Our Story


Today, food security in many nations is threatened by climate change and long-term drought, the effects of war on supplies of staples from Ukraine, and the damage to global supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has therefore become apparent that mapping to benefit food and water security organisations, that support small farmers in Africa, would be a worthy strategic focus where we could place all energies since small farmers represent the major employment in developing countries and are often at the mercy of unreliable rainfall and drought.

This is so that policymakers, development donors, and aid organisations can benefit from the visual knowledge we supply and spend their time and energy resources better, upon helping small farmers boost their crop yields.

The Roots of MapAid

The roots of MapAid go back to mapping small business support in Kosovo in 1999 by a local team, which benefitted development agencies working on job creation, so vital to peace-building.

However, it was conceived in 2003 at the end of Rupert Douglas-Bate’s fellowship at Stanford University, sponsored by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, when his team of students & faculty won a prize at the Business Association of Stanford Engineering Students summer competition. Out of a field of some 30 contenders, the project came in the top three and won $5,000.

The fellowship team, which consisted of 23 students and some faculty, then decided to start a social enterprise not-for-profit. Everyone was asked to suggest names and a blind ranking was made. Out popped the name “Global MapAid“. While we knew we wanted to “map poverty solutions” we have been slowly evolving our ideas since that moment.

Recent History

In 2011, after the Arab Spring, we decided our hot focus must be to map solutions that underpin sustainable job creation, with a youth focus, as across the world over 620 million youth are not in employment education or training - and from this problem, violence and social unrest may inevitably occur.

From January 2020 we commenced development on an exciting AI system to map shallow groundwater in Ethiopia. Our mission is to promote clean drinking water, irrigation and increased food supply.

Our AI groundwater map is one vital tool to help donors and aid agencies understand better where to put wells, and so reduce the risks and costs of shallow well programs. In terms of community benefits, irrigation will double or even triple crop yields, provide new jobs in food chains, and help families move out of poverty into the cash economy. Other community benefits include the empowerment of women and children, who no longer have to lug heavy water cans each day, while irrigation supports increased soil carbon which supports soil fertility and climate change mitigation.

During the 2020 global Covid pandemic, we also made maps to help inspire hope and support front-line workers, as this seemed the best way we could help.

Look through our history of projects and see what we've achieved over the years.

Learn more about our Chairman and Founder: Rupert Douglas-Bate

  • 2021-2023

    Diligent work continues among the partners, week by week and the prototype is almost completed. By 2022 the new system is called “WellMapr©”. GMA builds a dream team of technologist volunteers, to complement the superb AI scientists and water scientists from the university partners. During 2023, the Czech Geological Survey, from the Czech Academy of Sciences, starts to join the partnership, bringing valuable geological expertise.

  • 2020

    USA: George Mason University AI Mapping

    GMA unites Arba Minch University Water Technology Institute of Ethiopia, and George Mason University Center for Resilient & Sustainable Communities of the USA. The mission is to enhance drinking water and food supply for small farmers, by developing an AI for groundwater mapping prototype, to help cost-efficient placement of shallow wells.



     World & UK: Coronavirus & Youth Unemployment Mapping


    Global MapAid makes a hope map showing community and medical response to COVID-19 in the UK, and tracks  coronavirus cases and deaths throughout the UK and the world. In May as COVID-19 appears to be easing, mapping is accomplished to show youth unemployment and youth opportunities in order to illustrate those who will be hit hardest by the unemployment effects of COVID-19.



     UK: Rebrand


    Global MapAid rebrands as “MapAid” and enlists a team of fantastic volunteers with specialisms in social media, marketing and graphic design to achieve this goal.


  • 2019

    Ethiopia: Irrigation Mapping Research


    Visit to Ethiopia, to consolidate partner organisations, and write an enquiry paper on the case for shallow borehole mapping, that led to a presentation to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in November.


    UK: Burns Night Fundraiser


    Building on previous success, GMA throws another fabulous Burns Night Dinner Dance fundraiser at the Wheatsheaf Pub, Chilton Foliat.

  • 2018

    Ethiopia: Irrigation Mapping Research


    Short visits to local partners in Ethiopia, to confirm their continued commitment and also their leadership role in irrigation support map project, GMA being just an encourager.

    Fundraiser Burns: Britain


    GMA pivots away from formal fundraising and throws a Burns Night Dinner Dance at the award winning Wheatsheaf Pub, Chilton Foliat.

  • 2017

    Ethiopia & UK: Irrigation Map Applications


    GMA makes five formal applications to large “innovative donors” for support for irrigation mapping in Ethiopia and British projects. Success eludes, however GMA perseveres. GMA remains grateful to our donors large and small.


    US & USA: Google


    Google gives a generous grant for Adwords, to promote the website, thus adding to the credibility and reach of GMA.


  • 2016

    Ethiopia: Study Map Mission


    Short study to further update and consolidate plans, in partnership with the UK Space Agency and UK Space Applications Catapult. We gathered together several excellent local partners, including the University of Arba Minch, Water Technology Institute, Vita Ireland, Bioeconomy Africa, The Ethiopian Women’s Exporters Association, North South Consulting and the Ethiopian Space Science Technology Institute.


    Brussels: Devex World


    Consolidation of plans for East Africa working with the World Bank and EU personnel. Attendance at Devex World 2016 to share summaries of these plans. Rebrand of GMA with new logo and website.

  • 2015

    Nepal: Evaluation Map Mission


    Social Enterprise Solutions Mapping Project. GMA staff complete an intensive mission to Nepal, to gain partners and assess how mapping social enterprise providers could help. Creating a proposal to map entire country, building local partners.

    USA: Research on Poverty Indices


    GMA staff complete courses on the Challenge of Global Poverty at the Jamal Poverty Action Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also complete Mapping for Social Good at TechChange.


  • 2014

    South Africa & Britain: Research on Mapping Job Solutions


    GMA staff complete MBA business studies at Henley Business School on Global Social Enterprise, studying drivers of sustainable enterprise development and small-scale capitalism, which will be mapped.


  • 2011-2013

    Ethiopia: Microcredit Mapping


    Mapping levels of microcredit in Addis Ababa. Creating a proposal to map entire country, building local partners.

    UK: Vocational Education & Unemployment Mapping


    Mapping vocational education in relation to unemployment poverty. A remote team in Britain & Ethiopia accomplished this task.

    Egypt: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Primary objective to set up local team to create maps of poverty and solutions to poverty.

  • 2010

    Haiti: Emergency Map Mission


    Primary objective to research locations and boundaries of vocational and trade training programmes and schools.

    Afghanistan: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Mapping Assessment Mission. Field visit to Kabul to evaluate the domain of sustainable job creation job survey and mapping.

    Zimbabwe: Mapping Assessment Mission


    5,000 schools in Zimbabwe to be digitally mapped, by volunteer efforts.

    USA: Bentley Donation


    Donation. 1,600 GBP donated by Bentley Systems Inc. for future Haiti mission.


  • 2009

    South Africa: Desmond Tutu, Patron


    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and great champion of Humanitarian causes, becomes Patron of GMA.


    Zimbabwe: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Field visit to initiate Schools & Hospital mapping. Partnerships made with the Movement for Democratic Change Ministers for Health & Education.


  • 2006-2008

    UK: Charity Registration


    GMA in the UK is registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales.

    South Africa: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Planning for a branch project. Executed a street children’s mapping project in Port Elizabeth.

    UK: Donation


    Donation of 5,000 GBP for core travel funding, from a British millionaire, Mike Edge, from the Bath leadership group ‘Footdown.’


    USA: Geographic Emergency Response Vehicle


    Negotiations with Americorps VISTA. Attempt to build a ‘Geographic Emergency Response Vehicle’ to make maps of poverty. Project mothballed, due to recession hitting corporate donors.


    Nepal: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Collaboration with National Society for Earthquake Technology.

    Brazil: Online Mapping


    GMA and volunteers from University of Fortaleza, create an online mapping collaboration tool: WikiMapAid.org, ‘the Wikipedia of humanitarian mapping’ for mainstream non-technical users.


    Emirates: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Field visit to the Emirates, to open dialogue with Emirati government about a local GMA team.

    UK: Humanitarian Map Icons


    GMA created a brand new set of humanitarian map icons.

    Pakistan: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Making maps for the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy, an indigenous not-for-profit, to guide donors and other visitors to their projects (after the earthquake in October 2005). Secured a reliable church-based Field Partner, God’s Vision Ministries, with whom we have co-written a proposal for an overseas GMA team.


  • 2005

    USA: Hurricane Katrina Emergency Mapping


    Rapid deployment to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005, to collect data and make 50,000 maps showing victims where to get aid, as well as food distribution maps for the American Red Cross vehicles.

    Read more about this mission here….


    Indonesia: Post-Emergency Map Mission


    A Short Term Training Mission: Equipping and training the University of Syiah Kuala, Bande Aceh with mobile data collection devices, post-tsunami, led by GMA volunteer Erin Kees, which took place after the December 2004 tsunami.

    USA: Donation


    The software mapping company ESRI gave GMA valuable software.


  • 2004

    US: Charity Registration


    Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati (Google’s law firm) gave 18 months of pro-bono support to have GMA registered as a ‘501(c)3’ read ‘American charity.’ After registration, an initial 34,000 USD was raised for the training and initial deployment in Pakistan, Indonesia and New Orleans, Louisiana. Vodafone US Foundation and Omidyar (eBay) Foundation.

  • 2003

    South Africa: Mapping Assessment Mission


    Assessment Mission. GMA visited with long term work intentions.

    USA: Donations


    GMA was generously supported by the Vodafone US Foundation and the Omidyar Foundation with startup funding.

  • 2002

    USA: Fellowship Humanitarian Mapping


    At Stanford University, Rupert Douglas-Bate was funded 70,000 USD for a Reuters Digital Vision Programme fellowship in humanitarian mapping technology. It won a cash prize of 5,000 USD.