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Project: Tracking Light From The Sky

Tracking Light From The Sky

For the 1.3 billion people estimated to lack electricity around the world, the World Bank plays a critical role in financing rural electrification and lighting improvement projects. While these projects are regularly monitored and evaluated, no mechanism exists to track the sustainability and effectiveness of electrification projects after books are closed or monitoring teams have left. We propose a novel strategy to monitor the effectiveness of rural electrification projects using low-cost satellite imagery of nighttime lights, which can detect small concentrations of outdoor lighting in all parts of the globe, every single night. Our plan seeks to validate this approach through parallel data collection from the sky and on the ground in a varied set of villages across Africa and Asia, establishing the contexts in which satellite analysis can enhance the Bank’s monitoring and evaluation efforts. By introducing validated satellite-based methodology to monitor rural electrification, our tools will enable better tracking of project implementation and selection of new project sites, while providing maps and imagery to enhance transparency and communication results to clients and citizens. 


Brian Min, Center for Political Studies (PI)


World Bank

Project Period

January 1, 2011 – June 30, 2011
March 10, 2015 – December 31, 2015