We were delighted to help organise and participate in the Second State of the Map Tanzania in January 2023. It brought together a diverse community of individuals and organizations driven by a common goal: using and contributing to with the theme “Supporting Progress Towards the SDGs with Open Mapping.”
Over 130 individuals from 8+ countries attended, including over 50 YouthMappers students from 17 universities in Tanzania. We had wonderful discussions of new developments, and collaboration on projects aimed at improving OpenStreetMap and open data in Tanzania, promoting cartographic innovation, and using OpenStreetMap as a tool to catalyse progress.
On December 22nd 2022 we talked at State of the Map Nigeria about the journey of the Crowd2map project since it’s origins severn years ago, highlighting the successes as well as challenges the project and its mappers have faced. You can find a link to the slides here and link to the YouTube video here.
With now over 17,000 volunteers both online and in person, we have managed to map an incredible 5.3 million buildings, over 300,00km of road and over 10,000 Points of Information (POI). It is the combination of our global online mappers with access to complex digital mapping software’s like TaskManager and the local knowledge of our field mappers that continue to make this project so successful and worthwhile. This has saved many vulnerable girls from gender-based violence (GBV) and female genital mutilation (FGM) as well as a tool for development across rural Tanzania. You can see the huge impact of our work by comparing the map of Mugumu before and after our intervention.
Despite these obvious successes, Crowd2map continues to face problems around gender inequality and poverty in relation to in person mappers. While our remote mappers are majorly well educated and with good access to technology, our field mappers live in some of the poorest regions of rural Tanzania, with many never having even used a smartphone or any kind of technology. It is Tanzanian women that are particularly affected by lack of access to the internet. A microgrant we received in 2017 went a little way to buying cheap smartphones that were integrated into the mapping community, allowing for more women to get involved. The gendered stigma around the role and desired characteristics of women, however, continues to limit their potential within the Cord2map project.
Many of the female in person mappers have reported instances in which they have been discouraged from getting involved with mapping from their male counterparts, instead being told they should stay at home and take on more traditional domestic roles. In more extreme cases, women have been victims of physical and/ or sexual violence while undertaking mapping tasks. This is rooted in an inherently sexist culture which continues to limit the potential of women across Tanzania. Women are very unlikely to put themselves forward to lead mapping tasks in comparison to men, despite having more than enough potential to take on these roles.
To tackle this issue, we as a community must do more to educate the Tanzanian locals on the importance and significance of mapping as well as encouraging a more positive and less discriminatory attitude towards women and their capabilities. We can continue to reduce occurrences of physical and emotional abuse from men towards women through education, as well as allowing women to regain their confidence and integrity within the mapping community. Setting up women only mapping groups or requiring at least 50% female participation also goes a long way to reduce this gender inequality.
We are making good progress already. With now over 200 women trained to be digital champions, leading the fight against FGM and GBV in Tanzania through mapping, the death rate has fallen by 75%. More than 3000+ girls have been rescued along escape routes discovered through the Crowd2map project, and we continue to look out for important institutions such as police stations that can further our progress, all while encouraging more and more female participation in mapping efforts.
There are so many ways in which you can get involved with the Crowd2map project and contribute to our growing success. You can start by attending some of our upcoming events or visiting this page to get ideas on how you can contribute.
Last year we hosted our first cohort of interns recruited as part of the Youthmappers Everywhere She Maps initiative which was a great success. You can read quotes from some of the participants here. Building on that we were delighted to recruit 12 more Youthmapper interns for our second cohort.who started at the beginning of October. They come from 6 different African countries and we organise training via Zoom and WhatsApp delivered by their mentor GIS specialist Herry Kassunga and variious outside experts. They also participate in training delivered as part of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Data Interns program.
We are continuing with our monthly mapping groups training, and have set up a new group in Shinyanga. We are also mapping school journeys with Ikondo School in Kagera, who have particularly dangerous routes during the rainy season as you can see in this photo.
We are also now mapping in Singida in the area around the village development project we are about to start in partnership with EuCanAid. This will bring access to water, a clinic, and improvements to the primary school in Mduguyu village. This area was very poorly mapped so we set up this project and have been training field mappers to add their local knowledge. We will then produce village and district level maps for the community.
We are also continuing to map areas where girls are at risk of FGM, particularly in the lead up to the cutting season expected in December.
Finally we are busy helping organise the second State of the Map Tanzania conference. This will be a hybrid conference so we hope many of you will be able to join from wherever in the world you are – we already have a brilliant range of speakers confirmed, and the call for talks is still open.
Thank you again for your generosity which enables this entirely volunteer run project to keep going.
This month we have been celebrating just some of the women around the world who contribute to our work to eradicate FGM in Tanzania.
This week, Lowri shares her experience of mapping over the last seven months.
What are you doing currently: I am currently a second year student studying BA History at the University of Exeter in the UK.
Why this cause: I came across this cause through the United Nations online volunteer website and it instantly appealed to me. Participating in mapping feels like such a simple way to make such a huge difference to real people’s lives from behind my laptop. Mapping is super enjoyable whilst also helping a wonderful cause. I feel really passionate about the goal of the Tanzania Development Trust in attempting to prevent the awful cases of FGM that are happening in Tanzania. I think as a young female, the cause really resonated with me and I felt super keen on trying to help. It has really made me appreciate even more the safety of where I am fortunate enough to have been born and live. Furthermore, I have enjoyed the challenge of learning how to map as I was completely new to it so I feel like I have gained a new skill in the 7 months I have been mapping for!
We are continuing our celebration of the many women who support our work as volunteer mappers around the world. Our volunteers make up a global cohort that is collaborating virtually to map rural Tanzania, and help end FGM. We will be releasing a new post each week throughout March:
This week, Megan Huber explains why mapping is important to her and others.
Location: Virginia, USA
What are you doing currently: I’m a contractor in the security and defence sector supporting the development of gender mainstreaming practices and integrating a gender perspective into cross-functional workstreams.
Why this cause: Initiatives that prevent and protect women and girls against any forms of violence are very dear to my heart. I aspire to remain resilient in tackling gender-based violence and volunteering through Tanzania Development Trust reminds me of how violence is not discriminate, but the different forms are depending on many factors (such as age and gender). There are many chances to grow through this initiative, I recommend it!
Why mapping: Being able to volunteer virtually is a lot more convenient for international folk. GIS is a unique skill that I find very interesting, so being able to combine two areas that I like makes this volunteering opportunity very motivating to me!
This Women’s Month we are celebrating some of the many women who support our work as volunteer mappers around the world. Our volunteers make up a global cohort that is collaborating virtually to map rural Tanzania, and help end FGM. We will be releasing a new post each week throughout March:
This week we caught up with Sharon Omoja.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
What are you doing currently: I am currently a GIS Analyst at Naturesurf systems in Nairobi. I volunteer for OpenStreetMap Kenya where I am involved in coordinating some of the community’s activities and training new mappers.
I also volunteer as a mentor mapper for URISA’s GIS Corps in Crowd2Map Tanzania projects, on mapping to end early child marriages and FGM in rural Tanzania. Am also part of Women in geospatial where I serve in the mentorship programme, communications working group and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion working group.
Why this cause: I am passionate about matters on humanitarian actions and I have been involved in so many Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team mapping projects for disaster responses. I also joined URISAs GIS Corps as a volunteer in their project with Crowd2Map Tanzania because I love working on actions that are geared towards achieving SDG5, creating safe spaces for women and girls.
Why mapping: Data availability is important as it helps to empower various organizations and communities to make important decisions in their work. For example, when we come together and map before a crisis happens, the response is faster. Mapping our community also helps us understand it better, like the resources we have, and how can we utilize them and what’s missing.
Mapping since: I joined OSM in 2016 but started serious mapping in 2018
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.