VIII.Food Insecurity Mapping Project in Khulda, Bangladesh

Interaction type Government→Public→ Government
Trigger event
Domain mapping of the Khulna District in Bangladesh as a part of an agricultural program.
Organization “Mapping for resilience”
Actors U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Geo Center, Khulna University, U.S. Students, Youth Mappers, Locals.
Data sets High resolution satellite Imagery, GPS tracks and OSM.
Process Tracing on high resolution satellite images, collection of spatial and attribute data and importing all data in OSM.
Feedback OSM indicating the transportation network and the water bodies in the vulnerable area of Khulna.
Goal Map the unmapped Khulna district and improve land management and agricultural production.
Side effects
Impact of the project Impact in a local level
Temporal pattern Temporal pattern
Funding of the project U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Contact point

Various crowdsourced projects run in Bangladesh to support different aspects of daily life currently, however this project is among the completed ones, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by Youth Mappers, students of Khulda University and Locals. The project is a part of the “Feed the Future” agricultural program run by USAID and its main target was to map the water bodies, the man-made water catchments and the transportation network. The USAID is interested in Bangladesh because it “is one of the most densely populated and climate change-vulnerable countries in the world”.

The project ran in Khulna district and its aim was to map the area and improve land management and agricultural production. Mapping was focused on mapping linear and area features such as rivers, ditches, ponds, buildings and the road network. Four categories for pathway line features and four different types of water features using both area and lines were used. According to youth mappers (2017) home page, “Data were created for USAID and its partners working with rural farming villages, especially women, to help communities in the Khulna District improve land management and increase agricultural production in order to improve food security and children’s nutrition” (Youth Mappers, 2017).

Training of students and Locals was based on workshops and extra tips were given online at the home page of the project. Editing of tracks was done in OSM and made available to the public. Once the basemap was finished using satellite imagery, the students visited the area of interest to collect attribute and spatial information such as the locations of bodies of water. USAID aims using this project to better understand who has access to enough nutritious food to live healthy lives. According to youth mappers’ a posteriori evaluation of the work, among the main challenges that they had to face is that the Government of Bangladesh had not taken any imitative to promote open source development previously. All actions on OSM have been carried out by individuals or small groups. Moreover, software firms in Bangladesh mostly use the map services from Google and Yahoo for application development rather than making their own products. Under this situation, OpenStreetMap lags behind (Bangladesh Food security, 2017).

Mapping was proven difficult due to the poor quality of existing satellite imagery, the complex waterway system in rural areas, the dense population in urban areas and the monsoon seasons that alter the look of the satellite images. Youth mappers underline that the waterway system is further complicated due to the existence of man-made constructions in every private yard and the irrigation ditches can be easily misclassified to roads. To overcome these challenges, custom imagery from the Image Geo Center, were used side-by-side Google Maps. Satellite imagery which used was taken during the dry season. Also, Locals contributed with their knowledge.

This project ran under the umbrella of “Mapping for resilience” program that has been established by Geo Center – a branch of USAID that offers technical assistance – and supported students in the U.S. and Khulna University to jointly work and map Khulna district through “mapathons”. It also provides high resolution satellite imagery for the creation of the basemap which may be shared in near-real time on the OSM platform. This workflow and the philosophy behind it have been adopted in various projects with success.

Main Lessons:

  • Foreign Nations such as U.S may fund a crowdsourced project in a developing country in order to solve a problem such as nutrition.
  • Climate may be a great obstacle in satellite imagery and should be taken into consideration when a period is chosen to collect data.
  • Governmental ethical policy may affect project’s penetration to the crowd.
  • Local software companies may cultivate also attitude towards open- source software.