Mapping Tanzania: A Follow-Up

This post was written by Stevie Benton, co-founder of @opencoalition.

One of the projects showcased at the MozFest 2016 Science Fair was an effort to create open maps of rural Tanzania. Janet Chapman ran a session at MozFest to bring new people into the project and expand the map’s content. These areas have never been digitally mapped before so this is an important localisation and digital inclusion effort. We caught up with Janet after the Festival to see how things were going.

So, Janet, how was MozFest for you?

It was brilliant! I’ve been going for a few years but I’ve never been a contributor before. I met some amazing people, hopefully they will carry on working with us. I learned a lot and got some fantastic advice, particularly around mapping. We would absolutely run a session at MozFest again, and we’re hoping to do so next year.

Did you make any progress with your project?

The map is now at 97% complete from 84% previously. You can help us complete the task here. We’re making a printed map to take to Tanzania. We’re still hoping to get at, or near, 100% completion. We’ve also set up a task for the adjoining [geographical] area as well. Our map ends at a bit of an arbitrary place so we’re now going to take it up to Lake Victoria.

What were the benefits of MozFest for you and your project?

I met quite a lot of people who are linked into other networks and were really happy to promote our work. I also met people from the Mozilla Foundation who want to help. We also found some mapping experts who are amazing and will give us some pro bono help. It was a really valuable experience.

Describe how your project will help people in Tanzania.

Ours is a fairly new project so we are at the beginning. In the areas we work there is a limited understanding of maps because people haven’t had access to maps of their areas. We are only just scratching the surface. I was speaking to one of our representatives today who is going to run a mapping project with community change agents in every ward in this area of Tanzania. We’re going to map all the local health facilities, adding locations and labels to indicate whether they have water, electricity, qualified staff, toilets and other amenities. We will also work with the local medical officer to apply gold, silver, bronze labels to the facilities. There will be sessions at regional level with health and education officers, they will be able to see a map to oversee all of their facilities for the first time. Coming directly from MozFest, we will be using a piece of software called Carto to identify gaps in service provision. The healthcare professionals haven’t been able to do this before.

MozFest will have a direct impact on the quality of life of people in Tanzania.

Read Janet’s short article about her MozFest session here. For more information about the project, you can follow it on Twitter here. You can also follow Janet Chapman here.

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