Is Facebook down in Bangladesh

World population growth : The amazing development of Bangladesh

Most Germans only hear about Bangladesh in connection with negative news; many consider it poor, miserable, and hopeless. The most densely populated land is threatened with drowning due to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. It has taken in a million Rohingya refugees, but also talks about relocating many of them to an island threatened by flooding.

Reports of dire conditions in textile factories made the rounds again and again. The policy of Prime Minister Sheik Hasina has also been criticized again and again. Some say they turned the country into a "one-person state".

Hardly anyone in the general public has registered that the United Nations no longer wants to place Bangladesh in the category of Least Developed Countries (LDC), but rather upgrade it to the category of developing countries (DC).

And now the Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) even calls the development of the country with a view to the population development "sensational". 50 years ago women had an average of seven children there, today it is 2.1 as in European countries, said Müller on the occasion of the UN conference in Nairobi on Tuesday on Deutschlandfunk - and explicitly referred to the woman at the top of the country.

Here, too, he mentions the key words women's self-determination, equal rights, full access to education through to vocational training and a good health system.

The literacy rate of girls in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh has risen and maternal mortality has fallen. World Bank figures show that between the beginning of the century and 2018, poverty in the Asian country was reduced from 48.9 to 24.3 percent of the population, while the number of so-called extreme poverty fell from 33.7 to 12.9 percent.

Flagship program started in the 1970s

The World Population Foundation attributes this development to the so-called Matlab program in Bangladesh, among other things. As part of the program that the government started in the late 1970s, health workers visited villages in Matlab District, offering married women various forms of contraception and showing them how to use them.

Within two decades, the fertility rate fell by ten to 15 percent - and women's incomes rose by a third, explains a spokeswoman for the foundation, explaining the effects. More children survived, more children went to school, and maternal health improved. In the villages that took part in the program, the average household wealth was finally around 25 percent higher than in comparable villages without this program.

Africa: average age under 25 years

Particular attention is paid to Africa, because the very young population (average age 20-25 years) is expected to double by the year 2050 and to quadruple by the end of the century. And many fear that people could make their way to Europe if they have neither education nor a livelihood at home.

Malawi: Success in banning child marriage

However, according to the Ministry of Development, there are successes to be recorded here as well. In small Malawi, which has quasi quintupled its population from four to 19 million since the 1960s, the birth rate has fallen from 5.7 children per woman to 4.4 children within five years, according to a ministry spokesman for the Tagesspiegel. There, the government has made this topic a priority and, for example, banned child marriages and made free mother-child offers.

Ethiopia: Hope for Prime Minister Ahmed

Even in the much larger Ethiopia, women would no longer have eight children as they did 25 years ago, but only 4.5 children. “The trend is clearly downwards,” emphasizes the spokesman - and is confident that this will continue with the help of German development aid.

In Ethiopia, people invest heavily in vocational training. They want to work together on equality, education and health care. However, the speaker does not want to make a forecast for 2050. Germany is placing its hopes in the new head of government, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Abiy Ahmed. However, he is currently under strong domestic political pressure and recently stood out for denigrating political opponents as a “weed” that he would “uproot”.

In Addis as in Europe

Incidentally, says the ministry spokesman, in the capital Addis Ababa the rate is already only two to three children per woman. You can see what is possible there. However, nobody wants everyone from the huge country in the middle of Africa to move to the capital. At the moment around 84 percent of the approximately 110 million Ethiopians live in rural areas.

The spokeswoman for the World Population Foundation continues to refer to the “great differences between rural and urban dwellers”. She gives further figures for Ethiopia from the World Population Report 2019. For example, the number of women between 15 and 49 years of age who use contraceptives has risen from just three percent in 1994 to 40 percent this year. The maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births fell from 1130 to 353 during this period.

The speaker does not want to spread too much enthusiasm. Because: "Of course, none of that is enough," she explains. And: I don't know of an African country "in which the positive development has already taken place, for example in South Korea," concludes the spokeswoman for the foundation.

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