GeoCenter
Recent Projects

Comprehensive GIS and Data Analysis Support for Rwanda

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Over a year long period of TDY and remote technical assistance, the GeoCenter helped the Rwanda Mission to better inform their programs by enhancing their ability to collect, analyze, and apply data.  Our assistance contributed to implementing partners having better means to coordinate their activities in the field and the Mission having greater insight about fertility rates that are beginning to inform the design of new family planning programs.

First, the GeoCenter co-designed a custom tool to visualize information on where partners supporting the Community Health and Improved Nutrition (CHAIN) project are working and what interventions are occurring throughout Rwanda.  These data are being used both by the partners to develop integrated work plans to maximize collaboration and coordination as well as the Mission to prioritize future investments.

The CHAIN application was followed by helping the Mission to better use its program data for internal decision making.  The GeoCenter provided long-term technical assistance to an AidData Fellow helping the Rwanda’s technical teams to create custom maps and products to strategize Mission investments.  Our capacity building support is helping the Fellow and Economic Growth team to narrow the geographic focus of the Feed the Future Zone of Influence, deliver trainings for the Mission staff on data collection and analysis, visualization, and geographic thinking to increase familiarity with data across the Mission.

Finally, the GeoCenter helped the Mission understand the state of fertility and family planning conditions.  By analyzing and mapping household survey data, we learned factors that may change the Mission’s ability to influence high and unchanging fertility rates despite program interventions.  The analysis revealed Protestant women were less likely to use modern contraception compared to similar Catholic women, regardless of age, assets, or education.  This information is being used to help design a new family planning and maternal and child health activity.
 


Inaugural YouthMappers Leadership Fellow Workshop

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In May 2017, GeoCenter staff participated in the first YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship workshop in Nepal. Hosted by Kathmandu Living Labs, the international workshop brought together a select group of 20 student mappers from 15 universities around the globe. Chosen for their demonstrated leadership potential, technical abilities in open mapping and strong communication skills, fellows received professional development, mentorship from international experts and opportunities to engage in community building with other participants. GeoCenter Director Carrie Stokes, USAID YouthMappers lead Chad Blevins and Geospatial Network Coordinator Mariam Chaudhry worked with professors from Texas Tech University, George Washington University and West Virginia University supported students at the workshop through capacity building and training efforts with the goal of enriching local chapter activities and ensuring connectivity across the YouthMappers network. Contact: Chad Blevins (cblevins@usaid.gov).

 

Futures and the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives

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The GeoCenter's Futures Team recently participated in an Agency-wide Webinar, sponsored by USAID's Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI), with more that 30 participants listening in and asking question worldwide. CFBCI promotes equal access of faith and community based organizations to participate in U.S. Government-funded development assistance and seek ways to connect these leaders and organizations directly with USAID Missions. CFBCI highlighted Bosnia as a "case study" because it still remains deeply divided along ethnic lines. To remedy this, the Mission is actively engaged in programming to bring about ethnic and inter-religious dialogue to support reconciliation. The Futures Team was asked to join the Webinar based on its extensive scenario planning work for the Bosnia Mission and in-depth experience with a number of other Balkan countries, including Kosovo and Albania, facing similar challenges.  

 

Scenario Planning: Albania Edition

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The GeoCenter's Futures Team recently completed another successful Scenario Planning (SP) Workshop in Albania on their sweep through the increasingly high profile Europe and Eurasia Bureau. This includes SP in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, and ongoing planning for Kosovo.  As SP field-demand grows, Missions are increasingly reaching out to our State Department colleagues and host-country government officials, to widen the circle of inputs needed to generate -- "Country Drivers of Change" -- which are at the heart of good SP.  USAID/Albania, recognizing the importance of soliciting the widest array of inputs, took SP to new heights last month by arranging for a one-on-one meeting with US Ambassador Donald Lu to hear his views on Albania's future five and ten years out.  Building on that success, USAID/Albania arranged for a high level SP meeting with the Office of the Prime Minister and five Deputy Ministers from Agriculture, to Urban Planning, to Energy, Finance and Social Welfare Ministries. This was a working session, not simply a protocol meeting. Hosted by Albania's Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Niko Peleshi, this SP meeting proved exceptionally valuable.

 

ADS 201 Performance Monitoring: Integrating Geographic Data Collection and Analysis in the Program Cycle

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The GeoCenter recently collaborated with PPL/LER to develop an "Additional Help" section for ADS 201.3.5.7 G Indicator Disaggregation to provide USAID operating units with the guidance they need to incorporate geographic data and analysis into routine performance monitoring. Geographic data and analysis add an important geographic element to common performance monitoring questions. Instead of just asking "Is an activity over- or under-performing?", geographically disaggregated performance monitoring data allows us to ask more useful questions, such as "Does an activity’s performance vary across the geographic area where it is implemented?" and "Where is an activity over- or under-performing? What contextual factors may influence this?" Asking and answering these questions can strengthen the practice of monitoring and adaptive management. Learn more about Data Disaggregation by Geographic Location on USAID Learning Lab.

 

Geographically Prioritizing Investments to Increase Accessibility to Emergency Maternal and Child Health Services

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In 2013, approximately 40,000 women in Nigeria died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the second most among all countries. Increasing the accessibility to facilities that offer basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care is essential to strengthening the healthcare system and delivering the services that mothers and newborns rely on to survive and prosper. During the spring of 2016, the GeoCenter collaborated with the Bureau for Global Health's Saving Mothers Giving Life (SMGL) team, health experts from the Nigeria mission, and Gaia Geosystems partner, to analyze the accessibility of emergency obstetric and neonatal care in Kogi, Ebonyi, and Cross River states. The results helped to prioritize the locations where SMGL investments will most effectively ensure that every woman who develops a serious complication can access life-saving care within 2 hours of travel time. 

 

Data Analysis and Visualization Drives Decisions in West Africa's Regional Health Project Design

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West Africa is an immense and diverse region of 21 countries facing some of the most significant development challenges in the world, many of which cannot be solved by any individual country alone and thus require regional solutions. For example, addressing common public health challenges in the region, such as increasing access to quality family planning services, can best be achieved through regional cooperation and information sharing, while the movement of people across borders requires a regional approach to control communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola. To strengthen the Mission's effort in maximizing impact across the region with limited resources, the GeoCenter collaborated with the USAID/West Africa Regional Health Office to conduct a geographic analysis for project design during Spring 2016. The results of the analysis led to identifying 7 priority countries among the initial 17 and set the stage for data-driven activity design and adaptive performance management.

 

Creating Geographic Data to Support President's Malaria Initiative Activities in Mozambique

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Malaria accounts for nearly one third of all deaths in Mozambique and over 40% of deaths in children under five years old. Launched in 2005, the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) aims to reduce malaria-related mortality by 50% in 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) has been identified as a highly effective malaria prevention and treatment measure, but requires high accuracy and precision among sprayers to ensure success. To strengthen IRS activities under the President's Malaria Initiative in Mozambique, the GeoCenter is coordinating mapping activities in the Zambezia Province, which helps spray teams increase efficiency and maximize cost-benefit by document where spraying has occurred and targeting which locations should be sprayed. To bolster these mapping efforts, the GeoCenter has recruited participatory remote mappers through YouthMappers and connected Peace Corps Volunteers in the field to validate the map's accuracy. 
Contact: Chad Blevins (cblevins@usaid.gov).

 

Exploring Armenia's Energy and Water Resources

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Over the past two decades, USAID has made significant investments in the water and energy sectors of Armenia. Some of these programs created very useful reports about water and energy resources in Armenia...and yet, this wealth of information on Armenia's water and energy sectors is siloed in individual reports. To address this issue, USAID came up with the idea of developing a Water and Energy Web Atlas to compile and consolidate geographic information from a variety of sources. The goal was to provide a geospatial representation of Armenia’s energy and water resources to a wider audience. The web atlas was developed by the USAID Global Development Lab's GeoCenter, using Esri’s ArcGIS Online, Server, and Story Map technology. Brian Bakker, GeoCenter’s GIS specialist who developed the application, rolled out the atlas to Armenian stakeholders on November 12, 2015. Representatives from the Ministry of Nature Protection, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Energy, donor groups, academia, and other groups were present....(Read more) Contact: Brian Bakker (bbakker@usaid.gov).

 

The Future of Bosnia Out to 2025: Scenario Planning for Development 

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At the request of USAID's Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Rik Williams and Steve Gale from the GeoCenterPLUS's Futures Team, along with Jamais Cascio from the Institute for the Future (IFTF), helped the Mission chart out four distinct development narratives out to 2025 using scenario planning (SP) tools. These alternative views of the future of BiH will serve as powerful input as the Mission, partners, host country planners, and citizens develop the next Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS). The CDCS informs development assistance planning as well as budgeting, and resource allocation decisions, and the 2025 scenarios will help the Mission "stress-test" this strategy against possible alternative outcomes. An initial literature review and analysis of existing BiH scenarios set the stage for two in-depth workshops: one in Washington with experts from BiH and the diaspora, and a more comprehensive session in country, led by Mission staff.  Contact: Steven Gale (sgale@usaid.gov). 

 


Web-based Story Mapping for the Ebola Response

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At the height of the 2014/2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa, the GeoCenter in conjunction with USAID's Lab Ebola Team, developed a web atlas of demographic and health statistics for the affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The website was designed to assist donor agencies and implementing partners in planning Ebola response and recovery efforts.  The website contains a series of fifteen maps, covering topics like access to water, sanitation and communication technologies.  Contact: Brian Bakker (bbakker@usaid.gov).

 


 

Web-based Story Mapping for the Ebola Response 

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At the beginning of the 2014/2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa, access to communications technologies was critical for reporting of Ebola caseloads.  There was uncertainty regarding the level of cellular telephone coverage at health clinics in the affected countries. The GeoCenter responded by developing a web map that brought together the best known public information available at the time.  The resulting web map integrated the most recent cell phone coverage map for the region and overlaid it with information from a recent health clinic survey that reported the locations of health clinics.  The resulting project created a new information source for the agency response.  Contact: Mike Wissner (mwissner@usaid.gov).

 

GeoCenter supports the 60th Anniversary of Food for Peace

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In 2015, the GeoCenter was asked to develop products for the 60th Anniversary of the Food for Peace (FFP) Initiative. The first product is a time lapse video showing FFP Global Food Assistance over time from 1956 until 2013 and was featured at the annual FFP conference.  The second product visualizes the same data with an interactive dashboard that disaggregates food assistance expenditures by fiscal year and recipient country.  Both products can be accessed here:
Time Series Video Showing FFP Global Food Assistance over Time
Interactive Dashboard Showing FFP Global Food Assistance 
Contact: Tim Essam (tessam@usaid.gov) or   Brian Bakker (bbakker@usaid.gov)