Training Village Women and Children Protection Committees with #WomenConnect

We are working with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOTOSM) who were awarded a grant from the USAID WomenConnect programme to train women to better use digital technology to map and empower their communities which we started implementing this week.

mbalibali village map

This involves visiting each of the 78 villages and holding a meeting with the committee members and showing them the map of their village that we had produced in OpenStreetMap.   This was the first time they had ever seen a map of their village and they found them fascinating.  We then showed them Maps.Me so they could see their location, zoom in and out and compare the digital version with the paper one.

We also trained the committee how to use smartphones as most of them had never used one before. They were very impressed by what they can do and loved the content we had downloaded onto sd cards, including Swahili videos about agriculture, FGM and womens’ rights.  We also showed them how to report incidents of gender based violence, GBV, using a form in OpenDataKit on the phone. As access to smartphones is so low in these communities, especially for women, we are leaving one phone per village to be used in the project.  We were able to do this because of a very generous donation from the FOSS4G conference in Dar es Salaam last year who were so impressed by our work.

Female Genital Mutilation and Gender Based Violence more widely are huge problems in Serengeti District, as in much of Tanzania, and are very under reported, particularly in these remote villages.

The Tanzanian government introduced a policy in 2006 that every village should have a protection committee to address this issue at a local level.  Unfortunately this laudable policy was not followed up by funds for dissemination and implementation.  Serengeti District set up committees in every village in June 2018 but since that time they have had no funding to visit the villages to introduce the programme and train the committee on their responsibilities. So we are delighted to be working with them to ensure the committees in Serengeti are trained in their responsibilities and also have the digital tools for the first time to enable them to carry them out.

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