GIS map of the Nairobi region, Kenya
GIS map of the Nairobi region, Kenya

Geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite remote sensing are integral parts of CDE's research and development approach, ranging from basic support with field maps, satellite images, and GPS surveys for participatory field-based approaches, to modelling and visualization of various spatial dynamics, and the development of customized tools for spatial data management. The geoinformatics unit offers customized consulting and implementation services to assist in-house programmes and projects as well as government officials, NGOs, and private organizations in Switzerland and in partner countries. Comprehensive GIS and Earth Observation projects have been realized in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia.


Dr. Albrecht Ehrensperger

Selected activities and products

Tool for satellite image preprocessing and composition

This online tool corrects topographic illumination effects and enables improved composition of satellite images (Landsat and Sentinel) with a minimum of user input. All users must do is select the extent of the study area and the desired image composition period. Afterwards, the tool automatically produces a topographically corrected, cloud-free composite image. It is ideal for easy visualization, analysis, and classification of land use and land cover changes, as well as for creation of maps for field visits or publications. More information


WLRC and CDE, with the support of SDC developped a web-based open-source platform for the dissemination of geospatial data maps and information on Ethiopia. The application contains three main web based services that enable: 1) Access to pre-processed maps, 2) Mapping of selected information layers using simple web mapping applications based on user preference, 3) Download of open geospatial data. To the platform

Cover of the Atlas

Socio-Economic Atlas of the Lao PDR: Patterns and Trends from 2005 to 2015

This new Socio-Economic Atlas of the Lao PDR provides readers with a highly detailed, multidimensional set of insights into geographic and temporal patterns of the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of the country’s population. It combines statistical data from the last two Population and Housing Censuses of 2005 and 2015 with geographic information to present a wealth of new information on a large set of highly detailed thematic maps. E-Book and Download (Issuu)

Atlas of Agriculture in the Lao PDR

The Atlas of Agriculture in the Lao PDR

The first ever agricultural atlas for Laos – the Atlas of Agriculture in the Lao PDR – contains detailed data on changes in the country’s agricultural production during the first decade of our century. It is intended to serve in the planning, decision-making, policymaking, and implementation of sustainable agriculture and sustainable rural development. The atlas was created jointly by CDE and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Laos, with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. It is available in Lao and English. Download

Poverty Mapping and Socio-economic Atlas of the Lao PDR

Socio-Economic Atlas of the Lao PDR: The bilingual atlas analyses the socio-economic situation in the country and is a follow-up to the successful Socio-Economic Atlas of Vietnam. Understanding patterns such as the incidence and den-sity of poverty can help define policy making. The atlas is intended to reach as wide an audience as possible. It provides interested general readers, students and researchers, and policy- and decision-makers with information on the socio-economic characteristics of the Lao population.
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The Lao DECIDE Info Project

The Lao DECIDE info Project seeks to stimulate data and information sharing between relevant sectors and administrative levels to improve evidence-based socio-economic planning and decision-making in Lao PDR. Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the project supports the Lao Department of Statistics in providing user-friendly statistical and spatial data to a wide range of users. Through a set of practical tools and procedures, the project provides web-based open access to detailed socio-economic data and information in various formats.
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Socioeconomic Atlas of Vietnam

This atlas presents a comprehensive set of maps depicting a wide range of socioeconomic aspects of the population of Vietnam. All the maps based on census statistics included in this atlas are represented at the commune level, which provide a very detailed picture of spatial patterns in demography, education, employment, culture and living conditions. 
Socioeconomic Atlas of Vietnam (pdf, 15.6 MB)

GIS Kenya Atlas

Socio-Economic and Poverty Atlas of Kenya

Together with its partners in Kenya, CDE released the first-ever Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya. The atlas features high-resolution spatial depictions and analyses of data collected in the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. The combination of geographic and socio-economic data enables policymakers at all levels, development experts, and other interested readers to gain a spatial understanding of different dynamics affecting Kenya. By supplying precise information at the sub-location level and summarizing it at the county level, the atlas facilitates better planning that accounts for local contexts and needs.
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GIS Ogiek

The Ogiek Peoples Ancestral Territories (OPAT) Atlas

The OPAT Atlas demonstrates how spatial technologies can be used to safeguard the territorial rights and interests of indigenous communities against contemporary forces of tenure dispossession, cultural erosion, and resource degradation in Africa. Spatial tools can help to alter existing community power relations by generating and documenting information that could be used to develop appropriate responses to local socio-economic and political issues. The OPAT atlas is, therefore a suitable tool for local planning and governance of territorial assets and conflict management.
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Sudan Capacity Development in Geoinformation Management

In early 2002, CDE began providing updated demarcation and geo-hydrological maps of the Nuba Mountains. In 2004, they followed this with provision of comprehensive geospatial databases and thematic maps to support peace missions undertaken by the international community in Darfur, Abyei, and Southern Sudan. As part of the project, a map shop and a web-based GIS tool were developed. More than 150,000 people have obtained information from the “Sudan Map Download Site” so far. Reports, hardcopy maps, digital map files, and individually compiled desktop maps are available.
Download Maps from Sudan Map Shop 

GIS map of Madagascar

Madagascar: Beyond deforestation monitoring in conservation hotspots

Due to its extraordinary biodiversity and rapid deforestation, northeastern Madagascar is a conservation priority of global importance. Reducing shifting cultivation is a high priority for policy-makers and conservationists; however, spatially explicit evidence of shifting cultivation is lacking due to the difficulty of mapping it with common remote-sensing methods. We adopted a landscape mosaic approach to assess the changes between natural forests, shifting cultivation and permanent cultivation systems. Our findings confirm that shifting cultivation is still being used to produce subsistence rice throughout the region, but there is a trend of intensification away from shifting cultivation toward permanent rice production, especially near protected areas.

map of Mongolia

Detecting land degradation and regeneration in Mongolia

This study was based on an analysis of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data recorded by two sensors on board the NASA's Terra and Aqua platforms. It explored 11 years of MODIS 16-day composite Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series to detect land cover change – in particular land degradation and regeneration areas in Mongolia. The study demonstrated that MODIS NDVI time series analysis is suitable for detecting vegetation change areas both large and small and, hence, for identifying land degradation and regeneration in Mongolia.