The global human population is growing by over 80 million a year, and is projected to reach the 10 billion mark within 50 years. The vast majority of this growth is expected to be concentrated in low income countries, and primarily in urban areas. The effects of such rapid growth are well documented, with the economies, environment and health of nations, amongst others, all undergoing significant change.

 

High resolution, contemporary data on human population distributions are a prerequisite for the accurate measurement of the impacts of population growth, for monitoring changes and for planning interventions. The AfriPop project was initiated in July 2009 with an aim of producing detailed and freely-available population distribution maps for the whole of Africa.

 

Based on the approaches outlined in detail here, here and here, and summarized on the methods page, fine resolution satellite imagery-derived settlement maps are combined with land cover maps to reallocate contemporary census-based spatial population count data. Assessments have shown that the resultant maps are more accurate than existing population map products, as well as the simple gridding of census data. Moreover, the 100m spatial resolution represents a finer mapping detail than has ever before been produced at national extents.

 

The approaches used in AfriPop dataset production are designed with operational application in mind, using simple and semi-automated methods to produce easily updatable maps. Given the speed with which population growth and urbanisation are occurring across much of Africa, and the impacts these are having on the economies, environments and health of nations, such features are a necessity for both research and operational applications.

 

Spatial databases of human population have found use in disease burden estimation, epidemic modelling, resource allocation, disaster management, accessibility modelling, transport and city planning, poverty mapping and environmental impact assessment amongst others. Whilst high-income countries often have extensive mapping resources and expertise at their disposal to create such databases, across the low income regions of the world, relevant data are either lacking or are of poor quality. For many countries in Africa, the last significant mapping efforts occurred in the 1960-70s. The scarcity of mapping resources, lack of reliable validation data and difficulty in obtaining high resolution contemporary census statistics remain major obstacles to settlement and population mapping across the low income regions of the World.

 

Coming soon:

 - Age and gender structured Africa population distribution datasets

 - Multiple year Africa population distribution datasets using sub-national growth rates

 - AsiaPop: Population distribution datasets for Asia

 - The Human Mobility Mapping Project: Maps and models of human movement built on         AfriPop datasets

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