Informing Humanitarian Action with GIS in Al-Za’atari Camp

June 19, 2014

zaatari panoramaRow after row of tents and containers line sandy roads dotted with power lines. In the distance you can see football fields and markets.  This sprawling urban area, spanning over 20km2, is Al Za’atari Refugee Camp, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Using innovative surveying techniques with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, Al Za’atari is also the most mapped refugee camp in the world.

Inside the camp, refugees have tried to create homes in caravans and large canvas tents. Many have already spent a few years here, and hundreds continue to arrive each week.

Al Za’atari opened in July 2012 and was originally meant to host 20,000 people. Its population now stands at 86,000, having peaked at 120,000 in May 2013. It remains one of the largest urban areas in Jordan. The humanitarian aid effort is an immense challenge; every refugee needs shelter, food and water, access to sanitary and cooking facilities, medical aid, education and a safe environment.  The Jordanian winters are cold, wet and sometimes snowy, and the summers are hot, dusty and dry. Read more