Maps of slum schools, broken pipes draw change
By Stella Dawson
WASHINGTON, June 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Erica Hagen started mapping schools in the sprawling Nairobi slum of Kibera, she was surprised by their sheer number. Primary education is free in Kenya, yet its poorest people were supporting hundreds of informal, private schools.
By geotagging the schools crammed into ramshackle huts and tucked down dirt alleyways, Hagen created a map that starkly depicts how Kenya's free education system was failing to reach the neediest. She also made the informal school system visible.
The map from Africa's largest slum, home to some 250,000 people, has become a tool for community activists to campaign for better education, to focus government resources where needs are greatest, said Hagen, director of GroundTruth Initiative.
Projects like hers connect data points to reveal hidden patterns. It is a technique the World Bank and development agencies are beginning to use to better inform their decisions on how to spend development dollars effectively.
Dan Runfola, a geospatial scientist for the AidData project at the College of William and Mary, used data to help answer the question: Do legal rights to land help people protect their natural resources?
The World Bank, USAID and other development agencies pour money into land titling projects in the belief that legal rights to land are an anti-poverty tool that empowers people to make better decisions over how to use their resources.
So Runfola mapped a forest community in northern Brazil that had received land title, overlaid it with daily satellite images of forest cover and compared the results to a community without secure land rights.
The combined data maps, known as mashups, revealed a decline in deforestation rates for the land-titled community. Continuación...