This month we are celebrating some of the many women who support our work as volunteer mappers, dotted all over the world. Our volunteers make up a global cohort that is collaborating virtually to map rural Tanzania, and help end FGM. They are from all sorts of backgrounds, hold different careers and live in many locations. We will be releasing a new post each week throughout March:
María Lucía Rodríguez
Location: Bogotá, Colombia
Mapping since: October 2020
What are you doing currently:I am an Architect and recently I finished my Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture in Barcelona, Spain. Currently I work as a freelance developing Masterplans for a few projects.
Why this cause: I guess because when I first heard that female genital mutilation existed, I was shocked. I thought it was incredible that something like this still happened today and that being so far away I didn’t know how I could help. When I discovered that I could use my skills and spare time to help women on the other side of the world, I knew I had to contribute.
Why mapping: As an architect, I understand the power of drawing / mapping where and how things are and how they relate to each other. Maps have always been a key tool both in understanding a land and its people and in managing it. You can learn so much from maps and satellite images! I also wanted to learn more about GIS and its applications, and about African geography, as we often don’t know much about it in Latin America.
Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy in Tanzania and the families of girls at risk of FGM and GBV are farmers.
Although in theory there are networks of agriculture extension officers to help them, often in practice they are too far away to be of any use. Therefore, we were very pleased to learn of the PlantVillage Nuru app which seeks to help farmers improve their practice. In February 2021 TDT had an online training session for people interested in how to use this free app to detect Fall Army Worm (a pest for maize) and Cassava diseases which was attended by our volunteer and GIS specialist Herry Kasunga.
Since then he has been out training our Digital Champions to use the app. As maize and cassava are the main staple crops grown in their areas this is particularly important.
Here you can see the Digital Champion for Burunga village, Agness Marinya checking her crops with the app. She says, “It is an easy way to monitor crops and give you feedbacks on how crops grow, and I will provide training to other farmers in my village.
“With better agriculture people are less likely to need to cut their daughters and sell them for cows. I have 3 children all girls. I am so proud of my work as a Digital Champion in Burunga, because there have been so much changes in my village.
“Now the number of girls who are cut is reduced. We all need to raise our voices to say no so our children can live free from FGM.”
The slides from our training session are here, and the recording here. You can also view and download the slides Herry used for training the digital champions below.
At the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team global conference on Friday December 4 2020, Herry Kasunga talked about the Water Source mapping project that he has been coordinating with the Hope for Girls and Women digital champions.
This is an extremely important project as the majority of people in Mara, as in the rest of Tanzania, are dependent on rainwater for household water, sanitation and to grow their food. It is also estimated that 40% of village water sources are degraded or non-functional. The shots below show some of the water points used by the digital champions:
In addition, climate change further threatens water access and means droughts and average temperature rises are likely, coupled with intense flooding events with significant damage to infrastructure and livelihoods, meaning mapping will become even more important.
Knowing the vast, rural area of Tanzania is crucial to provide timely and effective help for girls during Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) ‘cutting seasons’. In recent years, we have managed to map millions of buildings which can help us determine the distribution of the population. Although low population density areas in Tanzania are not sufficiently mapped yet, the initial steps have already been taken.
Goals of mapping
Crowd2Map Tanzania is a “crowdsourced mapping project aiming to put rural Tanzania on the map”. A primary goal is to help fight against FGM. Girls are rescued and taken to safe houses by local volunteers and police. However, for this they need maps. But maps can do more than just show these rescue teams the way to remote villages. The existence of spatial information can help with development and to increase commercial efficiency and economic growth opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to make better-informed decisions. Growing wealth improves the quality of life, gives a chance for more opportunities and a better quality of education.
Find the village
So, we now know where to find traces of human settlements, but how do we delineate each settlement and, more importantly, how do we know what the name of the settlement is?
The delimitation of human habitats is not easy, the structure of the settlement is often region dependent. What does it mean? In the Ruvuma region (southern Tanzania) the settlements are well separated on the map. In contrast, in agricultural areas of the Shinyanga region, delimitation sometimes seems an impossible task.
And what about the names of the settlements? Local volunteers can help us identify all the names of circa 10,000 – 12,000 settlements in Tanzania, OR we can try to find some open source data which contains this information. Recruiting hundreds of volunteers from all over the country is beyond our power, so we need to focus on the second SOLUTION in most places. Fortunately, we have some open source data from The United Republic of Tanzania – Government Basic Statistics Portal, like health facilities or schools, or waterpoints located all over Tanzania.
Our project objective is to add the missing village names in Tanzania, using open source government data about water sources in Tanzania.
Method for the estimation of village position
The shared database contains about 87,000 water sources, which can be lakes, rivers, machine drilled boreholes or springs. The database also contains the physical condition (quality, quantity) of the water sources as well as their spatial location, indicating, for example, the village name where the water source is, or the nearest village to it. This data helps us determine the name of the village in OSM.
For data validation the best possible application is JOSM, which can prepare our data to upload to OSM after data validation. During validation, the next datasets and imagery were used:
Thyessen polygons were calculated from the water points layer, to get the influence zone of each water point. Then, the polygons were merged by attribute, where the village name is the same. The resulting polygons can help to determine the area where the village has to be.
In the same time, Mean center was calculated for the points inside a polygon → potential position of the village. (Since in a few cases the name of a village occurs more than once in the country, a “village+district” combined data was used to help us to find the real mean center.) This is our village data POI which need to be implemented to OSM.
OpenStreetMap imagery was used to identify the trace of human activity if the area was well mapped. We were also able to get an answer as to whether the name of the settlement has already been given to OSM.
Maxar satellite imagery was used for those areas that weren’t mapped yet.
Other useful datasets for validation
Waterpoints: can be really useful, if the position of the village’s POI is unusually far from any populated area. In this case, it is worth looking at how each water point is located in the area. Another example, when the village consists of two sub-villages, then the “SUBVILLAGE” attribute of the water database can help determine where the center of the village can be.
Health facilities data: The government data contains more than 7,000 health facilities like hospitals or clinics. The names of these facilities are usually, but not exclusively, the same as the name of the municipality where it is located.
Education data: The government data contains almost 7,000 schools. The village names are available in this data.
The Voronoi polygon assigns the area where the village is located (or has to be). The village POI assigns the potential location of the settlement, BUT its accuracy depends on the number of water abstraction points and their location in/around the given settlement.
By the end of September, more than 143 districts were validated (88% of all districts), and 5505 villages POIs were added which is 52% of the total village POIs in Tanzania.
Number of edits by users – which was added with “TNZ_missing_villages” hashtag
Crowd2map volunteers in the lead
The OSM database currently contains 10483 Tanzanian village points, a significant part was added by the volunteers of the Crowd2map team. The following pie chat shows how this 10483 POIs is divided between the TOP5 volunteers and the rest of mapper community:
Updated results – 31/10/2020
By the end of October, more than 157 districts were validated (97% of all districts), and 6759 villages POIs were added.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has published its State of the World Population 2020 paper. Against my will: Defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality, has contributions from many important figures focused on improving female prospects globally through a combination of determination and ongoing action.
Rhobi Samwelly tells her harrowing story of experiencing near fatal female genital mutilation and seeing it kill her friend, and how this galvanised the founding of our partner organisation, Hope for Girls and Women. Rhobi is featured from page 67 of the report. There is a wealth of important information about gender inequality within the document. We were therefore keen to share it as a wider reading resource for those campaigning for an end to FGM and those interested in learning more about this and other practices that aim to prohibit the rights of women.
The full report can be downloaded via the UNFPA site from the button below:
‘Female Genital Mutilation’ and ‘data visualisation’ might not be two terms that you would immediately put together. However on June 1st, the Viz5 team and makeovermonday.co.uk did just that. Their global community of data enthusiasts were challenged to help communicate some of Hope for Girls and Women’s critical stats through a range of different visualisation techniques.
Data can, at times, be quite impenetrable and dry. Being able to identify a logical flow and narrative using data visualisation techniques on a webpage, presentation or report, can help the information become more digestible and intuitive for the audience. According to t-sciences.com, ‘the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.’
As part of the monthly #Viz5 data visualisation challenge, the team featured data from Hope in an effort to support our advocacy work and raise awareness of the fight to end FGM. There were so many great data visualisations produced! These were reviewed by Eva Murray, Technology Evangelist & Tableau Zen Master at Exasol and Seth Cochran, Founder & CEO at OpFistula.org.
You can see and hear the feedback they provided here.
The shortlisted visualisations are also available to view here.
Hope has a relationship with the Viz5 team through our association with the Tanzania Development Trust and Crowd2map. They have supported with our data collection and mapping of Tanzania, and were keen to use their platform to help us drive awareness around the challenges we face with FGM and the support we provide through the safe houses. Their passion comes across in the feedback session – we look forward to collaborating again soon!
To read more about the outstanding efforts and this important collaboration, please find the Viz5 article here.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a traditional practice prevalent in many parts of Africa and across the world. It is rooted in gender inequality and attempts to control a woman’s body. FGM in Tanzania secures a higher dowry for the parents of the girl who has undergone the procedure. FGM was criminalised in 1998 in Tanzania, so it is frequently undertaken in secret and unhygienic, dangerous conditions.
How can I help stop FGM?
Crowd2Map Tanzania is an entirely volunteer-based mapping project putting rural Tanzania on the map. Having better open-source maps helps activists protect girls from FGM and supports navigation and community development.
Since 2015, over 13,000 remote volunteers worldwide, based in countries ranging from Poland to China, Brazil to the United States, to name a few, have been adding roads and buildings to digital maps and supporting the cause.
This year with the many challenges resulting from COVID-19, more than ever, we need all the support we can get to continue our mission to end FGM and get help to vulnerable girls faster. You can volunteer from home, contributing to the first stage of mapping, as long as you have an internet connection, the team on the ground in Tanzania then completes the process using their local knowledge. Get started and find out more here.
“I first found out about the 16 Days Campaign when Rhobi Samwely organised a 16 Days March around Mugumu, Tanzania, in December 2015,” recounts Janet Chapman, Founder of Crowd2Map Tanzania. Rhobi opened the Mugumu Safe House in 2014 to provide safety and support to girls at risk for genital mutilation in Tanzania.
“This was the first ever 16 Days March in Mugumu, and it stirred a lot of interest – and bemusement – on the part of the locals,” Janet said. “About 200 girls marched around town singing ‘we want to be modern, uncut girls’ and demanding their rights. As it turned out, the March itself was stewarded by local police, and this was an enormous step forward in forming a cooperative relationship between the officers and the Mugumu Safe House staff and residents.”
Founded in 1991, the 16 Days of Activism campaign runs annually from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (International Human Rights Day). The Campaign’s founding in 1991 followed, and commemorates, the December 6, 1989, deaths of 14 female students at the University of Montreal. Often referred to as the Montreal Massacre, it involved a male student who entered the University’s Engineering Department and after declaring his intent to kill feminists, he shot and killed the 14 students.
The theme of the 2019 Campaign – Ending Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work – reflects and celebrates the passage in 2019 of Convention 190 (C190) by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to address gender-based violence in the working world. What is significant about C190 is that it is the ILO’s first Convention (which includes Recommendation 206 as guidance) to address sexual harassment and violence against women in the working world.
Will C190 change anything?
The ILO Conventions are a type of treaty that commits ratifying member
nations to a specific course of action.
Compliance is self-reported, and ILO conventions tend to act as benchmarks
against which ratifying nation commits itself to strive toward.
Created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, the ILO is a specialised United Nations agency, sometimes referred to as an international parliament of labour. It acts as a forum where social and labour questions are discussed and debated. In recent decades, ILO members have expressed concerns about poor working conditions in the global economy – where inequality and displacement of workers continues to increase.
Christine Lagarde, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and current head of the European Central Bank, said she made female empowerment a key goal for the IMF. “I didn’t see #MeToo coming but I welcome it immensely,” Lagarde said. “Sexual harassment is only scratching the surface. Violence against women is still a massive issue and we are not just talking about low-income countries: it is in all societies. It has to be discussed, addressed and fought against. There are some terrible things happening to women.”
One alternative that has been discussed is to incorporate ILO labour standards into the World Trade Organisation, where member nations could retaliate for unjust practices through trade sanctions.
Hiring more women helps drive economic growth
According to Lagarde, 88% of all countries in the world have legal
restrictions against women in the workplace. “Some [nations] forbid women from
doing specific jobs, 59 countries have no laws against sexual harassment in the
workplace and there are 18 countries where women can be legally prevented from
working,” she reports. A 2019 ILO report
on global employment also cites the lack of progress in closing the gender gap
in labour force participation – 48% female compared to 75% male.
The IMF is already pushing member nations to implement policies that empower women, Lagarde said, noting that women bring new skills to the workplace and help boost productivity – as well as workforce size. The empowerment of women results in “higher growth, a reduction in inequality, an improvement in the strength of the economy and a more diversified, export-focused country,” she reports.
Even advanced countries need improvement, she contends – the female workforce participation in such countries is still way below that of men, and the gender pay gap among developed countries is approximately 16%. But at the same time, some nations are making progress. Lagarde lauded Japan in particular for increasing its childcare budget, which takes some of the burden off working mothers.
To their credit, some nations have already addressed intimate partner violence by providing support for affected workers. In 2004, the Philippines became the first country to establish 10 days paid leave of absence for workers affected by domestic violence. New Zealand adopted a similar law in 2018. Collective bargaining agreements in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom now provide paid leave and other entitlements to victims of domestic violence.
Addressing misconduct in the workplace
Prevention is about giving workers multiple options, such as offering a
hotline, or an opportunity to speak with the personnel department or with their
manager, according to labour lawyer Amy Oppenheimer. “If you are only providing employees one means
of recourse, you’re inevitably deterring a big chunk of the workforce,” she
said, adding that employers often need multiple tools for dealing with
misconduct – such as bystander training, mediation and alternative dispute
resolution, or training about communication and respect.
Sexual harassment is often triggered by an imbalance of power, so the emergence of women into leadership positions does make a difference. “When you have at least some women in leadership, there’s a very subtle but important cultural change that takes place, and it’s that kind of change that really is the foundation for eliminating sexual harassment,” reports Stephanie A. Scharf, chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession.
The following organisations focus on the promotion of women’s rights.
To volunteer, apply for an internship or a job, or to find services and support,
contact any of the following:
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights. 323A, Muri Okunola Street, P.S. Box 73630, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Tel: 234-1-262 6267. www.baobabwomenorg. Focused on women’s legal rights issues under customary, statutory and religious laws in Nigeria.
Center for Reproductive Rights. 199 Water Street, New York, NY 10038, 917-637-3600: www.reproductiverights.org. Nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting and defending women’s reproductive rights worldwide. Offices located in Washington DC; Bogota, Columbia; Nairobi, Kenya; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Geneva, Switzerland.
Equality Now. 125 Maiden Lane, 9th Floor, Suite B, New York, NY 10038. 212-586-1611. www.equalitynow.org. Committed to ending violence against women around the world. Offices in London UK and Nairobi, Kenya.
Federation of Women’s Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya), P.O. Box 46324, Gitanga Road, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel: 722509760. www.fidakenya.org. Objective is to increase access to justice for women in Kenya and enhance pubic awareness of women’s rights.
Global Justice Center. 11 Hanover Square, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10005. Tel: 212-725-6530. www.globaljusticecenter.net. Lawyers and advocates who specialize in international law for the purpose of advancing gender equality and human rights.
International Rescue Committee. 122 East 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10168-1289. Tel: 212-551-3179. www.rescue.org.Providing assistance to people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by conflict and disaster.
Legal Momentum. 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004. Tel: 212-925-6635. www.legalmomentum.org. Legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls. Programs focus on human trafficking, workplace equality, violence against women and girls, equal education opportunities, and fairness in the courts.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 600 Grant, Suite 750, Denver, Colorado 80203. Tel: 303-839-1852. www.ncadv.org. Mission is to support efforts to demand a change in conditions leading to domestic violence, supporting survivors, and holding offenders accountable.
National Partnership for Women and Families. 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20009. 202-986-2600. www.nationalpartnership.org. Advocates for women’s health, reproductive rights, and economic justice through policy research, participation in coalitions, and public education.
Pace Women’s Justice Center. 78 N. Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603. Tel: 914-422-4188. www.law.pace.edu/bwjc. Legal services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse.
UN Women. United Nations Secretariat, 405 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017-3599. www.unwomen.org. Mission is to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her potential. Liaison offices in Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Ethiopia, United States, Japan, and Switzerland. Numerous regional office in Africa, Americas and Caribbean, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia.
Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice. Noordwal 10 2513 EA The Hague, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 (70) 302 9911. www.iccwomen.org. This office works with women most affected by conflict situations under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). They advocate for accountability & prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence crimes and gender justice through the International Criminal Court (ICC) and domestic courts.
Women’s Refugee Commission. 15 West 37th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10018. Tel: 212-551-3115. www.womenscommission.org. They work to improve the lives and protect the rights of women and children displaced by conflict and violence.
Women’s Legal Centre. 7th Floor Constitution House, 124 Adderley Str., Cape Town, South Africa. www.wice.co.za. Established by a group of women lawyers to advance women’s rights – particularly vulnerable and marginalised women – and to promote their access to justice and equitable resources.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Kodzero/Amalungelo House, No. 103 Sam Nujoma (2nd) Street, Harare, Zimbabwe. www.zlhr.org. Mission is to protect and defend human rights through sustainable litigation, education and advocacy and help build a culture of tolerance and adherence to democratic values and practices.
Pedro takes us on the journey that has seen him become a volunteer contributor
One of my favourite hobbies is running. I like to run marathons and felt that it did me good. However, over time (and in my native Portugal), I have come to realise that amateur athletes are increasingly trying to be professional runners. With this, the feeling of help and availability to others is less. I have watched a lot of athletes who get hurt or feel bad in amateur racing and almost no one helps because it doesn’t improve their personal records!
I participated in the Athens marathon, and had a muscle break at km 15. Another athlete realised my suffering in continuing the race and decided to “abdicate” his personal record to accompany me. He didn’t know me but he did this for me. Throughout the race he told me that each marathon has a history, and this is the medal that is important. Not how fast you run, but the good you can do.
It opened my horizons. From that day, I decided that I could be like him myself. No matter how fast I run, how much money I make, or food I have, there are people around the world who have none of this. Then I started thinking about what I could do to help the world. The first thing I did was open the UN Volunteers website. I saw what I could contribute and shortly after I arrived at the Tanzania Development Trust. I started mapping and giving up some time spent marathon training to help those in need and at risk of FGM. My goal is now!
Find out more here about how you can also become a volunteer contributor from anywhere in the world.
When I first realised the need for maps in Tanzania 4 years ago
and started Crowd2Map I had not heard of Missing Maps. However about 3 months in I
came across the very active and friendly London group which I have been
attending fortnightly ever since, and their support and advice has been
invaluable. This week Missing Maps
turned 5, a time of reflection for the founders including Ivan Gayton.
He originally envisioned it as a finite endeavour that shouldn’t last more than 4 years, and states “The idea was: what if instead of relying on media coverage of crises to generate volunteer engagement to map after disasters had already struck, we used the power of humanitarian movements to build a community to map the homes of vulnerable people before disasters?
In Haiti in 2010, using OpenStreetMap data was an interesting new idea,
practiced by a couple of innovators alongside the “proper, professional GIS”
being done by the cluster coordination. By the time Typhoon Haiyan hit the
Philippines in 2013, OpenStreetMap was at least co-equal with the closed data.
In the West African Ebola outbreak
in 2014 open, community-generated map data was unquestionably the dominant
source of geographical information. Open map data is now the default for
humanitarian and crisis response.
So why didn’t we declare victory and move on? Why do we still
need the Missing Maps? Because what I had originally seen as success turned out
to be no more than a starting point. I had failed to anticipate the range of
uses for open map data. I was focused on patient origins and spatial
epidemiology—still critically important but not the only impactful use—and did
not realize the importance and possibilities of locally-driven field mapping.
The remote volunteering and mapathons, which attracted a startlingly diverse
and extraordinarily passionate volunteer community, have now largely
accomplished the original goal of creating the base-map vector features in some
places. There’s more to be done, to be sure, but the key gap in many places is
no longer digitization, its local knowledge and ways to operationalize the
The ultimate goal of humanitarian action is to save life,
alleviate suffering, and restore dignity. Mappers cannot claim to save lives
directly; if we are to have an impact it is by facilitating those who are
saving lives (or helping themselves). To reach its full potential, the Missing
Maps must not only provide basemap data, but to enrich them with local
knowledge and see that the maps are put to use.
I now see three phases of Missing
1) Create a base layer of vector data across the most vulnerable
areas of the globe using digital volunteers
2) Infuse local knowledge into the map using field mapping
campaigns in collaboration with local people (the most critical local knowledge
being local place-names, landmarks, and administrative divisions—without which
we cannot disambiguate locations described by people in their own words).
3) Actively partner with people working to save lives, alleviate
suffering, and restore dignity to make them more effective using our data,
skills, and knowledge.
The Missing Maps has basically succeeded at phase one in many
places. Phase two is in progress; many of us are increasingly engaged in work
with local communities to add the local information to the map that makes it
useful and relevant to people working in these contexts. Phase three has, in my
view, not yet even properly begun. Sure, a few well-funded agencies have better
GIS support as a result of the Missing Maps, and there are sporadic uses of
Missing Maps data arising spontaneously here and there throughout the
humanitarian field, but humanitarian action and crisis response are still
nowhere near achieving the additional effectiveness that a truly inclusive
global community of mapping practice could provide.
For example, in the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, patient origins are still poorly understood. This is not
even to speak of the colossal gap in disease surveillance throughout the
low-income world, the lack of accurate demographic data for public health and
services, the desperate lack of transparency in land titles, or the difficulty
in navigating the more or less informal settlements that one-quarter of
humanity live in. The Missing Maps should be saving and improving many more
lives. It can do so once we are working directly with people on the front lines,
understanding their problems and constraints, and working with them to
operationalize map data.
There are hundreds of thousands of health centres in Africa
awaiting the support needed to properly understand their patients’ origins and
act upon them to reduce disease burdens. There are aid agencies, civil
servants, private businesses, taxi drivers, public health ministries,
environmental activists, scientists, farmers, and pizza delivery bicyclists
waiting for our help (in some cases whether they know it or not). The Missing
Maps must become much more than a digital volunteer community, it must become
an inclusive global movement to empower all of the things that save and improve
Finally, maps themselves can in some small way contribute to
human dignity. To be on a map is to be acknowledged, is to be known, is to be
recognised, is to be counted. It is for the world to know that you are there
and that you have needs, that you have rights, and that you must not be
forgotten or passed over. This requires more than a nice map on the Web made by
digital volunteers and aid agencies, it requires working together with the
inhabitants of the previously neglected places in the world. Five years in, the
Missing Maps has seen success beyond our wildest dreams. But it turns out the
work is just beginning, and we must go beyond our original digital volunteering
mandate to achieve our full potential. Let’s get to it, shall we?”
Thank you to Ivan for expressing the rationale behind Crowd2Map
so clearly. We want to partner with
anyone interested in mapping for development in Tanzania and beyond – so if you
any suggestions please do get in touch.