Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another great map!

The World Resources Institute report, World Resources 2005 -- The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty, details the steps necessary to empower the poor to use ecosystems both wisely and for wealth. The book presents lots of current information on environmental, social, and economic trends in more than 150 countries. The full World Resources database is accessible and searchable online at EarthTrends.

Here is one of the maps from the book. It shows how climate change will affect growing seasons in Africa in 2000-2050. The brown areas show which areas will be under greater stress through reduced agricultural production.

As I am deeply interested Tanzania, I peer closely at the map to see how it will be affected. I see that most of Tanzania is brown, meaning shorter growing seasons and lower food production. This means more malnourished children who will die young of preventable diseases.

The following map shows that in 1996 ALL districts of Tanzania had more than 14% of children underweight. In some districts, this was up to 48%. These figures can only get worse when climate change reduces the length of growing seasons.

I feel some relief to see that the northern edge of Tanzania, where the School of St Jude is in Arusha, will have longer growing seasons. Still, the country as a whole is facing the prospect of greater stress on food production.

When we care about an issue, we seek information so we are informed. We want to know what happens at the local level and also at the larger, national level. We want to know what is happening right now, and what the longer term holds. With good information, we have a clearer view and can make informed choices.

I believe that education is an investment in the future. For a relatively small donation to the School of St Jude, you can equip a bright child from the poorest family to be a teacher, doctor, nurse, engineer, a leader of the future. Desperately poor countries like Tanzania CANNOT advance without these professional skills. What a huge gift you will give – to the individual child, their family, their community and their country.

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