Improving Access to Clean Water in Sub-Saharan Africa

GIS Used to Explore the Spatial Dimensions of Public Health

…from the Winter 2009/2010 issue of ArcNews

Clean drinking water is hard to find in Mayange, Rwanda.

That’s why a group of university students and two professors from the University of Redlands (U of R) in Redlands, California, traveled to this African region. Using the GIS technology and GPS equipment they brought along, they mapped the area’s water sources and collected water use information. Their survey is helping improve access to clean drinking water in the community and in similar communities across sub-Saharan Africa.

The maps are useful in providing local sustainable development programs with accurate locations of where people get their water. For example, the data can be used to identify areas where water sources are contaminated and support decisions about improving water quality, such as how to protect an open pit water source or where to dig a new water source. Ultimately, this field collection and mapping model may be used for mapping other water networks in Rwanda and other parts of Africa and to contribute to the implementation of sustainable practices in impoverished nations.