short facts EO4HumEn


Project Title

EO4HumEn: EO-based services to support humanitarian operations: monitoring population and natural resources in refugee/IDP camps

Project partners



Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS, Salzburg, Austria [Project leader]
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Austria, Programme Department
Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Department of Geography and Geology, Salzburg, Austria
University Tübingen, Department of Geography, Germany [Subcontractor]




Austrian Research Promotion Agency (German: Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft or FFG) under the Austrian Space Applications Programme (ASAP 9, Nr. 840081)

Duration October 2013 – March 2016
Budget 475,000 €


Project objectives

The overall objective of the EO4HumEn project is to develop operational, EO-based services and products in support to humanitarian action and relief support.

The products will be developed in line with user requirements, which are being assessed and defined within the project.

From a technical point of view robust, automated methods of image analysis routines should be developed for population estimation, identification of potential groundwater extraction sites and monitoring the environmental impact of refugee/IDP camps. The derived products will be technically validated and provided via a web-portal for visualization.

Overall concept of the EO4HumEn project

With respect to the need for (geo-)information, humanitarian relief activities can be divided into three phases: (1) emergency relief, (2) care and maintenance (monitoring) and (3) repatriation/resettlement (rehabilitation). These phases come along with different needs: (1) short-term needs (0-6 months) during the emergency relief phase, (2) mid-term needs (0.5 to 5 years) during the care and maintenance phase and (3) long-term needs (> 5 years) during the care and maintenance as well as the repatriation or resettlement phase.

The EO4HumEn project aims at addressing such short- and mid-term needs.

When taking on a humanitarian mission the relief community often has only very limited knowledge of the area, the number of people involved, their distribution, and condition, etc. As a result, in the emergency phase, information about the population in need (i.e. population numbers, densities, camp size) and potential (ground) water resources in the vicinity are urgently required (short-term needs).

Rapid population expansion within an area and an increase in refugee/IDP activities such as firewood collection, use of water sources, agricultural activities, etc. often lead to overexploitation of natural resources and put enormous pressure on the environment. Particularly in areas where livelihoods and food security depend on the availability of natural resources, changes in land use / land cover (LULC) may lead to conflicts over resources, especially if the resource base is already overexploited. Therefore, during the care and maintenance phase, it is crucial to assess the impact of refugee or IDP camps on the surrounding environment (mid-term need).

Most camps are highly dynamic in nature. Camp populations increase or decrease within short time frames, and people tend to resettle within the camp. The specific dynamics of such camps require adaptive monitoring capacities which provide updated information concerning the structure of the camp, population characteristics as well as environmental changes in the vicinity of the camp.