Community based mapping of refugee settlements

East Africa, and Uganda specifically, continue to be at the center of one of the world's largest and fastest-growing refugee crises. Uganda's progressive open-door policy alone has led to an influx of approximately 1.4 million refugees into the country. High mobility of refugees means the distribution and size of refugee settlements change constantly and the need for standardized accessible information to make timely informed decisions about where services need to be planned and built becomes more crucial than ever. Since 2015, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) has worked to address these challenges in Uganda.

Through the use of open-source technology tools combined with a community-based methodology, HOT has been able to address the critical data gap in these contexts by increasing real-time comprehensive data production on infrastructure and services where refugees and host communities reside. To ensure that government and organizations involved in the refugee response know that, first, this data exists and, second, how to effectively use it, HOT has worked extensively to support and train actors on how to systematically incorporate citizen-generated data into their programs to address and fill existing gaps.

This project digitized 1,500,000 buildings and 36,000 km of roads using satellite imagery and mapped more than 4,000 facilities and services across refugee communities and hosting districts for the first time. It addressed the following SDGs: SDG 3 - Good health & well-being, SDG 4 - Quality education, SDG 6 - Clear water & sanitation, SDG 11 - Sustainable cities & communities, SDG 10 - Reduced inequalities, and SDG 17 - Partnership for the goals. The project also generated base layer maps that can be used to guide government agencies and organizations in the design and implementation of interventions to respond to the refugee crisis in East Africa. HOT’s field activities spanned 52 sub-counties and 33 refugee zones and engaged more than 550 refugees and host community members to map the services and facilities within these areas. 

Through HOT training with more than 20 partner organizations and government agencies, the beneficiaries learned to use a multitude of technical tools to leverage the use and value of the open data generated through the field mapping activities. These datasets are available through OpenStreetMap and exported via platforms such as the Humanitarian Data Exchange.

Final Report

Case Study

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