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  • Velingara, Senegal
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • Flood in Mozambique
  • Parrot’s Beak, Sierra Leone/Liberia
  • Banjul, Gambia
  • Tripoli, Libya
  • Midrand, South Africa
  • Lake Victoria, Uganda
  • Mount Kenya, Kenya
  • Tai National Park, Cote d’Ivoire


  • Itampolo, Madagascar
  • Kisangani, D.R. of Congo
  • Challawa Gorge Dam, Nigeria
  • Lake Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon
  • Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho
  • Lake Nakuru, Kenya
  • Peanut Basin, Senegal
  • Revane, Senegal
  • Narok, Kenya
  • Toshka Project, Egypt


  • Africa is a region of occurrences – from tsunamis to droughts; fires to floods and meteor impacts to epidemics and pandemics
  • Between 1975 and 2005, the population more than doubled from 335 to 751 million and is predicted to reach 1.1 billion by 2025
  • Currently Africa’s growth rate is at 2.2 per cent a year
  • Total forest area of Africa is 5 683 131 km2; Africa constitutes about 17 per cent of the world's forests; Nigeria has the world’s highest deforestation rate
  • 300 million Africans do not have access to safe water, about 313 million have no access to sanitation and over 88 million people are malnourished
  • In Africa, agriculture provides livelihoods for about 60 per cent of the continent's active labour force, contributes to 17 per cent of Africa's total gross domestic product and accounts for 40 per cent of its foreign currency earnings

Sources: FAO, Population Reference Bureau


Meteor Impact in Velingara, Senegal

Velingara Crater appears to be a meteor-impact-generated structure

  • 1975: Image predates the agricultural development
  • 2001: Intense agricultural systems have appeared near the center of the crater

Disappearing Icecap of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Africa’s highest mountain with a forest belt having rich diversity of ecosystems

  • 1976: Glaciers covered most of the summit
  • 2000: The glaciers had receded alarmingly

Mozambique under Water

2000: Due to severe flooding, half a million people were made homeless and 700 lost their lives

22 August 1999: Mozambique under normal conditions

1 March 2000: Mozambique under water


Impact of Civil Wars on Guinea

These images show impact of civil wars in Liberia on neighboring Guinea

  • 1974: Image of the Parrot’s Beak region in Guinea
  • 2002: The light green color is the result of deforestation in the “safe area” where refugees set up camp

Urban Sprawl in Banjul, Gambia

Images show urban sprawl and its impact

  • 1973: Urban growth and expansion of cropland has led to decline in woodland
  • 1999: Abuko Nature Reserve is an isolated patch of green in the 1999 image

Undergoing Steady Urban Growth - Tripoli, Libya

  • 1976: Grasslands have been converted into agricultural fields
  • 2002: Urban expansion is especially notable (shades of grey)

Industrializing Midrand, South Africa

Rapidly transforming city due to population growth, agriculture, mining, and industry

  • 1978: Surrounding area consists largely of agriculture
  • 2002: High density urban development

Impact of Invasive Species on Lake Victoria, Uganda

These images show water hyacinth infestation and control of such invasive species

  • 1995: Image shows several water-hyacinth-choked bays (yellow arrows)
  • 2001: A visible reduction of Water Hyacinth on Lake Victoria

Population Growth Around Lake Victoria, Uganda

  • The population growth around 100 km buffer zone of the Lake Victoria
  • Population growth around Lake Victoria, East Africa, is the highest in Africa

World’s Fastest Growing Rural Area – Lake Victoria, Uganda

Note: Figures for 2010 and 2015 are estimates.


Population Growth: Lake Victoria vs. Africa

Note: Figures for 2010 and 2015 are estimates.


Diversity in Mt. Kenya Ecosystems Kenya

These images show high diversity in ecosystems and species

  • 2000: The entire forest belt of Mount Kenya was gazetted as National Reserve
  • 2002: The image shows significant improvement in the state of conservation of forests

Tai National Park, Côte d’Ivoire – site of world’s highest deforestation rate

These images show deforestation rate in the area, believed to be one of the highest in the world

  • 1988: Shows destruction of small forest fragments
  • 2002: The lighter green strip bisecting the images is the result of extensive deforestation and intensive cultivation

Disappearing Forests in Itampolo, Madagascar

These images show the changes in narrow coastal plain

  • 1973: Shows heavily forested area home to unique and rare plant and animal species
  • 2001: Burning of forest to clear land for dry rice cultivation, has led to disappearance of forest area (seen as tan)

Steady Deforestation in KisanganiDemocratic Republic of Congo

These images show slow but steady deforestation of dense forest cover

  • 1975: The city and surrounding areas are clearly visible
  • 2001: The cleared area around the city has grown and become consolidated, spreading along rivers and roads

Impact of Challawa Gorge DamNigeria

These images show the area before and after construction of the dam

  • 1990: Image of the area before the completion of the dam in 1993
  • 1999: Impact of flooding upstream from the dam; colour of the water in the flooded area indicates high sediments

Shrinking Lake Chad shared by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon

Persistent drought has shrunk the lake to about a tenth of its former size

  • 1972: Larger lake surface area is visible in this image
  • 2001: Impact of drought displays a shrunken lake, comparatively much smaller surface area than in 1972 image

Skepticism surrounding Lesotho Highland Water Project in South Africa

These images show the area before and after construction of Katse dam

  • 1989: Image of the area before the completion of the dam in 1995
  • 2001: Katse dam created an enormous reservoir, the extent of which can clearly be seen in this image

Land Cover Degradation Around Lake Nakuru, Kenya

These images show the land cover degradation in the lake’s catchment

  • 1973: The area that hosts the world’s largest concentration of flamingos
  • 2000: Excision of forest in the Eastern Mau Forest Reserve (white lines) will most likely lead to disappearance of upper catchment forest cover

Battle between Forests vs. FarmlandsPeanut Basin, Senegal

Shows growing patchwork of savannas (greenish patches)

  • 1979: Image shows farmland before being abandoned
  • 1999: Hundreds of villages are scattered throughout the region to enjoy fallow and grazing lands

Changing Landscape in Ravene, Senegal

Images show impact of drought and over-grazing on the woody vegetation

  • 1965: Ancient valleys cutting through gravelly plateaus, with extensive bushland vegetation
  • 1999: The badland phenomenon spread extensively along the shallow valley slopes

Converted Lands of Narok, Kenya

These images show the conversion of grasslands into agricultural fields

  • 1975: The agricultural expansion is just beginning
  • 2000: This image shows the degree to which farmlands have expanded

Toshka Lakes: Farming the DesertEgypt

These images show the desert area transformed into vegetable plots

  • 1984-87: Image of the area before the desert reclamation project began in mid-1990s


  • 2000: Four new lakes are visible in this image, faint blue-green areas around the lakes are newly created agricultural lands

Toshka Lakes: Farming the DesertEgypt

2005: New fields are clearly visible in the image



  • Lake Kivu, Congo/Rwanda
  • Lake Alaotra, Madagascar
  • Lake Al Wahda, Morocco
  • Lake Cahora Basa, Mozambique
  • Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe
  • Lake Djoudj, Senegal
  • Lake Ichkeul, Tunisia
  • Lake Manantali, Mali
  • Lake Sibaya, South Africa
  • Songor Lagoon, Ghana
  • Lake Tonga, Algeria


  • According to the WORLDLAKE database, there are 677 lakes in Africa
  • There are 15 natural lakes that cross the political boundaries of two or more countries in Africa
  • There are 60 transboundary river basins in Africa, covering over 63 per cent of the continent’s land area
  • Lake Chad’s surface area has shrunk by 95 per cent over the past 35 years
  • Uncontrolled damming, the withdrawal of water for irrigation, and climate variability are the major causes of drying up of Lake Tonga in Algeria
  • Population growth around Lake Victoria, the continent’s largest lake, is significantly higher than the rest of Africa
  • Some lakes in central Africa have become known as “killer lakes,” because of the catastrophic natural events that have occurred in their vicinity

Sources: UNEP 2006


Lake Kivu-one of Africa’s “killer lakes”Congo/Rwanda

These images show dramatic changes before and after the eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo in 2002

  • 2001: Before the January 2002 eruption
  • 2003: Shows the track of the lava flow

Severe flooding around Lake AlaotraMadagascar

These images show flooding over a wide area

  • Flooding destroys significant portion of crops
  • Intensive rice irrigation occurs at the western part of the lake (yellow arrows)

Impact of Al Wahda reservoir in Morocco

These images illustrate the change in land cover

  • 1987: The area before the construction of dams
  • 2001: The area after the construction of 110 large dams

Cahora Basa – Mozambique’s largest dam on the Zambezi River

These images show spectacular changes in the Zambezi riverine system

  • 1972: The Zambezi River a few years before the dam construction
  • 1999: This image shows part of the enormous dam and the lake

Invasive water weeds in Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe

These images show overall reduction in water weeds

  • 1989: Weeds show up as green strands along the edges of the lake
  • 2000: This image shows that water weeds remains a persistent problem

Rejuvenation of the Djoudj Sanctuary in Senegal

These images show the Djoudj Sanctuary before and after the construction of the Diama Dam

  • 1979: Shows the impact of drought on the Djoudj Sanctuary
  • 1999: Rejuvenation of the Sanctuary wetlands due to significant floods

Ecological changes around Lake Ichkeul, Tunisia

These images show the impact of damming

  • 1972: Shows the three feeder rivers supplying the lake before they were dammed
  • 2000: Shows the location of the dams (yellow arrows)

Agricultural expansion around Lake Manantali, Mali

These images show the expansion of irrigated agriculture

  • 1977: Shows the original meandering nature of the Bafing River
  • 1999: Shows the expanded irrigated land and increase in lake water quantity

Lake Sibaya – wetland of international important in South Africa

These images show increase in cultivation around the lake

  • 1991: Lakeshore is home to the only known species of a rare climbing orchid
  • 2001: The yellow arrows vividly show the increase of cultivation of marginal lands around the lake

Reduction in the surface area of Songor Lagoon, Ghana

These images show a conspicuous reduction in the surface area

  • 1990: Shows major lagoon system associated with Volta river estuary
  • 2000: This image shows water area dramatically reduced, exposing bare ground

Changes in and around Lake TongaAlgeria

These images show the changes brought about by damming of the feeder rivers

  • 1988: Lake Tonga before the damming of feeder rivers
  • 2000: Damming increased irrigation and drastically reduced the volume of water entering the lake


One Planet Many People: Atlas of Our Changing Environment

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