Building mapping communities in rural Tanzania – challenges, successes and lessons learnt

Janet Chapman

Playlists: 'sotm2020' videos starting here / audio

Crowd2Map Tanzania is a volunteer run crowdsourced project that has been mapping rural Tanzania since 2015. This talk will give an overview of some of the lessons learnt, particularly in building mapping communities in remote rural areas with first time smartphone users.

Since 2015, we have been adding schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and villages to OpenStreetMap with the help of over 12500 volunteers worldwide and 600 on the ground in Tanzania. With minimal budget and no staff we have so far added over 4.1 million buildings and trained community mappers in 26 areas of Tanzania. We were asked to run a mapathon at the United Nations General Assembly in October 2018 and have also been featured in many newspaper articles.
We have prioritised mapping those areas of Tanzania where girls are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, so that activists and the police can more easily find and protect them. But we have also been working with other community groups and district officials on how maps of their area can help with development.
The mapping is in two phases – firstly online volunteers trace roads and buildings from satellite images then volunteers on the ground add names of villages, offices, churches, shops and other points of interest using a free smartphone app Maps.Me and we then produce printable maps of villages, wards and districts, and train people about how they can use these maps.
Training field mappers who have never been online, seen a map of their village, or used a smartphone before has multiple challenges.
This talk will outline some of them, and lessons learnt, and seek to stimulate a discussion from the wider community on sharing good practice and resources in this area.