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Our consortium supports the talents of the world’s university faculty and students to expressly link supply and demand for knowledge by addressing specific needs for geographic information to specific development objectives in targeted countries, creating new, quality, localized geospatial data in unmapped places of the world where USAID works to end extreme poverty. 


This effort for the first time leverages academic community involvement to synergize with and fill a unique niche among an expanding set of efforts by a growing set of actors related to volunteer humanitarian or crisis mapping by promoting scholarly analysis using open spatial data for resilience. We promote and encourage for the open spatial data created on platforms such as OSM to be used in meaningful research and analysis in ways that directly address specific international development challenges. Students and faculty can also use this data in their own research in a great variety of disciplines.

What does this method involve?


This signature method involves consultations by the GeoCenter with Mission-based technical offices, to determine their needs.   After assessing the needs of each technical team through in-person interviews, the GeoCenter researches available datasets, selects appropriate variables, generates statistical correlations, and maps them.  Mission staff are engaged in an iterative manner throughout the entire analytical process. The result is customized maps, posters, and animations with statistically significant information about each type of livelihood shock. 

What is Livelihood Analysis?


Maps are powerful visual products used to communicate messages quickly and clearly.  Livelihood Analysis & Mapping is a signature method that the USAID GeoCenter uses to analyze drivers of human vulnerability in countries where USAID works.  The method combines statistical analysis of livelihoods data collected from national surveys with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to produce maps of vulnerable areas, inside the national boundaries of a country.  For this method, vulnerability is defined as “the likelihood of a household experiencing a shock or major disruption to their livelihood system.”

​How is this method different from poverty mapping?


Poverty mapping generally uses income data, or substitutes for income, to plot where poor people live.  It rarely conveys information about the livelihoods of the poor or how those livelihoods are vulnerable to various kinds of shocks, such as abrupt changes in weather, the economy, health conditions, food prices, agriculture, etc. Livelihood Analysis & Mapping starts with human livelihoods to generate information that can be used to find solutions to increase human resilience. 

How does Livelihood Analysis and Mapping help USAID Missions?


The map products resulting from this signature method can help USAID decision-makers better geographically target development interventions, and can help illuminate what kind of sector-based development assistance is needed in specific areas of the country.  In a tight budget environment, this method is especially useful because it provides a data-driven justification for determining how and where to program limited funding.  The maps provide context for selecting project locations, determining each sector’s level of effort by geography, or justifying the mix of sector-specific activities.

Research methodology development activities are led by co-founding consortium member West Virginia University under the leadership of CoPI Dr. Brent McCusker.

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