This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Demographic Setbacks in Nigeria

Nigeria is currently the world's 7th most populous country. UN projections suggest that it could surpass the U.S. and become the 3rd most populous nation by the middle of this century. Thus, it should be higher on our collective radar screen that it currently is. Among the many issues within the country, the two latest are connected: (1) tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northeast of the country, forced out by violence inflicted on the area by Boko Haram; and (2) the discovery of two new polio cases in the same region, probably for the same reason.

On NPR's "All Things Considered" a couple of days ago, the problems associated with being internally displaced were discussed in some detail.
Children are among the hardest hit by seven years of Boko Haram's violent insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. Doctors Without Borders warns acutely malnourished children risk starvation and even death. Tens of thousands of people are seeking shelter, food and medical aid, uprooted from their homes by the militants the Nigerian military claims they have defeated.
And BBC News, among many others, covered the story about the polio cases. In 2012, Nigeria was home to half of all reported polio cases in the world, but was working hard to vaccinate all children against the paralyzing disease, the spread of which can only be prevented by immunization.
The government said polio paralysed two children in Borno state, a part of Nigeria where Boko Haram militants have hindered health campaigns. The development is seen as a major setback for Nigeria, which was on track to be declared polio free in 2017. The cases were confirmed exactly two years after Africa's last previous case - in the Puntland region of Somalia, on 11 August 2014. Nigeria's government said that one million children would be immunized in the affected areas in Borno and a further four million will also be targeted in neighbouring states.
As bad as these events are, Nigeria's 2 million IDPs doesn't quite put it among the top ten list of countries in terms of the number of internally displaced persons. Data from the Humanitarian Information Unit of the U.S. State Department suggest that Syria leads the list, followed by Colombia, India, China, Iraq, Sudan, Nepal, Yemen, Pakistan, and the Philippines. 

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