Crisis in the Horn of Africa - community mapping

In the wake of intense drought, the Horn of Africa is gripped by the worst famine in more than 60 years. Over 12.4 million people across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are threatened with malnourishment and disease as they are unable to access basic means of survival. Although the UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations are rallying to provide support, particularly to the thousands fleeing Somalia for refugee camps, the current state of emergency is hardly near its end. 

“This will not be a short crisis,” stated the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Valerie Amos.  The emergency is expected to persist at least three to four months, and the number of people needing humanitarian assistance could increase by as much as 25 percent.

You can learn more about the Crisis here --

Why Maps are important in a Crisis?

The first step in any emergency situation, including the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis, is for response and humanitarian agencies to get a quick picture of the type & extent of an emergency, greatest needs, vital resources & assets available, and who is doing what, where. Fresh and accurate maps provide vital information to all levels of relief and humanitarian agencies to facilitate emergency assessment, response, and strategic planning.

What can you do to assist? Help create maps for humanitarian and relief orgs

For the Horn of Africa Crisis, you can help in creating detailed maps using your local knowledge of places, such as cities, roads, bodies of water and other natural landmarks. The map data that you contribute  will be shared periodically with the UN agencies which are engaged in this crisis. You can also help mapping by pairing up with people who have local knowledge - they can review and correct your edits.


How to get started?
In case you are new to Map Maker, here is a Map Maker
introductory video and Getting Started Guide - just in case you need it.

Where to map?
  • Start with the Areas of Interest (AOIs) maps below, which include camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and the city of Mogadishu (Somalia). These AOIs were identified with UNOSAT based on the well-documented & public UN and humanitarian relief activities in the Horn of Africa. 
What to map?
  • If you have local knowledge around these AOIs, please prioritize mapping in these areas. Begin by connecting camps to the surrounding cities and by mapping places (hospitals, schools, community centers), roads, cities, and hydrologic features (e.g. seasonal streams and other water bodies). 
  • You can also increase the accuracy and visual richness of existing data:
    • If there is a point marked for an establishment with a building, turn on the satellite imagery, zoom in and plot the polygon around the building.
    • If there is a road marked, turn on the satellite imagery, zoom in and ensure that the road is very closely and accurately aligned to the satellite imagery.
    • If a polygon/shape already exists for a lake, park, building and so on, turn on satellite imagery, zoom in and increase the accuracy of these polygons.

How to support and partner with others?
  • You can also help by reviewing others’ edits within the Map Maker tool. Here is a video about reviewing edits on Map Maker.
  • If you want to help mapping but don't have local knowledge or if you have local knowledge and want to partner with a mapper so together you can map the area much more quickly, connect with others on the Map Maker Africa Forum.
How Google Map Maker data is being used for the Horn of Africa Crisis?

Supplemental Terms of Service

Your use of Map Maker is governed by the terms of service. Although the Terms prohibit users from entering information obtained from third party sources, such as directories or printed maps, into Map Maker, the following data sources have been explicitly approved for users to enter into Map Maker, so you may use them as the basis for your mapping efforts.

(1) Road, (2) connectors, (3) cities & towns over Ethiopia and Somalia from Population Services International - Please map in these regions.



Humanitarian Community Areas of Interest


Link to a MyMaps of these AOIs
KMZ that includes imagery (GeoEye-1 and IKONOS) acquired by Google

Mapping Areas of Interest - Horn of Africa




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