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GIS in developing countries:

Possibilities and Constraints

In this article the writer has analysed how effective and appropriate it is to use GIS in
developing countries. The first thing that has discussed are the differences in the uses of GIS in
developing countries and developed countries. The major part of this article has explored the
constraints of using GIS and possible solutions for the problems.

The application of technology to real world problems does not fundamentally differ
between developed and developing countries, although there are some differences in poverty and
the role of imagery.

The major constraints are probably the cost and the education constraints, but also
infrastructure and data constraints make the application of a GIS a very time consuming process
in developing countries. The purchase of hardware and software encompasses only a small part
of the financial cost, but it is also the one that is most likely to control. Another big factor is the
cost of the workforce. Also housing and infrastructure often require big investment but for the
protection of the sensitive and expensive hardware saving too much at this point can be
dangerous. When problems occur with the hard- or software, the companies are mostly too far
away from the developing countries to give appropriate support. In developing countries there is
still a high level of illiteracy and only a few of them know how to work with computers. One
further problem about the workforce is that people that are educated enough often emigrate to
developed countries, because they can get higher salaries there. In developing countries there are
two aspects to limited availability of useful data. As the installation of a fully functioning GIS
takes a lot of time, there is a risk in developing countries, that the project can not be
accomplished due to political unstability.

Using GIS in developing countries is something that seems very unusual for many
people, and the number of constraints show, that it is still a problem. Many of the constraints
seem very inhibiting in the first instant, but in many cases there is a way to solve most of them.
GIS can be a cheap and effective way to improve decision making processes in developing

Wise, Steven (2002): Theory and Practice of GIS , Sheffield: Sheffield University.

Submitted by:
A.H.M. Firoz Kabir Mondal
Roll No.10109
Session: 2010-2011
Institute of Environmental Science
University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.