takes a percentage of about of 19.84%. Other high populated countries are India, United States of America, Indonesia, Brazil, and Pakistan and so on… Nigeria is the eight (8th) most populous countries in the world and takes about 2.2% of the world’s population Nigeria’s population of 134.4 million inhabitants makes up approximately 50% of West Africa’s population of about 270 million inhabitants. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, the largest economy and by far the largest contributor to ECOWAS budget and peacekeeping efforts. Any instability in Nigeria is bound to have sub-regional repercussions.


Nigeria witnessed rapid urbanization since the oil boom of the 1970s. There were improvements in transportation and mobility. The country registered the fastest rate of urbanization in the world, but it did not translate into a better life for its population. By 1986 Nigeria had an estimated urban growth rate of 6% (more than twice that of the rural population) with the percentage of people living in urban areas estimated to have grown from 16% to 20%. By 2010, more than 40% of the population was expected to live in the urban centers, whereas this fi gure was
already 48% by 2006.

Fast growing urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially West Africa, is like climate change. It has been endlessly debated with no forceful solution proposed. Despite the many ordeals that come with unplanned or unmanaged urbanization, hardly anybody has been able to reverse the process. Africa has now the highest rate of urban growth in the world – four point four per cent against a global average of two point five per cent. Although the continent still has relatively few inhabitants living in cities, more and more people are moving from rural to urban areas – increasing the risk of violence and environmental degradation. If the current trend continues, two third of all Africans would be living in cities by the year 2020. Urbanization has occurred in nearly every part of the world. People move into cities to seek economic opportunities. In rural areas, and even more in afflicted sub-Saharan regions, it is diffi cult to improve one’s standard of living beyond basic sustenance. Farm living is dependent on unpredictable environmental conditions, and in times of drought, flood or pestilence, survival becomes extremely problematic. Wealth, in contrast, is concentrated in cities, as are businesses, which generate jobs and revenues.

Nigeria’s case is that of overpopulation. Overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. In common parlance, the term usually refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth. Overpopulation is not a function of the size or density of the population. Overpopulation is determined using the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. If a given environment has a population of ten, but there is food or drinking water enough for only nine, then in a closed system where no trade is possible, that environment is overpopulated; if the population is 100 individuals but there is enough food, shelter, and water for 200 for the indefinite future, then it is not.

Overpopulation can result from an increase in births, a decline in mortality rates due to medical advances, from an increase in immigration, or from an unsustainable biome and depletion of resources. It is possible for very sparsely-populated areas to be overpopulated, as the area in question may have a meager or non-existent capability to sustain human life. Urbanization is the process whereby a group of people migrating together (especially in some given time period). Whether due to natural causes (high birth rates) or through migratory movements (rural-urban exodus), the increase of population makes competing user-demands on land and other scarce natural resources. It also puts pressure on the environment and leads to social tensions among different interest groups. This is an age-old problem, common to all parts of the world. However, in the socio-economic context of West Africa, this demographic pressure represents a radical crisis of development and sustainability.


? Inadequate fresh water for drinking water use as well as sewage treatment and effluent discharge. Lagos state for example is the most populous state in Nigeria and has the persistent problem of inadequate water supply which has lead to the unhealthy living conditions. Unhygienic living conditions are therefore based upon water resource depletion, discharge of raw sewage and solid waste disposal.

? Increased levels of pollution; air, water, noise, soil contamination . Once a country has industrialized and become wealthy, a combination of government regulation and technological innovation causes pollution to decline substantially, even as the population continues to grow.

? Irreversible loss of arable land and increases in desertification. Deforestation and desertification can be reversed by adopting property rights, and this policy is successful even while the human population continues to grow. Parts of the north in Nigeria are currently suffering from encroachment of desert from the Saharan desert.

? High infant and child mortality. High rates of infant mortality are caused by poverty. Nigeria’s infant mortality rate is currently 100/1000 births. Comparing that figure with those of developed countries, it shows the growth of population has not created the chance for development of the health system.

? Increased chance of the emergence of new epidemics and pandemics. For many environmental and social reasons, including overcrowded living conditions, malnutrition and inadequate, inaccessible, or non-existent health care, the poor are more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.

? Starvation, malnutrition or poor diet with ill health and diet-deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). Famine is aggravated by poverty. Rich countries with high population densities do not have famine. About 70% of Nigerians live in rural areas and these regions are so underdeveloped that malnutrition has become a constant issue. With the pressure of population on the environment, there is a decline in both subsistence and export agriculture.
Consequently, parts of the sub-region face constant difficulty in feeding their populations adequately, including the high urban populations increasingly dependent for food on rural agriculture.

? Poverty coupled with inflation in some regions and a resulting low level of capital formation. Poverty and inflation are aggravated by bad government and bad economic policies. Many countries with high population densities have eliminated absolute poverty and keep their inflation rates very low.

? Elevated crime rate due to drug cartels and increased theft by people stealing resources to survive. Regions with high rate of population are posed to threats of high crime rates. Lagos state for example in the past years has increased had increase in crime rate.

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