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News — 22 March, 2017

How Youth Mappers in Uganda are improving their mapping skills through mapping with HOT for Malaria Elimination

During our 2nd year at University for our Internship in 2016 we were privileged to work with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) in Uganda to map Financial Inclusion in the capital Kampala and the Eastern part of Uganda. Through the project, we got to learn about OpenStreetMap and mobile data collection techniques. We got the opportunity to lead teams of other university students to collect the data, clean it up and upload it to OpenStreetMap.

At the end of the project, we needed to get more involved in OpenStreetMap and HOT activities. To be able to spread the knowledge to the rest of the students at our University who had not participated in the project, we formed a Youth Mappers chapter - Geo Youth Mappers which is now part of the global Youth Mappers network. There is now a total 5 Youth Mappers chapters, in 5 different Universities in Uganda alone.


Team Mappers for Life - Uganda Christian University, Mbale


CSGU Mappers - Gulu University Chapter


Everlast Mappers - Kumi University Chapter


Early this year, we were requested to participate in the Malaria Elimination project where HOT and DigitalGlobe have teamed up to identify and map populated places in an area of interest covering over 500,000 square kilometers in Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America to support the Clinton Health Access Initiative efforts to eliminate malaria and other interventions.


Now half way through the project, this has proved to be the perfect opportunity for the new Youth Mappers chapters in Uganda to get more experienced in mapping. Mr. Geoffrey Kateregga a Mapping Supervisor and OSM Trainer for HOT is visiting all the chapters in Uganda and giving more advanced training in Mapping using JOSM as well as validation skills, this has enabled us to discover our mapping superpowers that we can use to grow as Youth Mappers.

Geo Youth Mappers Makerere University Chapter

Geo Youth Mappers - Makerere University Chapter

While using the iD editor is the easiest and most convenient way to get started with mapping, mappers get more power to map when using the Java OpenStreetMap editor. JOSM allows you to map faster with keyboard shortcuts and a series of editing tools for common tasks and specialised plugins like the buildings tool, FastDraw. The project has also allowed more experienced mappers to grow into validators, giving the much needed feedback to the new mappers who are just getting started.

The best mappers at each chapter are part of the visiting team and are able to share experiences and mapping tips. This has helped the chapters that were still struggling to get more used to the mapping process. At the Kumi University visit, sharing on why she continues to map every day, Musawo Carolyne from Team Good Mappers at Busitema University shared that for her it is very satisfying to know that through mapping she can help save a life in another part of the world, “For me that is the driving force that encourages me to map every day” she said.

In just the last 30 days, the Youth Mappers in Uganda have mapped over 129,698 buildings, modified 129,698 ways and made a total of 748,706 map changes.

Still to come, all chapters in Uganda are to receive more training on how the OpenStreetMap data can be used for analysis and visualization using tools like QGIS and Carto. Indeed the project is proving to be very valuable for all of us that are involved.

With the first ever State of the Map Africa happening this year in Kampala, Uganda, the Malaria Elimination project is an opportunity for us as Youth Mappers to showcase at the conference how mapping can help save lives through the Malaria Elimination programme.

By Stellamaris Wavamunno Nakacwa and Faridah Nakabugo, students at Makerere University Kampala.