Community growth: What we learned about improving the membership and diversity of OSM Kenya through the community impact microgrants.

Laura Mugeha

Playlists: 'sotm2021' videos starting here / audio

Between December 2020 to March 2021, the OSM Kenya team ran a project whose focus was on growing the OSM community locally: both in terms of membership and diversity. The project was supported through the Facebook and HOTOSM community impact microgrants. In this session, we will share about the community, project: from ideation(community health), motivation to implementation. This will include the activities involved, our experience, challenges that we encountered, and the lessons learned.

Being one of the awardees for the 2020 Community Impact Microgrants by HOTOSM and Facebook, the OpenStreetMap community in Kenya ran a virtual three-month training program for women and girls interested in OSM. While the project was implemented towards the end of 2020, the ideation process began at the start of the year when discussing community health and brainstorming on activities to conduct virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. This included carrying out a community survey, identifying gaps and challenges, and figuring out what next. Our key focus was community growth, especially in terms of diversity and membership. We had some virtual activities that introduced new mappers to the community but still saw no diversity improvement.

We, therefore, designed a women-only training program that would run for eight weeks. We were able to train a group of 35 beginner-level and intermediate-level mappers on all aspects of open mapping. Activities included hands-on workshops, presentations, and mapathons. During this period, we had some successes, learned a lot, but we also had a good share of challenges. We hope that by sharing our experience, other communities interested in implementing similar programs can learn more about the same; we also hope to have discussions that would improve future iterations of the program.