Since 2011, the GeoCenter has led USAID in applying a geographic approach to development. The USAID GeoCenter is an internal team of geographers and analysts who provide direct program support to USAID staff around the world. Geographic analysis and mapping help illuminate where need is the greatest to inform development decisions about where to prioritize placement of international development programs. 

The GeoCenter team applies geospatial technology, data analytics, and visualization techniques to improve the strategic planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation of Agency programs. Using geographic, economic, and demographic information, the team generates custom analyses and maps for USAID field Missions and technical offices in Washington, D.C. Ultimately, the GeoCenter is building the capacity of USAID to make data-driven decisions to improve development outcomes in countries where USAID works. This interactive story map provides further insight into the work of the GeoCenter. 

Check out this video to learn more about the USAID GeoCenter and the geographic approach to development.

Mapping, Analysis, and Visualization 

Geospatial analysis involves analyzing metrics related to poverty, demographic trends, health conditions, household shocks, education levels, natural resources, and budget information within a country where USAID works. The GeoCenter conducts these kinds of analyses, consults with USAID sector experts, and maps the results. This informational video highlights the impact of the geographic approach to development on the USAID Kenya field mission. Visualizing different data sets through custom-made maps has improved coordination among offices and has become a routine aspect of how the field mission makes decisions.

Creating a Data-Driven Culture at USAID

The GeoCenter builds USAID’s capacity to use geospatial data and analytics for development decision-making. GeoCenter team members provide training courses to Agency staff in the geographic approach to development, support a USAID network of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialists in missions around the world and in Washington, D.C., and establish standards for collecting activity location data.

A New Generation of Digital Mapping 

Using web-based digital mapping technology, the GeoCenter is empowering a new generation of university students around the world to create new geospatial data in unmapped places. The new mapping data is used by USAID projects to address food security, malaria prevention, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDs, land titling, flood preparedness, conflict prevention, and other development challenges. The program, known as YouthMappers, invests in young leaders to create resilient communities and to define their world by mapping it.