When it became clear that the collaborative project between HOT and the COSMHANNE community organisation in Haiti would need a technical OSM training component in French, the OSM DRC community stepped in.
On 14 August 2021, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, devastating the island. Available data in OpenStreetMap (OSM) for the Sud and Grande Anse departments dated back to 2016 (from the response to Hurricane Matthew) and did not include significant changes to the landscape, including newly constructed buildings and roads. HOT and the COSMHANNE community in Haiti developed a project together to build technical and organisational capacity through training and mapping in order that the community could address this lack of up-to-date data.
Although the project met several difficult challenges (to be covered in another blog post), providing high quality, remote technical training in French wasn’t one of them, thanks to the skills and professionalism of the Congolese mappers.
“Personally, I had the opportunity to exchange my experience and knowledge with contributors outside DRC and, to this day, we continue to exchange with some COSMHANNE contributors.” - Muluba, OSM DRC
The recent completion of the OSM DRC community’s GCC community mapping project meant the team in North Kivu was ready, with materials already developed and a stack of recent experience under their belts (greater than 200 Congolese healthcare staff trained in OSM and GIS). Not only that, but the DRC team were also familiar with many of the constraints that the Haiti community faced, including connectivity issues and resource challenges as well as having experience of some of the same contextual factors, such as conflict, health issues and natural disasters.
As Wendy from COSMHANNE noted, “through this great experience, COSMHANNE was able to fill in many gaps and at the same time gain autonomy at both technical and organisational levels. We can say without hesitation that COSMHANNE is a stronger, more autonomous community, ready to accomplish its mission of promoting OSM collaborative mapping for sustainable development in Haiti.”
Over six days, the OSM DRC community trained 30 people in Haiti in data collection, mapping and GIS. The trainees reported a greater than 65% average increase in their knowledge across all of the technical topics.
The feedback on the training was excellent, with Wendy from COSMHANNE stating that, “the participatory approach allowed for a lot of exchange and interaction and was well calculated and adapted to the circumstances. The big challenge was to synthesise a vast training programme to essentials that could be delivered in a few days and this was done brilliantly in a coherent sequence of modules.”
And, the Haitian trainees weren’t the only ones that benefited from the peer-learning methodology with Christian from OSM DRC highlighting that the initiative “allows the OSM DRC community to open up to others and showcase its expertise. By developing and replicating this, we can become more knowledgeable and provide training adapted to the choices and needs of OSM learners.”
From a personal perspective, Muluba from OSM DRC also identified benefits. “The research I did during the preparation of my module on quality control and assurance tools helped me develop greater capacity for these topics.”
Wendy from COSMHANNE also shared how the initiative has opened up space for future exchange. “Of course, we can share experiences and knowledge between communities. But, we hope that the HOT-COSMHANNE-OSM-RDC collaboration can go even further, even leading to partnerships and the opportunity for members of the respective communities to travel and lend a hand to each other in case of great need or disaster.”