Geography Glossary

Geographies define where activities take place and results are achieved. All DevResults indicator data must be associated with a geography.

In this article:

What Are Geographies?

DevResults defines geographies in two ways:

  • Locations (points)
  • Administrative Divisions (areas or polygons)


In DevResults, Locations refer to specific point locations on a map with GPS coordinates. These might be specific facilities (e.g. schools, clinics, hospitals, sensors, etc.) or individual villages, towns, cities.

  • If you can provide exact GPS coordinates or find a location on Google Maps, you can add it to DevResults.
  • Site users with appropriate privileges can add new locations at any time, and can then assign activities to report on these locations.
  • Location always appears as the most specific option for an indicator's geographic disaggregation.

Administrative Divisions

In DevResults, Administrative Divisions refer to areas on a map, represented by shapes or polygons. These generally include the national borders of the country/countries for your site, and may include several additional layers of smaller, nested administrative divisions within a country (such as districts, provinces, departments, municipalities, etc.). 

  • By default, we use publicly available KML files from the Database of Global Administrative Areas, more commonly known as GADM, to add Administrative Divisions to your site. 
    • In the most recent update, GADM has suffered from general data cleanliness issues as well as out-of-date subnational boundaries in many countries. While we still rely on GADM for its universal coverage, we increasingly use KML/Shapefiles from the Humanitarian Data Exchange, more commonly known as HDX, which tends to be more up-to-date, especially in countries with an ongoing humanitarian response.
  • Site users can rename administrative divisions, but they cannot upload or change administrative divisions through their site; DevResults staff must complete this action. If there is a problem with the shapes or boundaries themselves, you will need to send the appropriate KML file with the preferred boundaries to While every country is different, you can often obtain geographic data from national or local government agencies, open data portals, or various other searchable geo-databases and resources online. If you are unsure what type of file to look for, be sure to read about KML files.
  • Users with appropriate privileges can view the administrative divisions currently present in your site by going to Program Info > Administrative Divisions (under the Geography section).
  • Administrative divisions are grouped into administrative division levels that are hierarchically related. An administrative division like Ghana would belong to the Country level, while an administrative division like Africa would belong to the Region level. Data can be aggregated automatically to higher levels, so if you enter data per country, you could see a multi-country regional total and a global total. The specific names for administrative division levels (i.e. region, country district, province, etc.) will vary based on your site's configuration. These levels are available as options for an indicator's geographic disaggregation. Read more about which administrative division levels should be included in your DevResults site. 

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How Are Geographies Used?

DevResults uses geographies in two ways:

  1. Indicators: Every indicator must have a geographic disaggregation, meaning that each indicator must be assigned to report data either per location or per an administrative division level. This indicates the geographic specificity with which data is reported. 
  2. Activities: All activities must be assigned to geographies that correspond to the geographic disaggregations of their assigned indicators. For example, if Indicator 1 is reported per district, and Activity A reports on Indicator 1, then Activity A must be assigned to at least one district. ("District" would be the indicator's geographic disaggregation.) 

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How Do I Map Other Geographic Data?

In addition to those two types of geographies, you can also add KML map layers to your site to provide additional contextual data to a map of your activities. These overlays do not replace administrative divisions and they cannot be used as indicator geographic disaggregations. They simply provide an additional layer to view in map visualizations.

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