7 Infographics About International Development Issues

In the past couple years I've been enjoying the explosion of infographics, those colorful graphs that help us all digest data in an easy-to-understand format. Here are seven international development infographics I think take complex issues and turn them into interesting stories. I've also included my thoughts on what I think is good and not so good about each graphic. What else do you think works or doesn't work with these graphics? Let me know in the comments section. 1. Gapminder World by Gapminder/Hans Rosling Good: Fascinating interactive data from Hans Rosling, professor of international health at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and perhaps the best-known data visualizer in the world. With Gapminder World you can explore everything from world life expectancy rates across two centuries to the spread and containment of the HIV epidemic over 27 years.

Not so good: The amount of explorable data can be overwhelming. Luckily, a user's guide helps you understand how to exploit Gapminder World to its fullest capacity.

2. Grenade or Aid? by Good and Column Five Good: Visually stunning, uses strong graphic elements to represent military and foreign aid spending. Ever run into an American who thinks foreign aid is 25% of the U.S. federal budget? This is the infographic to show them.

Not so good: The measurements aren't comparable between the military and foreign aid graphs. The military graph shows each country's military spending as a percentage of total world spending on the military. The foreign aid graph shows foreign aid expenditure as a percentage of each country's GDP.

3. Leap Into Action This Leap Year by the United Nations Foundation Good: If you've ever wondered exactly what the United Nations achieves, then this is the graphic for you.

Not so good: Doesn't provide original sources for its statistics. Also, this is one of those long, vertical infographics where you have to scroll down the page to see the whole thing.

4. Teach a Wo(Man) to Farm: The Agricultural Multiplier Effect by Good, ONE and Living Proof Good: Elegantly shows the connections among agriculture, economics, nutrition, health and poverty.

Not so good: The title is misleading. At first glance I thought this infographic would be about women in agriculture, in which case it's important to mention that women, on average, make up "43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries," according the Food and Agriculture Organization.

5. Learning Out of Poverty by USAID Good: Solid information. Not so good: All the people are brown and appear to be living in Africa or Latin America. This makes it seem that only a certain demographic of people needs or benefits from education, which isn't the case, of course. How about including some Asians and Caucasians? Also, this is another of those long, vertical graphics.

6. Visualizing the World's Food Consumption from Food Service Warehouse Good: Solid information. Not so good: The map of the world isn't being used to its fullest potential in this graphic. Incorporating the data into the map would improve this visualization. Also, I wish this graphic covered all the countries in the world.

7. The Changing Face of AIDS by Good and Column Five Good: Strong mix of data about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS around the world and perceptions about the illness in the United States. Not so good: It would be nice to see data about HIV/AIDS perceptions around the world, not just in the United States.


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