The Mapping Invisible Populations Project by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in collaboration with Flowminder and Humanitarian Open Street Map
The Mapping Invisible Populations project is an innovative initiative by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), created in collaboration with Flowminder and Humanitarian Open Street Map. The project was developed in 2023 with the central aim of providing support services to hard-to-reach populations. This initiative primarily targets fragile and conflict-affected areas which may receive less medical and other humanitarian support. Using satellite imagery mapping techniques and GIS methodologies provided by its partners, the Mapping Invisible Populations project gathers satellite and spatial data and combines it with population estimates analyzed by its partners to determine the location of these underserved populations. Subsequently, these estimates are verified by community informants for further corroboration. The objective is to identify populations living in areas that are large enough to justify IRC investing resources, time, and risk to provide medical and humanitarian assistance.
The Mapping Invisible Populations project focuses on areas where no humanitarian organization has a presence due to insecurity. Such areas often lack essential, up-to-date demographic data, including census information, displacement data and settlement locations. Accurate population data provides an essential basis for developing access and delivery strategies for the IRC’s support services. Once a clear methodology is established, the IRC hopes to replicate it in other regions, allowing for the identification of new settlements. One of the most significant aspects of this project is its potential to bring much-needed attention to communities in need of greater visibility and support.