The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Using remotely sensed night-time light as a proxy for poverty in Africa

Noor, A.M., Alegana, V.A., Gething, P.W., Tatem, A.J. and Snow, R.W. (2008) Using remotely sensed night-time light as a proxy for poverty in Africa Population Health Metrics, 6, (5), pp. 1-15. (PMID:18939972).

Record type: Article


BACKGROUND: Population health is linked closely to poverty. To assess the effectiveness of health interventions it is critical to monitor the spatial and temporal changes in the health indicators of populations and outcomes across varying levels of poverty. Existing measures of poverty based on income, consumption or assets are difficult to compare across geographic settings and are expensive to construct. Remotely sensed data on artificial night time lights (NTL) have been shown to correlate with gross domestic product in developed countries. METHODS: Using national household survey data, principal component analysis was used to compute asset-based poverty indices from aggregated household asset variables at the Administrative 1 level (n = 338) in 37 countries in Africa. Using geographical information systems, mean brightness of and distance to NTL pixels and proportion of area covered by NTL were computed for each Administrative1 polygon. Correlations and agreement of asset-based indices and the three NTL metrics were then examined in both continuous and ordinal forms. RESULTS: At the Administrative 1 level all the NTL metrics distinguished between the most poor and least poor quintiles with greater precision compared to intermediate quintiles. The mean brightness of NTL, however, had the highest correlation coefficient with the asset-based wealth index in continuous (Pearson correlation = 0.64, p < 0.01) and ordinal (Spearman correlation = 0.79, p < 0.01; Kappa = 0.64) forms. CONCLUSION: Metrics of the brightness of NTL data offer a robust and inexpensive alternative to asset-based poverty indices derived from survey data at the Administrative 1 level in Africa. These could be used to explore economic inequity in health outcomes and access to health interventions at sub-national levels where household assets data are not available at the required resolution.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 21 October 2008
Organisations: Geography & Environment, PHEW – S (Spatial analysis and modelling), Population, Health & Wellbeing (PHeW)


Local EPrints ID: 344437
PURE UUID: 4e54a5a3-b02f-4425-9e00-ff834af2dc9e
ORCID for A.J. Tatem: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Nov 2012 11:40
Last modified: 05 Oct 2017 04:42

Export record

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.