USAID is starting to take a new approach to the data we release – from the types of data we release to the public, to the ways we actually release it.
On Monday we launched a new campaign to raise awareness about the crisis in the Horn of Africa and, with it, released a set of open-source maps. Sharing this data in an interactive format allows visitors to our site to visualize the crisis in a whole new way and will in turn, we hope, help to create new ideas and solutions for fighting famine and drought.
Today, we want to highlight some of the ways other organizations have used this data released by USAID.
If you have seen maps of the drought and subsequent famine in the Horn of Africa, including those from our FWD campaign, they probably include color-coded areas that show the extent and severity of crisis. The areas hardest hit by the drought and famine are usually shown in a deep red color and concentrated in southern Somalia, in regions currently inaccessible to humanitarian assistance. You also may have seen maps showing a decline in vegetation and rainfall levels over the past year.
The files and data used to make many of these maps come from two USAID-funded programs called the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, and the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, or FSNAU. These two early warning systems use various data sources to provide timely and rigorous early warnings to the humanitarian community on emerging and evolving food security issues.
We are pleased to see that many organizations have used this data over the last several months to spread the word about the drought and the millions of people affected.