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News — 12 January, 2012

A return to Haiti two years on

It is January 12th, 2012, 2 years after the quake, that I started my eighth trip to Haiti where HOT will partner with the Communauté OpenStreetMap Haiti (COSMHA). The project, STM0120, funded by USAID/OTI/HRI. This project aims at building a team of 30 youths from the communes of Saint Marc, Arcahaie and Cabaret as well as mapping the Saint Marc Development Corridor (SMDC) formed by those three communes in the course of the next three months.

The 12th of January is not an ordinary day in Haiti. One thinks about the dead, the injured, the damages, and those who survive, those who continue to live with this recent part of Haiti’s history. One is also forced to contemplate the tremendous effort of global and local unity at work in the immediate aftermath of the quake and after. Lastly, one looks ahead towards the reconstruction of Haiti to pursue and strengthen this solidarity.

The OSM project is one of the examples of this global solidarity at play after the quake in Haiti and now grounded in Haiti. The OSM response has been been timely, massive, relevant and continued. Today it results in a referenced base map which has been widely used by the broad humanitarian system, the government of Haiti and groups of the Civil Society during emergency response to the current early recovery phase. The map has been maintained mostly in Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, but also in Leogane, Jacmel and Gonaives by humanitarian groups, Haitian mappers from COSMHA, as well as international mappers active in Haiti. Paid projects such as humanitarian and baseline data surveys led by the International Organization of Migration ((IOM), the Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) and Architecture for Humanity (AFH), working in partnership with Haitians from COSMHA and benefiting from various forms of support by HOT, generate incomes which in return allow for some the Haitian mappers to engage voluntarily in community-driven and self managed mapping projects such as Soley Leve and Tap Tap Map). Trainings form the second pillar of the OSM activity in country and have been largely happening from within IOM and UN facilities benefiting all player in the humanitarian system, the Government of Haiti and groups from Civil Society. Aside from those typical humanitarian facilities, the Resource Center of Haiti Communitere (HC) has gained a central position over the last year, offering COSMHA a lab from where meeting, training, designing, planning and implementing projects is possible. Through the facilitation of Jaakko Helleranta, the Ecole Supérieure d’infotronique d’Haïti (ESIH) has developed over the last months as another lab from which further OSM work can develop. Attention to shaping the future of OSM in Haiti guides HOT, COSMHA and internationals into discussing and designing projects around OSM training and data collection to make the system sustainable and grow the community.

The STM020 mapping project that HOT and COSMHA are about to start in Saint Marc results from a long project design phase that started last August between the two organizations and USAID/OTI/HRI. We’d like to thank the initial facilitation role played by Pascale Verly and Leonard Doyle with whom COSMHA and HOT has been working with IOM since a year ago. In the context of the second anniversary of 12-Jan, it’s rewarding for HOT to work on this project as a contractor of COSMHA which is the grantee of this project.

Both structures find in USAID/OTI/HRI a sound partner, understanding of OSM and willing through this project to assess the potential of its approach around building capacities through our Train The Trainer (TTT) scheme and baseline surveys and mapping in the context of local economic development.

A HOT/COSMHA team of ten supported in the initial three weeks by 3 trainers will be based in Saint Marc in a hub of their own both a workplace and a lodging center equipped with adequate hardware and furnished with the right logistics assets to train 30 Youths from the Saint Marc Development Corridor (SMDC) in the art of mapping ala OSM and altogether improve upon the base map of these three communes.

The project will be carried out in close cooperation with SDC communities to ensure relevance of the OSM map in the Corridor. This has been facilitated first hand through the initial ground work laid out by COSMHA, the territorial ties that Levekanpe, the local contractor of USAID/OTI/HRI, has developed in the area, and the 30 Youths representing the various communities from three section communales. Consultation, outreach, awareness, and map releases will be organized. HOT and COSMHA will also be attentively engaged with Local and National Authorities through similar outreach activitties and through ad hoc training based on available resources.

COSMHA and HOT seek to make of Saint Marc a hub for the development of OSM in Haiti and will use the community gained over the last two years within the Haitian GIS world to connect the Saint Marc Youths to the various uses of OSM that have been happening in Haiti, presenting lectures or hands-on sessions on topics such as Geography, crisis mapping, GIS applied to humanitarian, urban planning. This will be done with the view of replicating some successes in Saint Marc after the three months project. Asides from the Youths, what HOT is looking at is to grow the ability of COSMHA to manage such projects and be able to replicate it in a phase 2.0 with USAID/OTI/HRI. The project will also be a working ground for HOT with the hosting of volunteers and interns, who can be acquainted with field work and help the team to meet the challenge.

HOT also has a role to play in this mapping project from afar and after the initial set up the team will respond with ideas of engagement for those who are willing to step in.

Finally, to ensure the widest usability of the map of Saint Marc as well as enhancing the HOT toolsets, data download and web-visualization services will be built. Data download services will be developed to facilitate the generation of OSM extracts (osm, Spatialite and shapefile) based upon preset files. This will foster access to customized data extracts and facilitate the process for COSMHA to make the data resulting from its surveys and mapping accessible to all.

Plane landed a couple of hours ago in Ayiti, more soon.