Original Paper

Population and Environment

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 68-97

First online:

High-resolution mapping of rural poverty and famine vulnerability in the Sahel: a possible approach for the Republic of Niger

  • John GrolleAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Saginaw Valley State University Email author 

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Conventional approaches to mapping poverty and vulnerability rely on statistical techniques for analyzing national census results in conjunction with much smaller auxiliary data sets. The resulting low-resolution maps offer only limited explanations for the causes of poverty/vulnerability, especially those related to the physical environment. Scientists have mapped land cover performance (or “land degradation” or “desertification”) on national scales using satellite remote sensing, but their efforts have rarely been incorporated into poverty/vulnerability mapping endeavors. This paper describes an alternative, comparatively low-cost approach that could make possible poverty/vulnerability mapping at high resolution across the inhabited territories of entire Sahelian countries. The new hybrid approach calls for close collaboration between a team of remote sensing scientists and a team of field workers engaged in social science, earth science, and biomedical research. Maps produced through this approach should help in targeting programs to alleviate poverty and could improve the efficacy of famine early warning and mitigation.


Poverty mapping Famine vulnerability Remote sensing Fieldwork Sahel