The report highlights the use and impact of poverty maps -- the spatial representation and analysis of human well-being and poverty indicators -- in 14 countries and identifies lessons that can guide future poverty mapping efforts.

Executive Summary

This report is based on detailed case study notes from 14 countries.

Poverty mapping -- the spatial representation and analysis of indicators of human well-being and poverty -- is becoming an increasingly important instrument for investigating and discussing social, economic, and environmental problems. Decision-makers need information tools such as poverty maps to help them identify areas where development lags and where investments in infrastructure and services could have the greatest impact. Once largely the domain of economists and social scientists, poverty maps are now being used by policymakers and many non-governmental entities, including civil society groups, academic institutions, and private businesses. However, the new and diverse applications of poverty mapping emerging over the past five years have not been well documented.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with UNEP/GRID-Arendal has conducted a study examining the uses and impacts of poverty maps. Drawing on case studies from 14 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the report reviews how poverty maps were used and some of the factors constraining their use in a wide variety of geographic and institutional settings. From such experiences come lessons that can guide future poverty mapping initiatives in other countries. Recommendations aimed at national and international actors sketch a plan for sustaining poverty mapping in the countries studied and expanding its frontiers to all developed and developing countries.