Crisis Mapping for Monitoring & Evaluation

I was pleasantly surprised when local government ministry representatives in the Sudan (specifically Kassala) directly requested training on how to use the UNDP’s Threat and Risk Mapping Analysis (TRMA) platforms to monitor and evaluate their own programs.


The use of crisis mapping for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) had cropped up earlier this year in separate conversations with the Open Society Institute (OSI) and MercyCorps. The specific platform in mind was Ushahidi, and the two organizations were interested in exploring the possibility of using the platform to monitor the impact of their funding and/or projects.

As far as I know, however, little to no rigorous research has been done on the use of crisis mapping for M&E. The field of M&E is far more focused on change over time than over space. Clearly, however, post-conflict recovery programs are implemented in both time and space. Furthermore, any conflict sensitivity programming must necessarily take into account spatial factors.


The only reference to mapping for M&E that I was able to find online was one paragraph in relation to the Cartametrix 4D map player. Here’s the paragraph (which I have split into to ease legibility) and below a short video demo I created:

“The Cartametrix 4D map player is visually compelling and fun to use, but in terms of tracking results of development and relief programs, it can be much more than a communications/PR tool. Through analyzing impact and results across time and space, the 4D map player also serves as a good program management tool. The map administrator has the opportunity to set quarterly, annual, and life of project indicator targets based on program components, regions, etc.

Tracking increases in results via the 4D map players, gives a program manager a sense of the pace at which targets are being reached (or not). Filtering by types of activities also provides for a quick and easy way to visualize which types of activities are most effectively resulting in achievements toward indicator targets. Of course, depending on the success of the program, an organization may or may not want to make the map (or at least all facets of the map) public. Cartametrix understands this and is able to create internal program management map applications alongside the publicly available map that doesn’t necessarily present all of the available data and analysis tools.”

Mapping Baselines

I expect that it will only be a matter of time until the M&E field recognizes the added value of mapping. Indeed, why not use mapping as a contributing tools in the M&E process, particularly within the context of formative evaluation?

Clearly, mapping can be one contributing tool in the M&E process. To be sure, baseline data can be collected, time-stamped and mapped. Mobile phones further facilitate this spatially decentralized process of information collection. Once baseline data is collected, the organization would map the expected outcomes of the projects they’re rolling out and estimated impact date against this baseline data.

The organization would then implement local development and/or conflict management programs  in certain geographical areas and continue to monitor local tensions by regularly collecting geo-referenced data on the indicators that said projects are set to influence. Again, these trends would be compared to the initial baseline.

These program could then be mapped and data on local tensions animated over time and space. The dynamic mapping would provide an intuitive and compelling way to demonstrate impact (or the lack thereof) in certain geographical areas where the projects were rolled out as compared to other similar areas with no parallel projects. Furthermore, using spatial analysis for M&E could also be a way to carry out a gap analysis and to assess whether resources are being allocated efficiently in more complex environments.

Next Steps

One of my tasks at TRMA is to develop a short document on using crisis mapping for M&E so if anyone has any leads on applied research in this area, I would be much obliged.

Patrick Philippe Meier

4 responses to “Crisis Mapping for Monitoring & Evaluation

  1. Pingback: morning links. at Where They Are

  2. Pingback: Proposing the Field of Crisis Mapping « iRevolution

  3. This is very interesting. The MDG Monitor Project is precisely what you are talking about—creating a visual baseline using geo-spatial maps and SNA so that we can monitor—and evaluate–changes over time (the “history”) and place (the “geography’) of initiatives, activities, social conflicts, as related to the Millenium Development Goals—-in short, social change around the world.

    One of the things I find fascinating about what you posted re M&E is the logic of your phrasing. From my view as a sociologist, I would phrase in reverse– methodologically, I see crisis mapping as a subset of M&E data collection in general, as they are using the same analytic and synthesizing methods and tools. I say this because analytically social crises emerge—or are the result of, larger social trends most often related to issues of power, authority, legitimacy, social status, mobility, etc. .

    Thus crises mapping is a tool to monitor specific forms of social action within a society—“conflict”— and good M&E should be able to provide evidence of what has caused the conflict, who has control over the conflict related activities and where the conflict has occurred. In addition good M&E should be able to provide broader insights into the conflict so that SOLUTIONS to the conflict can be developed. Thus I would offer that what you are doing is ultimately more than “crisis mapping” but rather “SOCIAL MAPPING” . It seems to me that the essence of your work is to go beyond conflict and find solutions and ways to build peace…..

    In any case, it is absolutely fantastic all the work that is going on—and very, very imporant!! See you in Cleveland.

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