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IN SUPPORT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: GIS USE FOR POVERTY REDUCTION TASKS

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Abstract

To achieve the goal of poverty reduction, as encapsulated within the Millennium Development Goals, the collection, analysis, and use of geographic information as it relates to the multidimensionality of poverty offers a starting point. The spatial handling of poverty is an emerging paradigm for which researches on the spatial modelling of poverty are required. Attempting to contribute to a better understanding of poverty mapping, this paper examines GIS suitability for use in poverty application areas. GIS analysis functions most appropriate for use in specific poverty mapping tasks are examined. The uses are identified as data integration of socio-economic, environmental, cultural data, etc.; delineation of areas lying within a specified threshold distance from selected features or places; deriving further data from spatial analysis for multivariate analysis of poverty; deriving straight-line and network distances; visualisation and presentation of the results of poverty analysis. Special emphasis is placed on ways in which GIS is being used and its suitability for poverty reduction tasks to help draw out some relevant methodological and policy lessons.
IN SUPPORT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: GIS USE FOR
POVERTY REDUCTION TASKS
Felicia O. Akinyemi
GIS and Remote Sensing Research and Training Centre, National University of Rwanda
P.O. Box 212, Butare, RWANDA
- felicia.akinyemi@cgisnur.org - fakinyemi@yahoo.com
WG VII/7
KEY WORDS: Geographic Information System, Poverty Management, Spatial analysis, Visualization, Overlay analysis, Digital
mapping
ABSTRACT:
To achieve the goal of poverty reduction, as encapsulated within the Millennium Development Goals, the collection, analysis, and
use of geographic information as it relates to the multidimensionality of poverty offers a starting point. The spatial handling of
poverty is an emerging paradigm for which researches on the spatial modelling of poverty are required. Attempting to contribute to a
better understanding of poverty mapping, this paper examines GIS suitability for use in poverty application areas. GIS analysis
functions most appropriate for use in specific poverty mapping tasks are examined. The uses are identified as data integration of
socio-economic, environmental, cultural data, etc.; delineation of areas lying within a specified threshold distance from selected
features or places; deriving further data from spatial analysis for multivariate analysis of poverty; deriving straight-line and network
distances; visualisation and presentation of the results of poverty analysis. Special emphasis is placed on ways in which GIS is being
used and its suitability for poverty reduction tasks to help draw out some relevant methodological and policy lessons.
1. INTRODUCTION
Halving world extreme poverty (1.2 billion people) by year
2015 has been made the first and most prominent of the 8
United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDG) thus
making the issue of poverty reduction a global challenge.
Harnessing the potential of GIS-based ICTs (Information and
Communication Technology) for poverty reduction is
imperative. Poverty is a multidimensional problem which is
best tackled using a multidisciplinary approach. It includes low
income, low food consumption, ill-health, reduced life
expectation, poor education, lack of assets, limited access to
natural resources, low social status, lack of political voice, poor
access to ICT, social services and welfare facilities. With
poverty levels varying within and between countries or regions
of the world, the fact remains that the different manifestations
of poverty are as a result of the interplay of myriads of factors
over time (such as geography, history, ethnicity, access to
markets and public services and public policy (See Figure 1).
Figure 1 reveals that poverty is multidimensional and the
indicators are numerous. With these dimensions closely related
one to another, indicators rarely occur alone as the presence of
one form of poverty appreciably increases the probability of
occurrence of all others (Akinyemi 2007a).
The multidimensional nature of poverty itself adds to the
complexity of its handling because actors in poverty reduction
often see poverty differently, both in their perception and
approaches. How poverty is handled very much depends on how
the problem is perceived and understood. Generally, poverty
measures can be broadly categorized as income (monetary)
based or non-monetary measures of poverty. The data
requirements and implementation costs differ for each method.
While monetary measures no longer have exclusive hold on our
attention, they remain central to analysis. The past two decades
of experience, though, reinforce the value of collecting health
and education data, as well as other social indicators that
describe broader conditions of poverty. Increasingly,
research
ers also find value in asking about subjective views of
poverty and in seeking input on poverty through participatory
exercises that involve participants from local communities.
Direct measures of access to basic services and infrastructure
also provide important inputs in the policy making process
(United Nations Forthcoming).
Recent studies showing the importance of spatial variables in
tackling poverty have promoted the use of poverty maps made
within a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment to
better understand who the poor are, where the poor are found
and to some extent, why and how long they have been poor.
Consequently, decision makers can better identify and
understand from maps, the socio-economic and development
variations among regions for planning purposes. This makes
poverty maps invaluable tools for poverty reduction especially
in their use for targeting poverty alleviation programmes (PAPs).
With appropriate scale and robust poverty indicators, poverty
maps can assist in the implementation of PAPs, making for
efficient allocation of resources. Using geographic targeting
techniques, as opposed to across the board subsidies, has been
shown to be effective at maximizing the coverage of the poor
while minimizing leakage to the non-poor (Baker and Grosh
1995 in Henninger 1998).
Spatial analysis of poverty has been utilized in a number of
policy and research applications ranging from targeting
emergency food aid and anti-poverty programmes to
assessments of the determinants of poverty and food insecurity,
in addition to providing visual representations of spatial
relationships between variables. Poverty mapping applications
have been used by organizations ranging from governments
(municipality, state/province, national) to non-governmental
organizations and multilateral development organizations.
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2. POVERTY MAPPING
Poverty mapping – the spatial representation and analysis of
indicators of human wellbeing and poverty – is becoming an
increasingly important instrument for investigating and
discussing social, economic, and environmental problems
(Henninger and Snel 2002). One of the main problems in
poverty mapping is to combine socio-economic data aggregated
by administrative boundaries with environmental data based on
natural boundaries. But despite these difficulties, combining the
data is important, because environmental data such as agro-
ecological zones, are often important in terms of food
production potential, market accessibility and vulnerability.
Geo-referenced measures of child nutritional status can also be
aggregated to aridity zones to examine the relationship between
child nutritional status and aridity (Henninger 1998).
2.1 Spatial Datasets for Poverty Mapping
The types of spatial datasets required for use in poverty
mapping depend on the way poverty is defined within context of
the application. Akinyemi (2007b), in a poverty mapping
measures in use, identified the most common spatial datasets as
land cover, normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI),
rainfall data, and soil fertility and quality. This finding is
confirmed by Hyman et al. (2005), who noted that soil
characteristics, topography, rainfall, evapotranspiration, and
vegetative vigor proved to be important explanatory factors in
describing poverty in several poverty-mapping studies.
Datasets on travel times to markets and distances to towns and
facilities are also important explanatory factors in poverty and
food security outcomes in several studies. A search of the
literature reveals that either a bottom-up or a top-down
approach to poverty mapping is used. The former uses socio-
economic data aggregated at the subnational level such as
survey and census data. Whereas the latter approach uses
satellite imagery, existing global environmental maps and GIS
models (see FAO 2002). The examination of GIS use for
poverty mapping in this study includes both approaches.
3. POVERTY MAPPING WITH GIS
The use of GIS to provide a spatial framework for poverty
mapping allows the use of new units of analysis, for example,
switching from administrative to ecological boundaries) and
access to new variables like community characteristics, not
collected in the original survey (see Henninger 1998). To
derive greater benefits in poverty mapping with GIS, it is proper
to identify available GIS functions. It is equally important to
identify those functions that are required but are not
traditionally available in a GIS. To successfully do these, the
types of analysis for which the GIS is needed must be known.
This involves identifying the types of analysis required for
poverty management (e.g. poverty assessment) and the
functions required of GIS to carry out the analysis involved. As
a prerequisite, to knowing the analysis to be carried out, the
information needed to be produced for poverty assessment must
be known.
Inability to keep
abreast of information
Lacking knowledge
of institutions
ICT & Internet
access ine
q
ualit
y
Information (Knowledge)
Low international
trade/indebtedness
Hunger/Food
insecurit
y
Low-Income/
consum
p
tion
Gender
ine
q
ualit
y
Ill-health/
Diseases
Maternal &
Under-5 mortalit
y
High-Illiteracy
rate
Inadequate
infrastructure
Monetary & Basic
(essential) Needs
Unemployment
Low participation –
social
economic
olitical
Rural & Youth
underdevelo
p
ment
Insecurity
Lack of
fair trial
Low asset
base
Low mutual aid,
solidarit
y
networks
Political & Social Exclusion
Soil and Land
degradation
Lacking agro-ecological
technolo
g
ies
Low agricultural
p
roductivit
y
Landlessness or no
access to land
Ag
ro-Ecolo
g
ical
Poverty
Indicators
Figure 1: The many dimensions of poverty and indicators (Source: Akinyemi 2005)
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The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Vol. XXXVII. Part B7. Beijing 2008
Defining the terms functions and analysis within the context of
GIS, functions are the operations that a GIS can perform. For
example, most systems contain functions for digitizing,
querying, and overlaying spatial data. Analysis is the process
used to explore the details of some phenomenon using the
system's functions. The types of functions a GIS system can
perform determine the possibilities for analysis (ESRI and TAL
2001, 2002).
Table 1 shows the objectives in most poverty assessment
activities, the GIS functions that are available and those
required in addition (the listed poverty assessment objectives
and GIS functions shown in Table 1 are by no means
exhaustive. The table is still under construction).
It is evident that the non-availability of some required
functions for poverty mapping, for example, poverty measures
is limiting GIS use. Core poverty assessment activities
presently have to be carried out outside the GIS environment.
Consequently, poverty analysis has to be done in other
software packages. The
poverty results are then brought into GIS afterwards for further
analysis and/or visualization. Where required functions for
specific poverty reduction analysis are not available, there is
the possibility to add these functions by customizing GIS
packages, for example, with ESRI ArcObjects. An example of
poverty related customizations of GIS is the SAS Bridge to
ESRI which adds the analytic intelligence of SAS to the
mapping capabilities of ArcGIS (see Tesfamicael 2005). For
other studies, see Manansala (1999), Hall and Conning 1991).
In our quest to identify GIS use and suitability for poverty
management tasks, we will look at some core GIS functions
and their uses in poverty mapping.
4. USING AVAILABLE GIS FUNCTIONS IN
POVERTY MAPPING
GIS use is important in poverty mapping for its data integration
capability. Data for poverty analysis come from various
sources such as census (with wider coverage of a country’s
population), household surveys, and agricultural surveys.
GIS functions and analysis
Poverty
assessment
objectives
Poverty mapping measures and indicators
Available Not available
Assess poverty
level using a
particular poverty
measure and
indicators
Econometrics – Small area estimation (current
consumption expenditures, income, and wealth);
Social – Unsatisfied basic needs (nutrition, water,
health, and education); Demographic (gender and
age structure of households, child nutritional status -
calorie intake, low height for age, low weight for
age, low weight for height, body mass index, low
birth weight, and household size and age structure);
Vulnerability (level of household exposure to
shocks, environmental endowment and hazard,
physical insecurity, empowerment, governance,
diversification and risk of alternative livelihood
strategies, structural inequities)
Distance measurement
with proximity analysis
e.g. distance from villages
to main roads, other
towns, health facilities;
multi-criteria evaluation
tools
Econometrics e.g. small
area estimation routines,
Foster-Greer-Thorbecke
poverty index; principal
components analysis,
factor analysis human
development indices -
human development
index, human
poverty indices
Relate poverty
patterns with socio-
economic,
environmental
variables, etc.
As in Poverty-biodiversity which relate poverty
with, for example, major tropical wilderness and
biodiversity hot spots; examine people’s
susceptibility to poverty
Overlay analysis for
understanding spatial
association between
variables; Ranking of
units of interest based on
a poverty indicator
Examine spatial
and temporal
variations in
poverty
Poverty dynamics – movement in and out of poverty Poverty time series maps,
dynamic mapping
Poverty dynamics
indices
Table 1: Poverty Assessment with GIS
The increasing number of variables from these different sources
used in poverty mapping applications shows the usefulness of
GIS for data integration. GIS use also includes the generation of
spatial variables such as distance measurement with proximity
analysis, for example, distance to nearest urban centre or health
facility; overlay analysis, for example, in seeking to understand
the association between land use type (change) and population
density or race (see Mennis and Liu 2005).
Below are some standard GIS functions used for poverty
mapping applications:
1. data integration - Integration of multiple databases from
different sources such as socio-economic, environmental,
cultural data, etc.
2. overlay - analysis of spatial association between variables
3. buffer - delineating the area that lies within a specified
threshold distance from selected features or places
4. query - deriving further data from spatial analysis such as
spatially generated explanatory variables as input for
multivariate analysis of poverty (such as distance to markets,
urban centres and facilities)
5. visualisation and data presentation
The uses of these GIS functions in poverty mapping are treated
in details in the next subsection.
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The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Vol. XXXVII. Part B7. Beijing 2008
4.1 Data Integration
A GIS allows a wide variety of data integration forms. One
layer of data (such as districts) can be presented on top of
another (such as climate zones), not only to create a visual
display but also to generate a new data set in which each point
has attributes from the two original data sets. The points in the
integrated data set can then be used to analyze social, economic,
and spatial relationships using either cross tabulations or formal
statistical and econometric methods. Thus, for example,
information on the distance from a village to an urban centre
can be combined with area-based soil data in order to assess the
agricultural potential of rural communities; information on the
road network can be combined with information on population
density to generate indicators of transportation density for each
district (Bigman and Fofack 2000).
4.2 Overlay
Overlay is of exceptional use in poverty mapping, such as the
overlay of different datasets in a health related poverty
application, for example, rivers, treatment areas,
settlement/village are needed for identifying high risk
population. Overlaying poverty maps atop maps of local
infrastructure (schools, health clinics, hospitals, water supply
facilities, and roads) may improve the understanding of poverty
dynamics, shed more light on the possible constraints to growth
and poverty reduction, and improve priority setting, impact
assessment, and policymaking (Fofack 2000).
Overlaying data on stunting rates in under-age 5 children (a
proxy for poverty) and that of amphibian species and endemic
bird areas helps to highlight spatial correlations and disparities
between the datasets. With these areas where high percentage of
underweight children coincide with a high occurrence of
amphibian species and endemic bird areas may indicate areas in
which poor people likely have no other choice than the
unsustainable extraction of resources, which in turn threatens
biodiversity. The highlighted areas can then be given the
highest priorities for poverty alleviation and conservation (Snel
2004). Henninger and Snel (2002) analysed the correlation of
some Human Development Indicators (HDI) surrogates with the
marginal condition factors using point and polygon overlay
analysis functions in Arc/Info and Arc/View software. For each
HDI sample point, a geographically referenced value was
extracted from each thematic layer.
4.3 Buffer
This involves delineating the area that lies within a specified
threshold distance from selected features or places. Buffers can
then be created around selected features (e.g. health facilities,
school, village, water point) for specific rates to be computed
(e.g. calculate population, number of disease cases, or
prevalence within a radius, see WHO 2003).
4.4 Query
The use of GIS query tool is also very important. GIS allows
querying based on attribute or by location and both selection
methods are appropriate for use in poverty mapping. Since
most data in use are socioeconomic or demographic variables
derived, for example, from a census, these data are linked to
geographic units appropriate to the levels of data publication.
Linking of socioeconomic and/or cultural data to a specific
location makes the data available for spatial analysis, which in a
sense makes such data spatial (Akinyemi 2007b).
Queries can be applied that use the features of one layer to
choose features in another layer such as distance from village to
urban centres, travel times to markets and distances to facilities.
Utilizing such measures of distance and physical accessibility is
increasingly important in poverty mapping studies, since
income generation for small-scale farmers, for example, often
depends on distances to markets and associated transport costs
(Van De Walle 2002, Jacoby 2000, both cited in Hyman et al.
2005).
4.5
Visualization and Representation
The Geostatistical tool in ESRI ArcGIS is useful in
visualization for the better understanding of data used for
mapping poverty. Spatial units of use in poverty mapping could
be represented as dots or represented as polygons e.g. census
tracks, enumeration areas. Graphical representation of point
data can be used to convey information about other data
dimensions by plotting them as symbols that may vary in size,
shape, colour, hue or saturation.
GIS also provides a function that let you construct histograms
of the classification scheme with which the data is represented
on a map. The classification histogram aids the visualization of
how attribute values of features are distributed across the
overall range of values. If the data is multidimensional, this
technique can not only improve the clarity of the graphical
display but also portray information about the data in ways that
may induce viewers to discover patterns or trends. When the
number of data points is large, representing aggregate numbers
of a variable in the same area using graduated symbol mapping
for example, is not appropriate as it is difficult to identify a
coherent pattern. In the alternative, such data representing
discrete objects can be treated as continuous. Bracken and
Martin (1989) cited in (Longley and Batty 2003) have suggested
that a field or surface approach provides a useful way of
handling socio-economic data.
Poverty maps are means of visually communicating the results
of poverty assessment. Most poverty maps are meant for
printing on paper such as hardcopy maps produced in reports
and atlases etc. which can be made available on the internet.
5. CONCLUSION
The immense value of GIS as the singular tool for
understanding human-environment interaction is resulting in its
increasing use. Consequent upon these increasing uses of GIS in
handling poverty and other social problems, it became
necessary to examine GIS suitability, for example, in poverty
assessment and to identify where enhancement of GIS
functionalities is required. Most common GIS uses were
identified as data integration, delineation of areas lying within a
specified threshold distance from selected features or places,
deriving further data from spatial analysis for multivariate
analysis of poverty, visualisation and presentation of the results
of poverty analysis in the form of maps.
The uses we just identified help to demonstrate GIS suitability
for poverty mapping applications. Some of the functions
required for poverty mapping, although absent in today’s GIS,
can be added by implementing some econometric (income
poverty) and anthropometric measures (human poverty) within
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The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences. Vol. XXXVII. Part B7. Beijing 2008
GIS. Enhancing GIS capabilities for poverty mapping is
important so as to facilitate finding answers that will help in
policy formulation and implementation for poverty alleviation
using spatial relationships. According to Sui (2002), the
development of appropriate policies for reduction and eventual
eradication of poverty and hunger hinges on the extent to which
we can delineate the spatial patterns of hunger and poverty.
Identifying which conceptual and methodological gaps to be
filled in the spatial analysis of poverty is essential in enhancing
GIS use. These researches can contribute to developing
procedures for GIS use in development related application areas
which can facilitate the achievement of the MDGs. It is also
necessary to evaluate how appropriate and effective these
procedures are in various context. These are some of the
research areas that need to be continually investigated for the
spatial sciences to contribute to the poverty mapping literature.
Spatial scientists are best suited to provide the spatial tools and
the theoretical base upon which poverty mapping practitioners
can build applications.
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The importance of poverty reduction to the world development agenda has motivated greater interest in the geographic dimensions of poverty and food security. This special issue of Food Policy includes examples of poverty and food security mapping used to support policy development in agricultural and rural areas. The volume includes eight country case studies and one cross-country comparison that illustrate advances in our capacity to assess welfare over large areas and at detailed spatial resolutions. Poverty mapping facilitates assessments of the role of environmental factors on the broad spatial pattern of poverty and food security. Evaluating proximity and accessibility in welfare outcomes can improve our knowledge of poverty patterns and processes. Spatial statistics can enhance our understanding of geographic and neighbourhood effects on poverty and food security outcomes. The development of effective policies requires increased collaboration among stakeholders, researchers and policy makers in constructing and using poverty and food security maps.
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Policymakers use poverty maps to design and assess poverty programs. The accuracy of these maps, which is critical for targeting, depends largely on the nature of the instrument used to construct them. Recently, in response to tight budget constraints, many countries have begun to construct poverty maps based on light monitoring surveys that rely on short questionnaires. This article shows that poverty maps constructed from such surveys are not accurate and could result in substantial leakage. Light monitoring surveys do include large samples that can help to target poverty programs at subregional levels. Combining these surveys with more detailed Integrated Surveys can help researchers reduce targeting errors significantly and build improved poverty maps with finer levels of disaggregation.
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In the face of rising public deficits and shrinking public resources, geographical targeting may be a viable way to allocate resources for poverty alleviation in developing countries. Efficiency can be increased and leakage to the nonpoor reduced substantially by targeting increasingly smaller areas. This article, and more generally the symposium on geographical targeting for poverty alleviation, proposes several techniques for augmenting data to produce more detailed poverty maps. It focuses on practical considerations in the design of geographically targeted poverty alleviation programs. In particular, it assesses the advantages and disadvantages of geographical targeting and describes how geographic information systems can be applied to improve poverty mapping.
Poverty-conservation mapping applications. IUCN World Conservation Congress Available at http://www.povertymap.net/publications GIS and Spatial Analysis Tools for Poverty and Food Insecurity Mapping
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Snel, M.,2004. Poverty-conservation mapping applications. IUCN World Conservation Congress, Bangkok, Thailand. Available at http://www.povertymap.net/publications/doc/iucn_2004/poverty -biodiversity.pdf Sui, D. Z.,2002. GIS and Spatial Analysis Tools for Poverty and Food Insecurity Mapping. Working Paper No. 7, Environment and Natural Resources, Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.