According to UN estimates the world population will reach seven billion today. It’s a pretty big feat considering that we hit six billion a little over a decade ago and the world population at the birth of Christ was just two hundred million. To mark this milestone, Foreign Policy have put together a list of the seven fastest growing cities in the world and it turns out that the capital city of Yemen, Sana’a, is one of them.
Political Instability & Population Boom
It’s been a tumultuous year for Yemen, which has seen daily shellings and protests calling on the current president Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign. Even so, the capital city of Sana’a is witnessing a population boom with inhabitants now reaching 1.7 million people. Although the city is not the safest place to live, many choose to stay there as facilities are better in contrast to the rural areas of the country.
Yemen is believed to be one of the poorest nations on earth with many residents heavily dependent on money sent to them from relatives working abroad. Poor education and taboos against birth control also mean that the growth rate is at around 5 percent annually. Nearly half of all Yemenis live under the poverty line and more than 50% of children are said to be malnourished.
UNDP: Severe Water Shortages in Yemen
Tawakul Karman, who was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has spoken in the past about the need for better education and women’s right in the country.
As well as being economically poor, the country is also resource poor. There is a severe lack of water according to officials from the U.N. Development Program and dwindling oil supplies mean the country can’t afford to finance desalination like other richer Gulf nations. Indeed, Sana’a is on route to be the world’s first waterless capital.
Consumption vs. Population
Whilst the MENA region population is expected to rise from 423 million (2007) to 800-900 million by the end of the 21st century, there isn’t a direct link between our ability to deal with climate change and population numbers. As I have written in the past, mitigating climate change is more about dealing with the (unfair) consumption of the earth’s resources.
For example, one American produces the same emissions as 250 Ethiopians- as such it’s rather hypocritical for us to be asking others to limit families whilst we consume the same as a small African village. The issue is more about consumption and trying to make it fairer. As Tafline points out in another article, the earth does have the resources to feed even 10 billion people, we just need to stop wasting food and eating so much meat whilst other barely scrape together a meal a day.
:: Image via Island Spice/flickr.
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