Searching for shelters

Locating internally displaced people... one tent at a time

The challenge

In Afghanistan, there are almost 2.6 million IDPs. In 2018, a severe drought in the north of the country led to an additional 371,000. Many are living in informal tented communities. These tents are important indicators in determining the changing demand for humanitarian support.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) came to Alcis asking for help in locating the missing people, who had moved into temporary camps due to drought forcing them from their homes. 


Initially we looked at the impact of the drought, identifying the communities where the loss of crops was most felt. More recently we have been looking at the resultant movement of people; analysing the location and distribution of shelters in makeshift camps.

The Solution

We used a combination of Satellite imagery and machine learning to detect and count temporary IDP shelters in Afghanistan. Machine learning and Geographic Information Systems were used to identify individual IDP tents in Afghanistan for humanitarian shelter.

After recognising that the tents provided by NRC have a unique signature when observed in satellite imagery, we were able to see the rate at which IDP camps appeared and evolved in a very short span of time.


Our results displayed 99% accuracy in identifying tents.

How we did it

Our team of experts are here to help develop and deliver the technical components of your requirements, including:

  • Programme design & Implementation

  • Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Organisational development (capacity building, mentoring and training)

  • National Spatial Data Infrastructure support, assessment and delivery

  • Academic research and methodological innovation

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Alcis Holdings Ltd
Surrey Technology Centre
40 Occam Road
Surrey Research Park
Guildford, Surrey
United Kingdom

Tel:  +44 (0) 1483 688 230


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