Are there specific populations in the world where lack of investment poses the greatest threat to future peace and prosperity? In a world connected by the rapid movement of money, goods, and services, and increasingly people, this is fast becoming an important global question. Because if we can identify the highest-risk populations now, it might be possible to make the kinds of investments that avert a confluence of poverty, inequality, disease, and conflict that could threaten nations, regions, and even the planet.
But how to find them? Here’s one possible approach worth considering. It begins with a hypothesis; namely that the largest, most vulnerable populations will live in the places with, (a) the fastest population growth, (b) the largest proportions of young men, and, (c) the largest cohorts of young mothers.
Why? Because these are the places where rapid growth will put enormous pressure on resources, leaving large populations of young men potentially unemployed, idle, and vulnerable to violent distraction, while young women are tied up with the burdens of childcare and locked out of economic and political power and influence.
If we fast forward to 2030 and isolate the twenty cities and towns that will experience the fastest population growth, with very large proportions of young men and children under 14, we come up with the following twenty urban areas (in order of population size).
This is a recipe for extreme poverty, inequality, disease, and conflict that could prove highly contagious.
But where are these populations?
They include, in order of forecast population size in 2030: (1) Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (10.8 million), (2) Kampala, Uganda (5.5 million), (3) Bujumbura, Burundi (1.8 million), (4) Mwanza, Tanzania (1.8 million), (5) Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso (1.6 million), (6) Tshikapa, DRC (1.5 million), (7) Bunia, DRC (1.1 million), (8) Lokoja, Nigeria (1.1 million), (9) Malanje, Angola (1.1 million), (10) Goma, DRC (1 million), (11) Uvira, DRC (940,000), (12) Cuito, Angola (865,000), (13) Uige, Angola (847,000), (14) Zinder, Niger (813,000), (15) Kabinda, DRC (800,000), (16) Gwagwalada, Nigeria (697,000), (17) Potiskum, Nigeria (692,000), (18) Quelimane, Mozambique (665,000), (19) Tete, Mozambique (610,000), (20) Songea, Tanzania (597,000).