Mapping Niger: Data Collectors Map Routes to get Malaria Medicines to rural Health Facilities

Rural health facilities in Niger struggle to maintain enough health commodities to meet the needs of their patients. Health workers at these facilities will often resort to any method they can find to get commodities, whether it’s by taking public transport or using their personal vehicles, pulling them away from their primary responsibility of providing health services to patients.

Sometimes they receive their commodities, sometimes not — it’s neither reliable nor predictable. For the supply chains that serve them, these challenges are compounded by maps that lack accurate information on the location of health facilities.

This lack of information became evident after Niger became a PMI focus country in 2018 and USAID, on behalf of PMI, started working with the government of Niger on plans to distribute malaria commodities to communities as part of a USAID supply chain project.

“Google Maps had some roads, but not all,” said Eric Coulibaly, USAID’s PMI resident advisor. “Some facilities looked like they were islands in the middle of a desert.”

Data collectors Djibo Boureima, Ibrahim Salifou Maman Sani, and Abdoulaye Ali take GPS coordinates outside an integrated health center in Niger. GPS coordinates collected at each site enable accurate planning and distribution of health products to each health facility. / USAID

Without accurate maps, it was impossible to plan delivery routes, estimate costs, or schedule deliveries. So using the data collected by Rachidatou and her colleagues, USAID mapped roads and geographic coordinates for all sites. Then they entered the information into OpenStreetMap, an open-source and editable world map used for the production of paper and electronic maps, geocoding addresses and place names, and route planning.

In addition, team members worked with senior government officials to demonstrate how the data can identify more efficient and strategic models for last-mile delivery. The data collected and the modeling sessions are a first step in identifying efficiencies and solutions for warehousing and distribution that can be used to inform Niger’s national supply chain strategy.

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