There are a number of sources to acquire GIS data and other geographic data types available
on the web. Many of these are free of charge and easily downloadable, while other web sites
may charge a fee for downloading privileges or will send you the data on a cd. Unfortunately,
GIS data for Ethiopia can be limited or coarse, and users will likely need to create their
own data coverages and maps from field surveys, digitizing or further analyses of existing data.
If the user decides to download GIS data from the website, careful consideration should be given to:
- who produced the data
- what format the data are in
- how the data were produced
- when were the data produced
Simply stated, be sure to investigate the quality of the
data. It can be difficult to identify mistakes and inaccuracies on a map, so we suggest that
you rely on reputable sources.
Tips for Downloading GIS Data
Downloading data from the web may take some time. Because many computers may be older and web
connections are not always reliable, we suggest that any downloads not be conducted during peak
internet use. If you have an older computer, it is also advised that you not try to operate any
other functions on your computer during the downloading process.
Have a file folder ready on your computer to download your data to. Remember that there are
multiple GIS data files associated with a vector or raster data set. Be sure to download all
associated files with the data including any metadata.
Once you have downloaded your data from a web source, be sure to check that the projection is
compatible with your other GIS data. Chances are that you will need to change or define the
new data's projection.
Some data sets will have be available in a compressed format (e.g. zip file) or in another format
that may or may not be readily recognized by ArcGIS, so you may need to "unzip" the file, convert
the file, or import the file before being able to use it.
Websites Offering Free GIS Data for ETHIOPIA
DIVA-GIS is a free computer program for mapping and geographic data analysis (a geographic information system). With DIVA-GIS you can make maps of the world, or of a very small area, using, for example, state boundaries, riviers, a satellite image, and the locations of sites where an animal species was observed. DIVA-GIS also provide free spatial data for the whole world or individual countries that can be used in DIVA-GIS or other GIS programs.
- United Nations Institute for Training and Research (unitar)
Through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and satellite imagery, UNOSAT provides timely and high-quality geo-spatial information to US decision makers, member states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. UNOSAT develops solutions on integrating field collected data with remote sensing imagery and GIS data through web-mapping and information sharing mechanisms, including remote monitoring of development projects and sharing of geographic data using web-services.
Bioclimatic variables are derived from the monthly temperature and rainfall values in order to generate more biologically meaningful variables. These are often used in ecological niche modeling (e.g., BIOCLIM, GARP). The bioclimatic variables represent annual trends (e.g., mean annual temperature, annual precipitation) seasonality (e.g., annual range in temperature and precipitation) and extreme or limiting environmental factors (e.g., temperature of the coldest and warmest month, and precipitation of the wet and dry quarters).
- WorldClim – Global Climate Data
WorldClim is a set of global climate layers (climate grids of past, current and future climate) with a spatial resolution of about 1 square kilometer. The data can be used for mapping and spatial modeling in a GIS or with other computer programs. If you are not familiar with such programs, you can try DIVA-GIS or the R raster package.
- USGS/USAID Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)
The FEWS NET Africa Data Portal provides access to spatial data, satellite imagery, and other data and graphic products in support of the FEWS NET project.
- Soil Maps of Africa
Realizing the need to conserve the information on existing maps, which underpin the fast-developing thematic mapping strategies to support soil protection, the Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IES) in the European Commission (Italy) and ISRIC – World Soil Information initiated the European Digital Archive of Soil Maps (EuDASM). The immediate objective is to transfer soil information into digital format, with the maximum resolution possible, to preserve the information of paper maps that are vulnerable to deterioration.
- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Over the last 20 years, researchers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have collected and generated an extensive range of spatial data layers. A number of these layers are directly related to livestock, such as distribution, health and production. Other layers, however, cover more general topics such as human population density, climate and infrastructure. Some of the datasets cover only specific project, while others are county-wide, regional, continental or even global.
- African Development Bank Group
The Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic was an unprecedented knowledge program on Africa's infrastructure that grew out of the pledge by the G8 Summit of 2005 at Gleneagles to substantially increase ODA assistance to Africa, particularly to the infrastructure sector, and the subsequent formation of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa.
- USGS Africa Land Cover Characteristics Data Base V2.0
The Africa land cover data base is one portion of a global land cover characteristics data base that was developed on a continent-by-continent basis. All continents in the global data base share the same map projections (Interrupted Goode Homolosine and Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area), have 1-km nominal spatial resolution, and are based on 1-km AVHRR data spanning April 1992 through March 1993.
- Terrestrial Ecosystems of Africa
This U.S. Geological Survey Global Ecosystems project includes bioclimates, ecosystems, and lithology, among other products for Africa in raster format, as well as the most detailed land boundary of the continent.
- Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)
Provided by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), this website hosts 30m SRTM DEM that is currently available for most of the world. They will continue to process and release all of the data for global coverage.
- National Elevation Dataset from USGS National Map
Provided by U.S. Geological Survey, this website hosts a lower resolution (30 meter) and a high resolution (10 meter) digital elevation datasets.
- S2 prototype Land Cover 20m map of Africa
Provided by ESA and the consortium, this website hosts a high resolution land cover map at 20m over Africa based on 1 year of Sentinel-2A observations from December 2015 to December 2016. It includes 10 land cover classes: trees cover areas, shrubs cover areas, grassland, cropland, vegetation aquatic or regularly flooded, lichen and mosses / sparse vegetation, bare areas, built up areas, snow and/or ice and open water.