World Population Awareness
The Population Institute
Georgia Population & Sustainability Group
The Green Umbrella Campaign
for Family Planning
Help promote international family planning.
Get your group to carry green umbrellas in a U.S. parade.
The Green Umbrella represents a successful family planning
and reproductive health program in Bangladesh.
In the last two hundred years, human living conditions have improved due to better sanitation and modern medical care, and so the death rate of infants, children, and adults has dropped. As long as birth rates continue as in former times, the result is a fast-growing population. Current trends see a net of 78 million people added to planet earth every year. In just four short years, the earth will have to sustain another 300 million people, more than the current population of the United States! While many wealthy countries have succeed in stabilizing their populations, or even reducing populations from former high levels reached in the 60s or 70s, many poor countries continue to have high birth rates due to inaccessibility of contraceptives or lack of knowledge about the benefits of birth spacing, marrying later, and having smaller families. Unfortunately, it is the poor countries that have the least resources to spare, and whose citizens cannot provide adequately for their children.
In an article from the October 1998 Scientific American, The Population Slide, the average birthrate for Bangladeshi women has dropped from 7 in 1975 to three. (However, large numbers of women have now entered the child-bearing age.) Bangladesh is still one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, it's sudden drop in birth rate usually occurs in countries in an advanced stage of development. Reasons given are: the government's intensive family planning program; the drop in infant mortality which provides incentive to have fewer children; micro-credit programs giving credit for start-up of small ventures (with required resolutions to have smaller families); the war with Pakistan which pushed many women into manual labor, thus giving them control over their lives, and the big change in the status of women due to health care and education; and lastly, Bangledeshi radio providing 6 hours of heath and family planning programming a day. Bangladesh is the most densely populated countries in the world. USAID has helped considerably with the family planning program here. There are still challenges, especially in rural areas, where the feudal system still holds sway, encouraging large families to build up the clan.
According to the UNFPA, the potential for future growth is tremendous. Bangladesh now has 126 million people. Remarkably, the country has brought it's growth rate down from 3% in 1973 to 1.6% in 1999. Population stabilization at 170 million, is expected in 40-45 years - if replacement level of 2 children per woman -is reached by 2005. More realistically, population will stabilize at 200-250 million in 2050. About 50% of Bangladeshi people live in poverty and the same number are illiterate.
According to a Xinhua news service article dated January 12, 2000, the Bangladesh government wants to bring down the population growth rate to 1.2% from 1.6% by raising the number of couples under the family planning program from 51% to 71% in the current 1999-2000 fiscal year, seeing the need to set up condom, pill and plastic coil factories to make contraceptives easily available . The government also wants to reduce the infant and mother mortality rate from 4.3 to 2.6 per 1,000 during the period. 43% of the Bangladesh population is below 15 years old.
The Green Umbrella Program
After nearly a year of planning, the Green Umbrella logo was launched by the Honorable Minister of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), Mr. Salah Uddin Yusuf, on September 24, 1996 to an ethusiastic audience of more than 3,000 people at the Indoor Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka. The "Green Umbrella" is the logo which marks the places where health and family planning services are provided.
The Green Umbrella logo, symbolizing hope and protection for families, could be seen in every hospital, thana health complex, family planning center, satellite clinic and the houses of the field workers.
The logo and its slogan were designed by the MOHFW with technical assistance from John Hopkins University Center for Communication (CCP) in Bangladesh. The logo grew out of the need expressed in the National FP-MCH IEC Strategy for Bangladesh for a new logo to symbolize combined health and family planning services. It was launched with a major event in Dhaka in September 1996. Subsequently the logo was promoted through an extensive campaign using electronic and print media. Signs were placed on over 7,000 government and non-governmental (NGO) clinics nationwide.
The Bangladesh Center for Communication Programs (BCCP), John Hopkins University/CCP local successor organization in Bangladesh, received a grant from the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka and produced 38,000 green umbrellas and distributed them among all the health and family planning workers in the country. A very popular 13 part TV serial drama was produced and aired from October 1997 to promote the field workers and the Green Umbrella. Currently another 13 episode TV drama serial is being broadcast.
The color green was chosen as the most appropriate through focus group discussions with villagers and field workers. The Bangla words around the border of the umbrella say "Take Services, Stay Well", which is the main slogan of the campaign.
The logo is still being promoted and popularized through various media channels in Bangladesh and is well recognized as the place to go for health and family planning services.
Funding for International Family Planning Programs,
USAID, and UNFPA
From the 1960s through the mid-1980s, U.S. funding, scientific expertise, and political leadership helped establish family-planning programs across the globe. Stabilizing population growth was deemed important to promote sustainable development, improve trade, mitigate illegal immigration, and ease potential conflicts. But after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, a group of anti-abortion House members succeeded in slashing U.S. overseas family-planning funds by about one third to the current $385 million a year. U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Nafis Sadik believes the United States will resume its leadership role when congressional opponents come to realize that family planning will reduce the abortions they abhor. ... October 11, 1999 US News and World Report
As agreed upon in the ICPD (Cairo), in 1995 $7.5 billion came from developing countries and $2 billion came from the industrialized world. Since then, the contribution of the industrialized countries has declined.
Pat Waak, of the National Audubon Society Population and Habitat Program, said: "As a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Conference on Population and Development, I was involved in the crafting of the program of action. After thirty-five years in this field and work in 12 countries, I don't believe the program of action was flawed." ... "Even before Cairo, we had figured out that by the year 2000 the U.S. government should be contributing 1.2 billion dollars per year to international population and family planning. This budget coming up is about one-quarter of that amount. At Cairo we agreed that developing countries would contribution 2/3 of the money needed to address population growth in their countries. The donor countries promised to contribute 1/3. Five years later the developing countries met their commitment; we had not. It seems that the flaw is in our unwillingness to take seriously the issues related to population. But our biggest flaw is that we citizens have been unable to hold our decision-makers accountable."
Programs showing successes towards family planning and slowing population growth exist in Kenya, Thailand, Zimbewabe, Kerala (India), Mexico, Bangladesh, Iran, Cuba, Tanzania, Columbia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Uganda, Malawi, South Korea, Lebanon, and Oman.
Many believe that the U.S. budget currently contains ten times the amount actually allocated to foreign aid. When polled, a majority believe that foreign aid is more than 10 percent, and when asked what it should be, the consensus is 4-5 percent. In fact it is less than 1 percent! ... Mar 99 PCI
When Congress slashed funding for these programs in 1996, the 35 percent cut resulted in 4 million unplanned pregnancies, 1.6 million abortions, 8,000 maternal deaths, and 134,000 infant deaths due to increased high-risk births, according to leading U.S. research organizations.
In 1998 Congress eliminated all U.S. funding for the UNFPA. In 1999, in a compromise aimed at achieving the U.S. payment of back dues to the United Nations, President Clinton agreed to language in a spending bill that prohibits family planning aid to foreign non-government organizations (NGOs) for activities related to abortion. UNFPA funding was reinstated at $25 million, but with restrictions related to programs in China. ... The Washington Post
Family Planning Prevents Abortions
For 27 years, a U.S. law has forbidden the use of U.S. dollars for funding of abortions overseas, yet recently the promised amount of family planning funding from the U.S. has been held up because this law is not sufficient for some congressmen. In the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan, USAID has provided education to doctors and nurses and increased contraceptive supplies to 28 clinics. In 1993, the number of people receiving these contraceptives increase by 59 % while abortions fell 41 percent. Other examples where abortions dropped while contraceptive use rose are in Russia: abortions dropped from 3.6 million to 2.8 million in 4 years; in Hungary abortions fell from 80 per 1000 to 30 per 1000 in 26 years; in Chile abortions fell from 77 per 1000 to 45 per 1000 in 30 years; in Bogata Columbia a 1/3 increase in contraceptive use accompanied by a 45% decrease in abortions between 1976 and 1986; in Mexico City, contraceptive use went up 24% and the abortion rate went down 39%; in the industrialized nations including the US, Japan, and Western Europe, it was shown that the larger the proportion of women using 3 of the most effective contraceptive methods, the lower the national abortion rate. In Central Asia, the use of contraception has increased from 1/4 to 1/3 while abortions rates have decreased by as much as 1/2 from 1991-1996 ...Population Connection
Many women lose their lives to the
practice of abortion. Don't let it
happen it to you! ... Bolivia
What You Can Do
Go talk to people about the need for family planning in third world countries. Tell them that there is a large unmet need for family planning education, basic health care, and contraceptives, and that 1% of the U.S. budget for foreign aid is much too small! And pass along this brochure.
For information on population and family planning, contact one or more of the following organizations:
Population Connection ... www.populationconnection.org ... 1-800-767-1956 ... firstname.lastname@example.org
The Population Institute ... 107 2nd St., NE Washington, DC 20002 ... Phone: (202)544-3300 or 1-800-787-0038 ... Fax: (202)544-0068 ... www.populationinstitute.org
Population Coalition ... www.popco.org... ph/fax: 909-307-6597 ... PO Box 7918, Redlands, CA 92375
"The Population Coalition is a national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting a sustainable future through population stabilization, social justice and environmental protection."
[your organization here]
For details on the Green Umbrellas,, or to purchase Green Umbrellas for your group or organization, contact
Karen Gaia Pitts at email@example.com , or write World Population Awareness at P.O. Box 2533, Placerville CA 95667.
Photos and the Green Umbrella logo were supplied by the JHU/CCP PHOTOSHARE
Click here for umbrella factory pictures
For a free sample brochure, or more (max 4 brochures), send a long (business size) self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Karen Gaia Pitts, Green Umbrella sample brochure, P.O. Box 2533, Placerville CA 95667
Please write on the check how many umbrellas you are ordering and send it to:
- Group rates (5 or more): $7.00 each plus shipping ... make check payable to Karen Gaia Pitts
- 2-5 umbrellas: $9 each plus shipping ... make check payable to Motherlode Chapter, Sierra Club
- 1 umbrella: $14.00 - includes shipping to US location ... make check payable to Motherlode Chapter, Sierra Club
Karen Gaia Pitts, Buy a Green Umbrella, P.O. Box 2533, Placerville CA 95667
The eight panels of the U.S. version of the Green Umbrella are:
Click here for Bangladesh family pictures