Cover Image
close this bookHow the Population Changes (FAO)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAims/objectives
View the documentActivity no. 1 - More or less
View the documentActivity no. 2 - Let's take a census of our group
View the documentActivity no. 2 - Let's take a census of our group
View the documentActivity no. 3 - Population investigative reporter

Activity no. 1 - More or less

More or less

A game to illustrate the effects of births, deaths and migration on population size, and the concept of over-population.



· The leader draws two large circles on the ground and divides them into sections to represent population changes, then draws symbols to represent birth, death or migration in each section as in the drawings on page 11.

· The leader explains that the circles represent the community, one as it was many years ago and one as it is today and that the group will play a game to show how the population changes.

· The group members divide into two groups, one for each circle. Each member of the group in turn tosses five stones into the circle and records the population changes on a large sheet of paper prepared by the group leader.

· The groups then come back together and consider the population changes in the two circles.

· The leader then starts off a discussion about what is causing the rapid population growth of today, what we mean by over-population and what measures need to be taken to control it.


So that the participants will be able to:

· Understand how births, deaths and migration combine to influence the size of the population and how fast it grows.

· See that over-population occurs when there are too many people for the available resources.



· The diagrams on page 11 to help in drawing the circles for the game. (Draw them with a stick or chalk on the ground.)

· Two large sheets of paper on which to record the population changes.

· Ten stones.

· The background information on the following pages.

· Group participation and interest.

Some background information for the group leader

What do we mean by "population"?

By "population" we usually mean the number of people or things that are in a certain area. For example, if you live with your mother, father and two sisters, we could say that your household has a population of five. Usually, we use the term population to refer to the number of people in a town, a village, a country, a region, or even the whole world.

The important thing to remember is that population must be related to a particular area. Saying, 'The population is 50," has no meaning. But saying, 'The population of our village is 50," tells us that there are a certain number of people (50) in a certain area (the village).

Sometimes the word population can he used to refer to something other than people. For example, you may hear the term "the animal population" of a certain area. For this reason, when we talk about population, if we are talking about people, sometimes we say "human population" to be sure people know what we mean.

What causes population increases or decreases?

Births. Every time a baby is born, the population of that area increases by one.

Deaths. Every time a person dies, whether they are young or old, the population decreases by one.

Migration, Not everyone lives and dies in the same place where they were born. Sometimes people decide to leave their homes and move to another area. This is called migration.

If more people are horn than die, the population is increasing. In fact, in many areas the number of people being born is much higher than the number of people dying. The result is a rapid increase in population. One of the reasons for this is that many children used to die from illness, so families had many children in the hope that a few would survive. Today, however, modern medicine has reduced the number of children who die from illnesses and people also live longer - but many parents are still having large families.

Is it bad if the population increases? What do we mean by over-population?

Population growth in itself is neither bad nor good. To decide what is the appropriate population for a household (family), village, region, country or even the whole world, we need to consider the resources that are available. If there are enough resources to permit a larger number of people to live well, an increase of population in that particular area may not be a problem. In fact, in some areas, there is a need for more people.

In many areas, however, population is increasing far faster than there are resources to provide for it. It is very difficult to increase food production, medical care, education and so on for a population that grows very fast. For a village or community, rapid increases in population may mean that schools will not be able to accept all the children or that health or sanitation facilities will not he able to cope with the pressure of so many people. Land, water and fuelwood may all be insufficient. People try to produce more food and fuelwood by using poor land but this leads to soil erosion and permanent damage so that the land becomes useless.

There are also bad effects for the mother of having many children. If she has a child every year for several years in a row, a woman will become weakened by the strain and her children are also likely to be unhealthy as she cannot breast feed them for a long enough period. Instead, if she spaces her children over a longer period of time, both she and they would be healthier.

Children in class

How fast Is the population increasing in Africa?

In most African countries, the population is growing very quickly compared to the way it increased in the past. On the average, for every 100 people there are five babies born each year. Over the same period, two people die (both children and adults). The end result is that for each 100 people in Africa, the population increases by three each year (a three percent increase).

This may not sound like much but it means that the population will double in 25 years.

This means that your village or community will have about twice as many people as it does now 25 years from now. If the population continues to grow as it is doing now, the children of the members of the youth group will live in a community that is twice as crowded as it is today.

Will the resources in the community - land, water, education and employment opportunities, etc. - be enough for everyone, or will this growth result in over-population.






Sample tally sheet to-record population changes




Total Population Increase_________