Mapping Subnational Boundaries: The GRID3 Approach

Linda Pistolesi (Columbia University, CIESIN)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that all countries need a modern national data system to locate their most vulnerable populations and learn which interventions work better towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). High-quality geo-referenced data supports informed decision-making and effective resource allocation by governments, non-profits, companies, and others to address near- and long-term needs. Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3), an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, works with governments and local stakeholders in low-and middle-income countries to generate, validate and use geospatial data on population, settlements, infrastructure, and boundaries in support of national development priorities, humanitarian efforts, and SDGs. Validated boundaries allow for efficient, evidence-based, place-based planning and implementation of development processes. Two strategies comprise the current GRID3 approach to improving subnational boundaries. One strategy, pursued in Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo, is to facilitate participation in the boundary-generation process by local managers and officials for whom the boundaries constitute a central part of their operational responsibilities. This enables boundary-generation work to focus on priority, sector-based needs, increasing the likelihood that the boundary work will lead to improved development outcomes. The other strategy, pursued in Zambia, supports boundary delineation by facilitating coordinated, integrated participation across government institutions that have formal authority for managing boundaries. Each strategy addresses different priorities and needs, adapts to resources in-hand, and promotes participation of government and local stakeholders in GRID3 countries.