With an increase of 1.2 million citizens every year, Uganda is the third-fastest growing country on earth. The population boom is causing bitter fights over land and may lead to food shortages, warn experts. Meanwhile, individual families feel the strain. "I love my children, but just wished I had fewer of them," says a struggling mother of seven.
A focused conversation with Justine is not possible because a horde of children permanently surrounds her. The twin four-year-old sons scream for attention, while her three-year-old daughter tries to grab the notebook of a visitor.
"Ugandan women are extremely fertile," says the 40 year old. "I love my children very much, but I fail to give everyone enough attention. I have to combine motherhood with my work as a hotel manager. The youngest children delay going to school because I use the money for school fees for the elder ones," she explains.
Justine was married twice. Both men left her. Only the second ex-husband contributes to his children's education. This scenario is commonplace in Uganda, where women give birth to an average of 6.2 children.
"People say I am blessed," she states. "I gave birth to two sets of twins, which is seen as an achievement in Ugandan culture. Then I have three other children - seven in total. I ask them: 'Blessed? You don't know what I am going through!'"
More people, same space
Uganda's Population Secretariat might hesitate to call Justine's situation a blessing. "We should be worried about the population explosion," says department head Hannington Burunde. "Our economy doesn't grow fast enough to cope."
Kampala is the sixth-fastest growing city in the world. Sheer scarcity drives up the prices of property and food. This has led to frequent street protests, led by the opposition, who blame the government rather than look at the demographics behind the problems.
"The population grows, but the land does not expand. There are increasing conflicts between communities. But there is also more encroachment on forests and national parks," Burunde says. "Food insecurity may increase as well."
What kind of workforce?
And the problems don't stop there. According to Burunde: "Unemployment, especially among youth, is massive. We have only 50,000 office jobs available, but many more graduate from universities every year."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been known to urge citizens to have many children. A large population is an asset for the country, he argues, because they form a formidable workforce. Although Burunde acknowledges manpower can push the economy ahead, he adds "but only if the population is educated enough."
As for Justine, the daily struggle with life - her own and that of her progeny - continues. "I wish I could make a real-life soap about my life as a mother of seven," she says. "I now advise people to have fewer children."