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Peer-to-Peer Learning for Open Mapping Communities

HOT's peer-to-peer learning projects aim to foster knowledge exchange and capacity building among OpenStreetMap (OSM) communities. The initiative focused on enhancing the skills and capabilities of participating communities, enabling them to grow independently and sustainably. The projects involved collaboration between the West and Northern Africa Open Mapping Hub (WNA Hub), OSM DRC, MapUganda, OpenMap Development Tanzania, and OSM Somalia. Through training sessions, workshops, and experiential learning, the initiative aimed to build bridges between OSM communities, fostering long-term benefits for all involved.

Problem: Many OSM communities face challenges related to data quality, organizational capacity, sustainability, and expanding coverage. These challenges hinder their ability to contribute effectively to open mapping initiatives and engage with local communities and governments. Additionally, inadequate access to resources, limited funding, and difficulties in project management further hamper their progress. The peer-to-peer learning projects aimed to address these issues by providing targeted training and support.

Methodology: Two peer-to-peer learning projects have been conducted in Africa. The first project involved OSM DRC and the WNA Hub, where training videos were created and shared with participants. This was followed by a live Zoom training session, enabling participants to delve deeper into the learning material and engage in practical exercises.

The second project brought together OSM Somalia, MapUganda, and OMDTZ. Training sessions were conducted both in-person and online, covering various topics such as business development, partnerships, project management, and GIS. The training period went for three months, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience.

Impact: The peer-to-peer learning projects had a significant impact on the participating communities. Feedback from the trainees highlighted the value of connecting with other communities, exchanging knowledge and skills, and fostering sustainable collaboration. Participants expressed how the training enhanced their understanding and expertise in areas such as GIS, communication, project design, and finance management.

The knowledge gained empowered the communities to submit proposals, develop finance policies, and refine their communication strategies. These projects catalyzed organizational growth and development, enabling communities to expand their open mapping initiatives.

Lessons Learned: The peer-to-peer learning projects demonstrated the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing among OSM communities. They emphasized the importance of addressing capacity gaps and providing continuous support to ensure sustained impact. The projects also highlighted the need for sustainable funding mechanisms, volunteer engagement, and access to necessary resources to overcome challenges faced by OSM communities. Additionally, the experiential learning approach, combining in-person and online training, proved effective in enabling trainees to apply their newfound knowledge in real-world situations.

Next Steps: To scale up the project, it is essential to continue fostering peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange among OSM communities. Regular community working group meetings, held every two weeks, offer a platform for discussing issues related to building an OSM community. The ongoing efforts aim to expand the network of participating communities and facilitate continuous learning and collaboration. Interested individuals and communities can register for the upcoming meetings.