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This fascinating crowdfunding campaign is using balloons to map a refugee camp

12th October 2016

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You would expect a city that is over sixty years old to have quality maps available to its residents. However, the Burj Shemali refugee camp in Lebanon has no such thing. One Kickstarter campaign is on a mission to change that.

Burj Shemali is the oldest camp in the region and was established as a shelter for Palestinian refugees in 1948.

Since then its population has expanded to 22,789 people living in a sprawling mass of concrete buildings with little green space. Although government maps exist, these are not available to residents or visitors.

So far, the team has been using balloon mapping, a DIY photography tool from Public Labs, to take aerial pictures of the city.

It’s as simple as it sounds – launching a balloon into the air with a camera attached which periodically takes photos. The team of refugees and volunteers has taken thousands of photos in this fashion.

Now the team has collected the photos, it is appealing for help to get the maps made.

The team wants to involve the community in the production of the map, ensuring their concerns are translated to paper. Therefore they need funds to organize community workshops.

In addition to this, they are sending three of their most promising participants to various events in the US to show their work off.

(Claudia Martinez Mansell)
The balloon used to map the camp (Screenshot/Claudia Martinez Mansell)

Supporters can pledge as little as $10 (£8.25) to receive a card with one of the aerial images on, or $30 to receive the finished map. If they want a display print, supporters can pledge over $100.

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