Crowd2Map was started five years ago this month. Since then over 15 thousand volunteers have added over 4.5 million buildings in Tanzania into OpenStreetMap.
These better maps have been crucial in helping FGM activists like Rhobi Samwelly from Hope and the local police she works with help protect and rescue girls from FGM. She estimates that these maps have saved over 3000 girls from being cut, as outlined in a recent article in The Independent newspaper.
There are currently 130 girls in the two safe houses, but Rhobi is expecting to rescue over 350 more before the end of the year, as a cutting season has just started. So the maps will have a lot of use.
Wednesday marks the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism Campaign. This runs between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Rhobi will be organising various events as part of the campaign, and we will be having different mapathons, including with the local Red Cross that we have been training recently.
Thank you for your support during this difficult year, and best wishes for the festive season. I hope you are able to celebrate with your loved ones to some extent, and stay safe..
State of the Map is the annual conference of the OpenStreetMap global community. This year it was scheduled to be in Cape Town and we were looking forward to presenting our work on fighting FGM with maps and on building a mapping community in Tanzania.
However, with the COVID pandemic the conference was moved online and so we presented virtually, which did mean that many more mappers from Tanzania and beyond were able to participate. You can see our talks here and the rest of the programme here.
It is difficult to know exactly what is happening with the pandemic as the government has not released any figures since the end of May. Schools reopened at the end of June and some of the girls have started returning to their villages from the Safe Houses.
Rhobi has also started training mappers in Butiama district, and they and the digital champions in Serengeti will be participating in research with Nottingham University around the effectiveness of different interventions against FGM.
We are also planning virtual training for a new Youthmapper chapter in Mwanza soon.
Thank you for your generosity in supporting this project!
I hope everyone is keeping safe in these very challenging times. I returned from 6 weeks in Tanzania a fortnight ago to lockdown in London. I am fortunate here to have reliable electricity, internet, water and a reasonable amount of space. Obviously that is not the situation for many in Tanzania. We are helping to spread messages around hand washing and social distancing where possible in Tanzania.
Schools there are shut and large gatherings banned now, although people continue to go to church and the mosque. We are helping provide access to hand washing facilities and other support for particularly vulnerable groups such as street children. School closures mean the cutting season has started early, and Rhobi is already getting new girls arriving. She has converted the classroom into an isolation room for new arrivals and those with symptoms.
We are also working with Healthsites to update health centre information on openstreetmap where possible. We have postponed field mapping and are concentrating on remote mapping for now. We have had more new mappers who are in lockdown joining us recently and have been holding virtual mapathons.
While in Tanzania we helped organise a very successful event for Open Data Day which you can read about here. We also did follow up training with Rhobi and her staff at the Safe Houses. We also set up 2 new Youthmapper chapters in Musoma and Mwanza and had a stall explaining our work at Innovation Week in Dar es Salaam.
Thank you for your generosity and stay safe in these very challenging times.
ICPD25 in Nairobi was an amazing event and we were extremely proud to run a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) mapathon there on behalf of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 9500 people from 170 countries attended the summit, from heads of state and UN employees to grassroots activists.
I attended some amazing talks and workshops which included huge declarations from the Kenyan President to end FGM by 2022 and much smaller events. I met with familiar activists I’d spoken to before plus many new people with additional opportunities for collaboration. Some highlights for me included:
We were delighted to receive a scholarship to attend and present at the recent Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and State of the Map conferences. These are global annual events where people come together to share knowledge about everything to do with OpenStreetMap, and we learnt a lot!
We spoke about Crowd2Map at an introductory session about OpenStreetMap - our section is here, and also gave a lightning talk - video here.
There were a huge number of very interesting talks, if you are interested there is more information here.
One of the things we were most interested in is how machine learning is going to help speed up the mapping process. Microsoft have just released building location data for Tanzania and Facebook road data, both of which can be potentially incorporated into our mapping process to improve speed and accuracy.
As there is an FGM cutting season expected in December we are keen to look at anything that can help.
We are also planning another training event for all the Youthmappers and Community mappers to share good practice on how mapping can help Tanzania achieve the SDGs.
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