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Summer 2004
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Pakistan Publishes GIS-Based Social Sector Atlas Series

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan recently introduced its GIS-based social sector atlas series, which includes both the Education and click to enlargeSchool and the Health and Population Welfare Facilities Atlases.

The atlas series is available in both CD and book formats and has been widely distributed throughout Pakistan to help district authorities and humanitarian agencies plan and execute their respective services more effectively.

The project is a cooperative venture between the Centre for Research on Poverty Reduction and Income Distribution (CRPRID), the Islamabad Planning Commission, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

It took approximately two years to complete the extensive work of data collection, mapping, and layout development. Esri's ArcView 3.x GIS software was used in the preparation of the atlases.

The process of gathering information for the atlas series revealed a variety of interesting statistics. For example, the locations of more than 170,000 primary schools and 5,230 basic health units throughout the country were established as well as the residential areas of those sectors of the population that have virtually no access to those facilities.

Comments Dr. Mushtaq Khan, director of CRPRID and the person credited for originally developing the idea for the atlas, "We have approximately 4.5 million children of school age in this country who are currently not attending classes. In addition, each year there are approximately three million children who are eligible to start school. I believe that the atlas will help us make better use of our existing resources and build additional facilities where they will be the most effective."

The atlas series is being used by various agencies to determine the availability of public services throughout the country and identify those regions in need of expanded facilities. Having basic facility location information allows researchers to perform various analyses to support decision making and policy formulation.

Concludes Khan, "We wanted to provide something to our country's planners and decision makers that would help them administer our social programs more effectively. I believe that our GIS-based atlas has provided them with exactly the right tool."

For more information, contact Uzma Rubab, CRPRID (e-mail:

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