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News — 12 February, 2013

Eurosha in Kenya: making-up and perspectives for the second Hot support

In Kenya, 6 Eurosha volunteers have been deployed since Early October. Caroline, and Hannington from Kenya and Janja, Barbara Lenka, Marine from Europe are all are hosted in Molo by People in Peril Association, a Eurosha partner that works with a Kenyan NGO called NECOFA (Network for Ecofarming in Africa) they fund with the support of Slovak Aid. Necofa acts on various areas in Central Kenya, especially along the Molo River. Necofa’s office in Molo is where the Eurosha volunteers normally works where they do not travel for their outreaching or collecting activities, using then a “matatu", a local minibus, used the rest of time for safaris.

In Kenya, 6 Eurosha volunteers have been deployed since Early October. Caroline, and Hannington from Kenya and Janja, Barbara Lenka, Marine from Europe are all are hosted in Molo by People in Peril Association, a Eurosha partner that works with a Kenyan NGO called NECOFA (Network for Ecofarming in Africa) they fund with the support of Slovak Aid. Necofa acts on various areas in Central Kenya, especially along the Molo River. Necofa’s office in Molo is where the Eurosha volunteers normally works where they do not travel for their outreaching or collecting activities, using then a “matatu", a local minibus, used the rest of time for safaris.

There are places in Africa that do not have the hot temperatures everyone commonly have in mind for the continent and Molo is definitely one of them: 2500 m high and it is often wet. Think twice about washing your pullover if you took only one. The districts of Molo, Kuresoi and Njoro are made of small towns and rural areas who had faced ethnic-based violence in 2007 after the election of the current President of Kenya, and this is expected to happen again this year, despite numerous peacebuilding activities. Collecting humanitarian data on these areas was on the main aims of the Eurosha volunteers. Lower down from the Molo river, the potential humanitarian issues change for flood prones, increased by the deforestation in the upper stream (which NECOFA is fighting against by changing the local agricultural habits). Unfortunately, large areas were not covered by high res imagery, but the US Department will kindly supporting the mapping effort by providing DigitalGlobe imagery.

Of course, outreaching activities were also key activity for the volunteers at the beginning of their deployment: presenting the project and advocating for the use of opensource and opendata platform (OSM and Sahana Eden). The aimed audience is both the large humanitarian organizations, mostly based in Nairobi, like UN-OCHA, and various stakeholders in the outskirts of Molo, including the executives from local authorities, Peacebuilding Committees, Kenya Red Cross, Norwegian Refugees Council, World Vision... All were thrilled by the data, the collecting capacities, some OSM services like MapOSMatic and/or training to be able to handle the mapping techniques.

The first training and mapping field occurred in Marigat when I deployed in Kenya to both technically and strategically support the volunteers. After having met almost all the local stakeholders, we selected local community volunteers to join us in a field mapping on both the city and the flood prone areas close to the riverbanks. To have an idea of what it looks like, please watch the fancy video made by one of the volunteers.

A second field happened later, when I had already left, and this time the volunteers trained World Vision staff to OSM techniques, in order to both help them having the capacity to fulfill their mapping objectives and to build up local OSM capacities. This is why the local volunteers that had been involved in the first event were once again involved in this second one. Of course, Eurosha is not the first OSM project in Kenya. Everybody knows about Map Kibera and the success it is for years. The Eurosha volunteers have visited Map Kibera Trust headquarters. The two groups quickly got on well and decided to occasionally map together in both Kibera (mapping election in East Soweto and Silanga) and the rural area around Molo as a good opportunity to discover the field of each other and share techniques. The volunteers have also visited iHub, Ushahidi and Frontline SMS and attended the “Communication is Aid: Humanitarian, Media and Technology Collaboration" forum organized by Adeso (African Development Solutions), OCHA and Internews in December where they met different partners with whom to collaborate.

Early February, the volunteers are planning their last field activities in Kenya, both in Kureroi and Molo, in order to provide OSM data on the most violence prone areas in these districts. For security reasons, they will leave the country at the end of the month, before election, to prevent any potential risk. They will then be deployed in Burundi, where they will continue their activity to create and promote open data in Kenya. Since the beginning of this week, Stephane Henriod is supporting them for their last two weeks in Kenya and first in Burundi, as the second HOT field mission planned by the Eurosha program. I am sure he brings them the best support they need!