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Live Projects

Afghnistan | South Africa - Port Elizabeth | New Orleans | Indonesia |


KabulTowards Peace in Afghanistan : Can mapping help with poverty reduction by identifying job gaps and creating 'Sustainable' jobs?

Rupert Douglas-Bate visited Afghanistan in May and June 2010, to research the domain of sustainable job creation. A sustainable job is one where someone gains a skill enabling them to create an immediate and enduring income, wherever they are.

The visit confirmed that to achieve long-term peace the primary strategy must be on poverty reduction, by establishing national job-skill training programs as an integral part of the secondary school programs and by creating massive numbers of sustainable jobs, especially for young men.


South Africa, Port Elizabeth

During August 2008, GMA volunteers Anton de Witt and Mzwabantu Collen Vantyi, with support from Rupert Douglas-Bate, made a pilot-survey to map and record the daily movement and activity of a selected group of street children, over a seven day period, in the City of Port Elizabeth. The project was an initial exercise, with a long-term goal to map the conditions of another group, the 800,000 AIDS orphans in South Africa.

The project is dedicated to The Royal Families of Dubai and Jordan, with grateful thanks to Adrian Gardiner and to the Mantis Collection hotel group, part of Dubai World Africa, for their support.

Little is known about the street children, however, it is a logical starting point to define as clearly as possible how, where, and why they live, for two reasons:-

a) it will promote a better informed discussion and actions to help them by local aid agencies and

b) it will help promote their needs to donors, of all sorts, near and far

The survey displays its results on a map. This is not a new technique, yet it is phenomenally effective and it has been done before. In 1889 Charles Booth a socially minded capitalist, created a poverty map for London, which showed the social condition of every street. His map grabbed the attention of politicians of all parties so that much better attention was then focused on actions to reduce poverty, for the reasons mentioned above.

GMA Street Children Map Port Elizabeth 2008

GMA Street Children Map, Port Elizabeth, 2008
Download original size map (2.5 MB)

Final Conclusions:

The group mostly stays intact for much of the day and its entire spatial activity pattern hardly ever exceeds a spatial extent of more than 1km2. This limited space in other words mostly represents the group's 'world'. Sometimes however its members tend to spread out over a small area (when they 'work' for example) and from time-to-time some individuals may even leave the group and venture beyond its usual spatial activity pattern. When it was for such reasons not possible to follow and observe the group as a whole, one particular group member named Sabta, was randomly chosen for this purpose and consistently followed.

In summary, the activities of these children represent a colossal 'feat of survival' with corresponding qualities of ingenuity and entrepreneurship. For these same qualities they are sometimes perceived as a nuisance.

New Orleans

Global MapAid volunteer team members: Elisabeth Huff, Brody Dittemore, Heather Carlisle and Rupert Douglas-Bate began data collecting and mapping on the 7th September 2005, soon after Katrina struck. They made and distributed 50,000 black and white maps, starting with 20,000 maps for the Slidell and Jefferson areas.

bulletOngoing Work



Reverse of Map of Slidell Town showing useful phone numbers where families might get help.

Map of Slidell Town showing where families might get practical help.

St Louis

St Louis Waveland

Reverse of St Louis Waveland showing useful phone numbers where families might get help.

Map of St Louis Waveland showing where families might get practical help.



Reverese of Map of North Jefferson Parish showing useful phone numbers where families night get help.

Map of North Jefferson Parish showing where families might get practical help.

The maps assisted returnees to locate food, water and clothing. In addition the GMA team helped our fellow aid workers at the Red Cross by supplying colour maps to their Emergency Response Vehicle teams, operating near Covington. These disaster relief maps showed food delivery boundaries, so their teams were better able to deliver hot food to the people and avoid covering the same areas over again, or miss out areas.

During this mission GMA made contact with the University of New Orleans and in particular Dr. Merrill Johnson, Associate Dean and Professor of Geography at the College of Liberal Arts and also Professor Juana Ibáñez of the College of Liberal Arts. They were both helpful in mapping and distributing maps to returnees and this friendship has led to our partnership and the Geo ERV program for disaster recovery.”

Rupert Douglas-Bate

Indonesia, Northern Sumatra, Bande Aceh 2005


On Sunday, December 26, 2004 a massive earthquake shook the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalem (NAD) in northern Indonesia. The quake triggered an enormous tidal wave, known as a tsunami, which struck the Indonesian province of NAD on the northern end of the island Sumatra. The Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Bureau recorded the quake's epicenter nearly 20 kilometers below sea level and 149 kilometers south of the city of Meulaboh (2.9N-95.6E). The US Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 9.0. The death toll caused by the tsunami, as reported on March 25, 2005 by the Indonesian government's disaster coordinating agency, BAKORNAS, exceeded 220,000 lives; in addition to making more than one million people homeless and also orphaning approximately 35,000 children. Initially relief poured in from around the world from both national governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO), although subsequent delays of relief have been a disappointment.

Global MapAid (GMA) is a unique non-profit organization which takes the initiative to train locals to do the work, which ensures that local humanitarian mapping is sustainable, once foreign NGO workers leave.

Assessing the Local Needs

In March 2005 a two-person team, Rupert Douglas-Bate and Frank Chang, went to Bande Aceh in Sumatra to assess how best to support the local mapping capability.

En route, the party passed through Medan in Sumatra and met with Paul Berg, the US Foreign Service Officer who is the Consul General at the newly reopened office in Medan, where a considerable amount of NGO coordination is handled.

Mr Berg proved very helpful in providing advice to Global MapAid, particularly towards building a partnership with the University of Syiah Kuala (Unsyiah) in Bande Aceh.

Starting a Local Partnership

In short, GMA made a partnership agreement with the University Task Force for Aceh Reconstruction (UTFAR) at the University of Syiah Kuala (Unsyiah) in Bande Aceh, to help map the tsunami devastated region, in order to help local authorities plan for the cities rehabilitation and reconstruction. UTFAR is headed by Dr. Hizir Sofyan, director of the Mathematics Department, and Muzailin Affan, head of the GIS and Remote Sensing Development Centre at the university.

In April, May and June, data collection equipment was researched, purchased and retrofitted to be able to withstand the conditions in northern Sumatra. These conditions typically involve 100% relative humidity, 40 degrees Celsius, frequent power outages and risk of loss due to pilfering. Please therefore note, all budding GIS volunteers, aid work is often neither romantic, nor for the faint of heart !

Implementing a Partnership Training Activity

In July 2005, GMA sent Erin Kees an American GIS expert to train a team of students at Unsyiah in using mobile GIS/GPS to collect data for the mapping project. With a generous donation from the Vodafone Foundation USA, GMA was able to purchase four Garmin iQue M5 handheld PCs with built-in GPS, ESRI's mobile GIS software ArcPad, and ArcPad Application Builder for customizing ArcPad.

A series of data collection activities and subsequent mapping activities were accomplished.

The GIS training for the eight students is intended to build a knowledge base at Unsyiah, so that the team working there may continue to grow by sharing their mapping knowledge. GMA is thus enabling UTFAR to go out and map specifically what they - local residents - deem most important at any given time.

The iQue M5 PDA's donated to Unsyiah for the mapping project, with GPS capabilities, allow a totally wireless and very portable means for data collection in the field. The software chosen for the project, ArcPad 6.0.3, is the latest version of ESRI's software for mobile GIS and field mapping applications using handheld and mobile devices. ArcPad Application Builder was also purchased in order to customize ArcPad for the data collection exercise. Application Builder allows users to design custom forms to streamline data collection and ensure data integrity in the field. When installed on the iQue PDA's, ArcPad is able to link with the GPS to collect data that is geo-referenced and may have numerous attributes associated with each record.



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