More than a pretty picture: Using poverty maps to design better policies and interventions

This World Bank volume offers detailed guidance on the use of Small Area Estimation poverty maps in research and policy making.

Information, guidance and tools are organised around the following broad themes:

  • What can poverty maps be used for?-- an overview of applications and uses of poverty maps.
  • How are poverty maps built? -- describes information sources, tools, and types of maps, including small area estimation maps.
  • Documents and links – extensive bibliography of references on technical aspects of poverty map elaboration and real-world examples.

Of particular interest is the guide’s detailed explanation of poverty map construction, which offers an overview of the key building blocks of demographic mapping: information sources such as censuses, surveys, administrative data, etc; geographic information systems (GISs), and small area estimation, a technique developed by the World Bank which employs combined census and survey data.


  • Maps for Policy Making: Beyond the Obvious Targeting Applications
  • Increasing the Impact of Poverty Maps
  • Constructing and Using Poverty Maps for Policy Making: The Experience in Albania
  • The Geography of Monetary Poverty in Bolivia: The Lessons of Poverty Maps
  • The Poverty Mapping Exercise in Bulgaria
  • To Use or Not to Use? Poverty Mapping in Cambodia
  • Poverty Maps of Yunnan Province: Uses and Lessons for Scaling-Up in China
  • The 1990 and 2001 Ecuador Poverty Maps
  • Indonesia’s Poverty Maps: Impacts and Lessons
  • Poverty Maps and Public Policy: Lessons from Mexico
  • The Poverty Mapping Application in Morocco
  • Poverty Maps in Sri Lanka: Policy Impacts and Lessons
  • Thailand’s Poverty Maps: From Construction to Application
  • Poverty Mapping: The Experience of Vietnam


Bedi, T., Coudouel, A., & Simler, K., (Eds). The World Bank, (2007). More than a pretty picture : using poverty maps to design better policies and interventions. Retrieved from website:

'More than a pretty picture: Using poverty maps to design better policies and interventions' is referenced in: