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.
We are delighted to announce that Crowd2Map has received an award from the UK Prime Minister's office called Points of Light. This recognises volunteer achievements so is aimed at all 10,000 of our volunteer mappers, well done!
The WomenConnect training in Serengeti is going well and Rhobi and her team have been busy doing follow up visits to the digital ambassadors in all 78 villages. They are also planning a big follow up event and microfinance launch in Mugumu next month, further details to follow.
Mapping from satellite images continues in many areas of Tanzania. Anyone with an internet connection can help. We are currently mapping here.
If you would like any further information please get in touch!
The WomenConnect project training training first time smartphone users to map their villages so that girls can be better protected by FGM is going well, despite some issues with poor connectivity. We have set up WhatsApp groups so that the women can ask questions, and get advice and support. We are planning follow up training when women will get updated maps to display in their villages next month. They will also get training on how to set up small businesses in their villages to boost income and show people economic alternatives to FGM. We are setting up a revolving fund to give women small loans and they will get business advice and follow up via the WhatsApp group and follow up training.
We have also set up Youthmapper Chapters at SETCO Serengeti and in Muleba so that students in both places can help us map.
And Rhobi, the leader of the FGM activists we are working with was recognised for her achievements last week. More details are here.
Thank you again for your support for this project.
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