Connecting Development Sectors with Infographics
How does agriculture, education, gender, and combatting poverty affect the health sector in low-income countries? Here are a few innovative infographic examples that show the links from Farming First and USAID.
What are Infographics?
Infographics are a new, powerful internet-based communication medium that marry pictures and words so people can absorb a host of important information without wading through a multitude of reports.
In this time where everything is fast paced, information must be quick and easy to digest. Infographics have become an easy way to display key information visually. In one glance, a person can look at an infographic and take away important facts.
I want to briefly discuss two different infographics and how they express concrete ideas about poverty and international development through the same medium. Although these examples look at development in different ways—one more focused on agriculture and the other on combatting poverty—there is no doubt that these two sectors, together with education and gender, are interrelated and have a dramatic effect on the health and wellbeing of families in low-income countries.
Using Infographics to Illustrate Complex Data
· Why are women so important to agriculture?
· Where does a gender gap in agriculture exist?
· What are the impacts of the gender gap in agriculture?
Farming First answers these questions with several infographics, including an illustration of data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Committee on World Food Security that a US$10 increase in women’s household income achieves the same food security and nutrition outcomes as a US$110 increase in male income. The infographic is an approachable, powerful method to convey statistics.
Here’s a health-related fact from the second question, under the subheading: Education.
“Girls who stay in school are more likely to be able to feed themselves and their families when they become adults. One study showed that women's education contributed 43% of the reduction in child malnutrition over time compared to just 26% for improvements in food availability (Smith and Haddad 2000).” The accompanying graph based on an FAO Report shows that in 15 countries, male heads of households stay in school much longer than women who head up households, in some cases—Bolivia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan—more than twice as long.
One particularly interesting infographic under the section about where a gender gap in agriculture exists is a subheading called Handweeding. This shows that 75% of the 250m tons of crops grown in Sub-Saharan Africa are on smallholder farms, that 75% of those farms are weeded by hand, that 50-70% of total labor time is spent on handweeding, and 90% of the handweeding is done by women. During the peak period of weeding 70% of farm children ages 5 to 14 are forced to leave school and work in the agriculture sector, and girls are disproportionately affected.
Using Infographics to Make Information Easy to Understand
An infographic from USAID demonstrates how mobile technologies can empower the poor to take hold of their future and how USAID is leveraging this technology to save lives and create change. Mobile technologies fundamentally transform the way people in the developing world interact with one another and their governments, and access basic health, education, business and financial services.
There are 4.5 billion mobiles in the developing world. By 2016 there will be 1 billion in Africa alone, according to the infographic, which gives an example of how SMS helps keep people healthy: The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) uses mobile phones to provide mothers without access to clinics vital health information about pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of life.
With regards to gender, the inforgraphic shows:
· 93% of female mobile phone users feel safer with a phone
· 85% of females feel more independent
These infographics are studies in cross-sector development. Could it be that this new Internet-based communication media channel will finally begin to break down the walls separating the various sectors and provide a solid foundation for moving forward in low-income countries? I’m not so sure that infographics can solve problems, but I am sure that being able to easily articulate information to policymakers, funders and the general public will help raise awareness for issues surrounding health and development.
For more great infographics and data visualizations visit: http://visual.ly/.