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Saturday 16 December 2017

Seven billionth baby born amid fears the planet is unable to cope

Pawan Kumar in Lucknow, India

WRAPPED in a white blanket, Nargis Yadav lies in the arms of her mother in a small rural clinic in north India.

She is the "symbolic" seven billionth baby born on the planet, according to UN calculations.

In truth she was one of half-a-million babies born around the world yesterday -- the new arrivals collectively will push the global population to the milestone of seven billion.

The UN-declared landmark underscores the challenges faced by many countries in providing for the growing numbers of people on an already over- stretched and crowded planet.

The infant was born in the populous state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest regions in India, a country that could soon overtake China as the world's most populated nation.

Her parents, poor villagers who earn just over €72 a month, say they want her to go to school and be successful in life, but aid workers say this will be an uphill struggle.

"The child will face a lot of challenges," said Sona Sharma, director for advocacy and communications at the Population Foundation of India.

"Getting proper nutritional food, clean drinking water and even basics such as medical care, like immunisations, to help her survive the first few years will be challenging."

With the world's population more than doubling over the last half century, basics like food and water are under more strain than ever, say experts, and providing for an additional two to three billion people in the next 50 years is a serious worry.

Water usage is set to increase by 50pc between 2007 and 2025 in developing nations, while food security remains a challenge with 925 million people going hungry.


To feed the two billion more mouths predicted by 2050, food production will have to increase by 70pc, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation says.

But climate change may be the greatest impediment to meeting this target, say experts.

Population growth is also resulting in rapid urbanisation, placing serious strains on towns and cities as migrants move from poor rural areas to richer urban centres.

"If governments do not act, we will put further strains on the resources that we have," warned Babatunde Osotimehin, head of the UN Population Fund.

Irish Independent

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