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Satellite mapping aids Darfur relief

Getting relief supplies to where they are needed is a logistical issue. Aid workers trying to house, feed and clothe millions of homeless refugees in the Sudanese region of Darfur are getting a helping hand from advanced mapping technology.

A European consortium of companies and university groups known as Respond is working to provide accurate and up to date maps. The aim is to overcome some of the huge logistical challenges in getting supplies to where they are needed.

Respond is using satellite imagery to produce accurate maps that can be used in the field rapidly.

“Respond has produced very detailed maps for example for the road networks, for the rivers and for the villages, to more large-scale maps useful for very general planning purposes,” said Einar Bjorgo from Unosat, the UN satellite mapping organisation that is part of the Respond consortium.

Humanitarian groups in Darfur have been making good use of Respond’s maps. They have come in especially handy during Sudan’s rainy season, when normally dry riverbeds, or wadis, became flooded.