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Measuring Slavery

Only by measuring and understanding the scale of slavery can we effectively tackle it. Since 2013, the Walk Free Foundation has published the annual Global Slavery Index (GSI). The world’s only big data intervention into contemporary slavery, the GSI is a country by country estimation of slavery’s prevalence and the adequacy of response in 167 countries. The most recent edition covered 99% of the world’s population.   We help to refine the GSI's global metrics, further develop the data collection and analysis methodology to bring greater validity and reliability, incorporate new data on factors that make people vulnerable to enslavement, and develop new methodologies for particularly challenging countries that build on current methods.  We also dig deep into the GSI's unanalysed data to conduct in-depth analysis around key themes, for example the relationship between slavery’s prevalence and internal conflict, or between women’s physical integrity and rates of enslavement.


The Slavery Observatory

We are home to the world’s first Geospatial Slavery Observatory. The majority of today’s slaves live in developing countries where many slave-based activities are visible in satellite imagery (for example brick kilns, mines, fisheries and farms). By identifying slavery locations using geospatial intelligence, we answer the demand within the development and human rights communities for scientific data that can underpin policy formation and humanitarian operations. Our process is to: • Compile, synthesise and integrate spatial data to detect and eventually prevent slavery. • Develop (automated) methods with as much data as possible at as low as possible cost, with known levels of uncertainty. • Act as a conduit for all observations of slavery activity. Employing state-of-the-art techniques from geoinformatics and data modelling, geospatial intelligence, and location-based services, we conduct comparison and cross-corroboration of archival satellite imagery with various open source data, and use imagery analysis methodologies. We also use our expertise on volunteered geographic information to enable quality crowd-sourcing, and are applying machine-learning techniques that automate identification via a prototype feature extraction algorithm.Our work was featured in a Telegraph article in October 2016. We are now developing new pilots in Ghana (fishing), India, Nepal and Pakistan (brick kilns), Thailand (fishing), Brazil (charcoal camps) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (mining).


The Antislavery Ecosystem

We are demonstrating the tight connection between ending slavery and reducing environmental destruction. Our preliminary research shows that if slavery were a country, it would have a population of some 46 million people and the gross domestic product of Angola (in global terms a small and poor nation), yet would be the third largest emitter of CO2 (2.54 billion tons per year) in the world after China (7.39 billion tons) and the United States (5.58 billion tons). Responding to this, we are completing the world’s largest study on the relationship between slavery and ecosystems. This work will: Compile, synthesise and integrate spatial data on the landscape changes that result from slavery activities and calculate the environmental costs of these activities and the potential gains that stem from curtailing slavery, with a focus on carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services. Explore the values associated with environmental gains, their capacity to be captured in environmental markets, and their ability to help fund slavery prevention and abolition efforts. Explore links between ecological resilience and human vulnerability as a precondition to enslavement.


The Rights Compass

The extensive growth in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodologies for development work worldwide has not been replicated for the work of slavery liberation and reintegration. With some exceptions, the handful of groups that have assembled best practice guidelines have had limited success because these are not yet built on rigorous, large-scale M&E research.  We are therefore pioneering an extended antislavery M&E platform. This compass for antislavery work navigates us between the cardinal points of enslaved and free. We are collating a large database on current and recent antislavery interventions around the world, which we use to conduct systematic analysis on their relative success and failure. Alongside the database we are completing a publicly available social network analysis of the various agencies, organisations, research units and other extragovernmental bodies engaged in antislavery work, in order to track involvement, influence and impact within the movement. These two resources underpin our new Antislavery Impact Assessment and Evaluation Framework. This will evaluate ongoing interventions to identify the degree to which they have had an impact on reducing the prevalence of slavery. It will help us to pilot, validate, disseminate and support the adoption of standardised M&E tools across the antislavery movement with our NGO partners.