Connections Between Poverty and Ecosystems Mapped in New Kenya Atlas

May 29, 2007, 01:00 ET from World Resources Institute

    NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new atlas of Kenya
 -- designed to improve understanding of the relationships between poverty
 and the environment -- is being released today.
     The atlas and its 96 different maps include significant policy and
 economic development analyses that will be useful to policy-makers
     "This is the result of a multi-year effort between two Kenyan and two
 international organizations," said Henry Obwocha, the Honorable Minister
 for Planning and National Development. "Such a 'poverty and ecosystem'
 atlas has never been done before for Kenya. By utilizing it, Kenyan
 institutions can initiate a comprehensive accounting of ecosystem services
 for the country. We can continue to develop new approaches to better
 integrate poverty-ecosystem relationships in national policies and
 decision-making." He will speak at the official Atlas launch here tomorrow
 -- on May 30.
     Nature's Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Human Well-Being
 was produced by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics at the Ministry of
 Planning and National Development, the Kenya Department of Resource Surveys
 and Remote Sensing at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources,
 the International Livestock Research Institute, and the World Resources
     The Atlas tells many stories about Kenya. For one example, high milk
 production from cattle is more prevalent in communities with lower poverty
 rates around Mount Kenya and the Upper Tana region. Further investigation
 is needed to determine whether households in these communities became less
 poor once they became high milk producers or whether a certain amount of
 capital had to be in place to support a high-milk output production system.
 An examination of areas of high milk production and high poverty rates can
 provide useful insights into the causes of high poverty rates. It could
 also help promote appropriate milk production technology in poorer
 communities in the upper Tana River drainage basin.
     "As a result of this type of work, we will never be able to claim that
 we did not know," said Professor Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt
 Movement, 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate, and a member of the Tetu Constituency
 of the Kenya Parliament. Maathai wrote the foreword to the Atlas and made a
 videotaped statement at today's press conference.
     "Planting trees has been a way to break the cycle of diminishing
 resources for the women of the Green Belt Movement. I see the ideas and
 maps in this Atlas to be much like a small seedling. If nurtured, if
 further developed and grown, and if used by both government and civil
 society, this seedling carries the promise of breaking the cycle of
 unenlightened decision-making that is not accountable to the people most
 affected by economic or environmental changes; that does not consider the
 impact on our children and grandchildren," Maathai added.
     Jonathan Lash, WRI president, said, "The links between poverty and
 ecosystems are too often overlooked. For the majority of the poor, rural
 environmental resources are the key to better livelihoods and economic
     The Atlas is a step forward from the landmark findings of the 2005
 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment -- that 15 of the world's 24 ecosystem
 services are degraded. It will help enable other countries to develop their
 own similar maps.
     The National Bureau of Statistics ( is mandated to
 collect, analyze, and disseminate socio-economic statistics needed for
 planning and policy formulation.
     The Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing
 ( gathers and analyzes
 information on wildlife and livestock population trends, human dwellings,
 vegetative cover, land use, land degradation, crop forecasting, and other
 environmental variables.
     The International Livestock Research Institute ( is
 a non-profit and non-governmental organization that works at the crossroads
 of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality science and
 capacity-building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development.
     The World Resources Institute ( is an independent,
 non- partisan and nonprofit organization with a staff of more than 100
 scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical
 analysts, mapmakers, and communicators developing and promoting policies
 that will help protect the Earth and improve people's lives.

SOURCE World Resources Institute