Visualizing hunger in the Horn of Africa

A map made with open data shows the extent of the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa.

Drought, conflict and rising food prices have put the lives of millions of people in the Horn of Africa at risk. Today, on World Humanitarian Day, citizens and governments alike are looking for ways to help victims of the East Africa drought. According to the State Department, more people than the combined populations of New York City and Houston need urgent assistance in the Horn of Africa. To understand the scope of the unfolding humanitarian disaster, explore the embedded map below.

The map was built by Development Seed using open source tools and open data. It includes estimates from the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) and the Food Security and Nutrition Survey Unit – Somalia (FSNAU), coupled with data from the UN Office of Humanitarian Coordination and Affairs (UN OCHA). The map mashes up operational data from the World Food Program with situational data to show how resources are being allocated.

“This is about more than just creating a new map,” writes Nate Smith, a data lead at Development Seed:

This map makes information actionable and makes its easy to see both the extent of the crisis and the response to it. It allows people to quickly find information about how to easily contribute much needed donations to support aid efforts on the ground, and see where those donations are actually going. In the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme can feed one person for one day with just $0.50. Using this map it is possible to see what is needed budget wise to feed those in need, and how close the World Food Programme is in achieving this. Going forward, new location and shipment data will be posted in near real-time, keeping the data as accurate as possible.

Development Seed has also applied a fundamental platform principle by making it easy to spread both the data and message through social tools and embeddable code.

If you’d like to donate to organizations that are working to help people directly affected in the crisis, has posted a list of charities. If you’d prefer to donate directly to the World Food Program, you can also text AID to 27722 using your mobile phone to give $10 to help those affected by the Horn of Africa crisis.


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