Using GIS for Humanitarian Aid
Two years ago, I spent time working at a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) co-op in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. CSAs are small-scale local based farms that offer shares to receive weekly fresh produce. This allows the CSA to have better management of their crops because they are growing for a predetermined amount of people. However small, working for a CSA peaked my interest in sustainable food sources.
On a global level, food insecurity and sustainable food sources are
constantly effected by changing events, both human and natural,
affecting more than 90 million people worldwide (WFP, 2013).
GIS plays an important role by storing, manipulating and analysing data to manage food production and food security levels.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is a great example of a humanitarian organization who use GIS to organize data and do analyses to provide aid and relief to populations in need. To collect data they use georeferenced household surveys, which asks questions about water supply, crop yields, and market value of products, and they also compare satellite images from different seasons (WFP, VAM, 2012). Data is organized into quantitative data (populations, number of people affected, etc.) or qualitative data (geographic location, natural disasters, weather trends etc.) and it is used predict the status of each country’s needs.
I am interested in the data and how it is used to predict and provide a humanitarian service to people in need.
I’m excited that GIS can help better serve a growing population and help manage food security issues. While there are many ways GIS is used in humanitarian projects, I would personally like to be an analyst who uses the compiled data to make conclusions and suggestions as to where aid is needed the most. As populations grow and climates continue to change, it is essential to have a handle on which populations are in need, to what scale are their needs, and how we can provide aid if they are experiencing increased vulnerability.