REACH is an initiative of Geneva-based think-and-do tank IMPACT, its sister-organization Agence d’Aide a la Cooperation Technique et au Developpement (ACTED), and the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT). Created in 2010, REACH facilitates the development of information tools and products that enhance the humanitarian community’s decision-making and planning capabilities.
The Al Za’atri camp in Jordan is the largest refugee camp in the world, with 71,227 refugees as of 2015. Originally designed to accommodate 20,000 refugees, the camp has grown in size as the situation in Syria has worsened. Al Za’atri camp provides residents with water sources, hospitals, schools, mosques, kitchens, restrooms, showers, sanitary dumps, and other facilities. Management responsibilities include distributing facilities throughout the camp, monitoring the condition and operation of facilities, and determining the need for additional facilities. Managing these facilities has become more challenging as the population grows and the service area expands.
REACH, ACTED, UNOSAT, and UNICEF
Challenge: Managing a growing refugee camp and equitably distributing facilities were becoming increasingly difficult.
Humanitarian leaders can better understand life inside and outside refugee camps and make decisions to improve living conditions.
In 2013, REACH began using GIS maps to familiarize refugees with facilities at the Al Za’atri camp. REACH geographic information system (GIS) experts created thematic maps in ArcGIS Desktop to show statistics for demographic data on Syrian refugees. They used the software to map all camp facilities and analyze accessibility. As part of this proximity analysis, the GIS team created polygons to calculate the number of tents served by a water tank, kitchen, restroom, or other specific facility. After calculating these statistics, facilities could be rearranged to provide equitable access.