Population simply refers to the number of people living in a particular place, be it village, towns, city or country.When the number increases so excessively in terms especially of the size of that particular place as to begin to have negative effects of many aspects of livelihood, it generates population issues. A century or even half a century ago, population was not an issue for any of the countries in the world, for the size of each country could hold the number of people living in it then, moreover, the natural resources of the country, such as land, could adequately cater for the basic needs of the existing population. The situation has quite dramatically changed over the last three or four decades as a result of population boom that was experienced by practically all the countries of the world. Questions began to be raised as to the impact of the large population increase on the quality of human life, the adequacy of existing natural resources, the quality of the environment and so on. Thus, population has become an issue in the world today.
It was the advanced countries of the Western world that first recognized the negative effect that the large population increases would have on the lives of their people and began to find ways to deal with the problem. They took account of the population dynamics in their national planning policies and measures. Developing countries like Ghana, even though they were experiencing huge increases in the sizes of the populations of their various countries, did not appreciate the importance of the population dynamics and did little to nothing to come to grips with those dynamics. They failed to take account of the large population increases in their countries in their national planning programmes and activities.
In Ghana, it was not until the Ghana population of 1969 was launched that attempts began to be made to relate population to national resources and planning. Before then, very little attempt, if any was made to deal with the high rate of population growth. In consequence, Ghana’s population has been increasing by leaps and bounds with serious negative effects on the socioeconomic development of the nation and the quality of life of its citizens. Thus, Ghana has population issues on its hands and has to deal with them seriously sooner rather than later.
The Relevance of Ghana’s Population Policy
In our contemporary world that is faced with the problem of population explosion that is having negative effects on the environment in different ways, on the availability of land, food and water and in general, on the quality of life of the people’s of the world, every country ought to have a coherent population policy to guide its planning and development goals. Defining a population policy is, thus a basic requirement in today’s times, if a country is to achieve high levels of well-being for its people.
It was not until March 1969 that the government of Ghana issued a clear policy on population. This policy document was titled Population Planning for National Progress and Prosperity. The document not only defined government’s policy on population but also affirmed government’s determination and commitment to adopt and implement measures and programmes to manage population resources in a way that would help realize the government’s objective to enhance socioeconomic development and, in this way, improve the quality of life of the people of Ghana.
A quarter of a century after this policy was first proclaimed, the rate of growth of the population of Ghana was considered by population experts, policy makers and economic planners as unacceptably high. The experts pointed out that the high rate of the country’s population growth could subvert its plans for economic and sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
One serious factor of the inadequacies or failure of the 1969 population policy was the absence of a well defined institutional machinery to translate policy objectives into programmes and actions and implementation plans. Other factors included the in adequate knowledge of the inter relationship between population and development, inadequate funding, and the lack of community participation that was probably due to inadequate understanding of the wider community of the issues involved.
It became necessary, therefore to take another look at the original policy document with a view to redefine its objectives and to institute new measures and implementation strategies in order to achieve its goals.