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Environment 20:20 vision

Looking forward, looking back. In 20:20 vision we look forward to 2031 while also reminding ourselves about events from 1991.
Back to 1991.

Water hyacinth


Water hyacinth entered Lake Victoria in 1991, and grew rapidly over the period 1992-8. The plant doubles its biomass every 15 days. Hyacinth, allegedly carried into the lake by the Kagera River from Rwanda, choked significant parts of the freshwater mass, with considerable impact on the life living in and around this important water source.

[Sources: Lake Victoria chokes under the water hyacinth. Fighting water hyacinth in West Africa.]


Malawi LakeWet.

Flash floods killed more than 500 people in March 1991, displaced thousands, destroyed crops and livestock as well as buildings in Malawi.

[Source: Relief Web report on Malawi floods.]



In 1991, Zimbabwe was in the grip of one of the worst droughts - described by some as the drought of the century - Drought intensified, and continued into Zimbabwe and other states for 1992.

[Sources: Drought Mitigation Centre, USA. ESS's article on the 1991 Zimbabwe Drought.]



The fight back against poaching achieved some success in 1991, when zero elephants were reportedly poached that year in Tsavo National Park, Kenya. Unfortunately, this success did not last.

[source: Bio One Journals.]


Cites logoIvory.

In 1991, Uganda signs the Cites treaty on trade in endangered species. Significantly, one particular animal product - ivory - has continued to pass through Entebbe airport. Reports suggest that eight elephants have been poached in Uganda's parks in the first two months of 2011.

[Sources: An article from The Observer on Uganda, Kenya, poaching and the ivory trade. A report on illegal ivory trade and China's role in it.]



On 28 May 1991, ABT Summer, an oil tanker, exploded 900 miles off Angola's coast. 1,905,800 barrels spilled into the ocean.

[Source: The top ten worst oil spills.]


Forward to 2031.


Seven countries in the Sub-Saharan African region will experience precipitation shocks in 2031. The risk of civil conflict, as a result of these changing climatic conditions, will increase.

[Source: Trends and triggers: Climate change and civil conflict in Africa.]


Food AidAid.

Two scenarios for aid in 2031 are offered by Madeleine Bunting. One is positive; the other suggests aid fatigue will have set in by the time 2031 rolls around.

[Source: What will aid look like in 2031?]



Projections on infectious diseases suggest that by 2031, the fight against malaria will have achieved some success, with just over US$2 billion being spent on preventing new infections for that year.

[Source: Roll Back Malaria.]


South African childrenGoing down.

South Africa's age dependency ratio will drop by 2031 to 34.1. In 2001, the age dependency ratio was 57.5 per dependent people aged 0-14 years and 65+ years. Simply stated, age dependency is a measure of the dependency of individuals, who wouldn't typically be working, on those who do work. The projected decline in ADR is positive.

[Source: South Africa's youth bulge.]


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