Photo: CHF



CHF Using GPS to Help Poor in Vietnam

You’ve probably heard of GPS, or global positioning systems. From anywhere in the world, GPS helps you determine locations by using satellites orbiting the earth. It is used by scientists, delivery drivers, sailors and even lumberjacks to navigate, locate, track or map.

But did you know that GPS helps CHF’s work with poor rural communities? In fact, GPS is an essential tool for monitoring the success of CHF’s project in Vietnam.

According to Karim Alibhai, CHF Regional Director for Asia, “In our Vietnam project, we begin by sketching out maps that show the location of each household in a community. We use GPS to confirm the location of the houses, as well as to locate gardens, fields, roads, rivers and mountains near to them.”

Once the houses and surrounding features are accurately mapped, CHF determines a measure of well-being of each household, as identified by the communities themselves. In partnership with the community, CHF records each household’s assets, such as:

  • The number of cows, pigs and buffalos each household owns;
  • Access to water and other natural resources;
  • The size of their rice paddy field; and
  • The total amount of rice crop they produce.

Using this information, each household is then coded with a category of well-being — such as poor, hungry or average. Each household is then colour-coded and marked on the map.

“By repeating the community mapping process at different stages of the project, we can see whether households’ lives are improving. Using GPS and the information we collect, we can see whether their assets are increasing or decreasing over time. We might, for example, see households moving from hungry to poor, or poor to average,” explains Alibhai.

“Combined with satellite images, we can also show whether their natural resources are degrading or improving — all of which affects the community. Together, we can better monitor and continue to develop our programs for these Vietnamese communities.”