Poverty mapping in sub Saharan Africa using night time light pollution

Davies, Kathleen and Alsop, Alfred and Bowes, Jonathan; (2021) Poverty mapping in sub Saharan Africa using night time light pollution. In: 2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2020. IEEE, Piscataway, N.J.. ISBN 9781728173887 (https://doi.org/10.1109/GHTC46280.2020.9342875)

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Night Time Light data from satellite imagery can give an indication of access to electricity, a key developmental enabler as recognised by UN Sustainable Development Goal 7. Given the well documented relationship between energy access and economic development, this paper investigates the relationship between night time light pollution and poverty in Sub Saharan Africa. Night time lights could offer an alternative, quick and visually impactful method of identifying under-developed areas, and facilitate more optimal allocation of resources. This paper details the methods employed to define the relationship between poverty and night time lights and to understand any influential factors in the correlation, the results of which are also discussed. The results showed that under certain circumstances Night Time Light pollution can be used as a proxy for poverty in Sub Saharan Africa. Factors such as the resolution and zoning of data and the type of indicator used to represent development all had an impact on the accuracy of Night Time Lights as a poverty proxy.