How satellite images are helping one country hand out cash

"Poverty maps" that combine satellite imagery and survey data enabled the Togolese government to target emergency pandemic charitable aid to the people in greatest need. Togo officials relied on the expertise of University of California-Berkeley researchers whose system interprets aerial images showing such factors as the density and condition of housing. Initially, 35,000 people received $13-$15 per month for five months to make up for the loss of jobs and small-business income during pandemic shutdowns. Applications were sought from targeted areas through advertising, and money was sent via mobile phones.

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