Tag Archives: Africa

Crisis Mapping Africa’s Crossborder Conflicts

My colleague Dennis King just sent me update on the Humanitarian Information Unit’s (HIU) project, “Africa: Conflicts Without Borders 2007-2008.”

Instead of the usual depiction of conflicts as countrywide and defined by national boundaries, this map displays distinct conflict-affected areas in Africa as sub-national and transnational pockets of insecurity, violence, and armed aggression.  Areas of conflict were drawn around locations of reported conflict incidents in 2007 and 2008, as well as concentrations of internally displaced persons and cross-border rebel bases and refugee camps in neighboring countries.

This depiction of areas of conflict more accurately displays where conflict has been occurring in Africa and the sub-national and transnational nature of these conflicts.  In a follow-on project, this new visualization will be used to analyze the relationship between conflict and geo-spatial factors that are also not related to national boundaries, such as topography, natural resources, demographic distributions, and climatic hazards.

A PDF of the map below is available here.


The map categorizes conflict-affected areas into three types of conflict:

Armed Conflict, Inter-communal Strife, and Political Violence.  In many cases, armed conflicts and political violence are based on inter-communal strife.  The locations of violent food riots, pirate attacks (as of October 2008) and targeted attacks associated with terrorism during 2007-2008 have also been plotted on this map.  Disputed border conflicts are also identified on this map.

HIU zoom

As I have suggested in earlier blogs, I continue to be surprised that crisis maps are still shared as PDFs or JPGs. The above data should be made available in KML with a simple interface that enables users to query the data they are visualizing. At the very minimum, we should be able to visualize the data over time. I find static data less and less compelling in the context of crisis mapping.

For a Google Earth Layer of the above map, please see my follow up blog post.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Satellite Imagery, Mobile Phones and Radios

Earth Observation System Launches in Africa: the SERVIR system integrates satellite resources into a web-based Earth information system, putting previously inaccessible information into action locally.

“A satellite birds-eye view can provide an overall picture of a natural disaster and its consequences,” said Dr. Tesfaye Korme, director of remote sensing and geographic information systems at RCMRD. “The new SERVIR-Africa platform comes just in time to provide us with the satellite data to develop maps of last week’s flooding in western Kenya and eastern Uganda, and estimate the number of displaced people.  We will provide this information to the authorities responsible for disaster response.”

For early warning in advance of events, SERVIR-Africa is developing tools to predict floods in high-risk areas and vector-borne diseases such as Rift Valley Fever. It will also provide visualization capability to map the location of climate change projections so people can see, for example, the potential impact climate change may have on the land resources where they live.  In addition, SERVIR-Africa’s information technology team will use the Internet to serve up satellite and ground-based earth observations, map data, and geospatial analyzes that target issues such as urbanization, biodiversity threats, and management of natural resources.  Mobile phones and radio, too, will be explored as a means to deliver useful information to people.
I’m particularly pleased to read that mobile phones and radios will be explored (and hopefully used) to deliver information at the community level.