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News — 13 October, 2023

Participatory waste mapping: a continuing effort for sustainable development

Mapping waste in your neighborhood can be a simple activity that is both useful and beneficial for our urban environment.Let's see how various teams of mappers in Latin America and the Caribbean have been doing it.

Since 2022, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team has initiated an ongoing effort to form a movement of participatory mapping of waste in open space, be it urban, natural or aquatic. The goal is for this movement to become bigger and stronger year after year, becoming a relevant force in generating data for the Sustainable Development Goal 12, related to waste management.

In 2022, the Mapillary app was used to collect georeferenced images of waste-filled spaces or specific waste. The community was invited to participate, and student groups from Cusco, Peru, and Bolivia joined the initiative.

This year, 2023, we launched the campaign taking advantage of the OpenLitterMap application, which allows you to take georeferenced photos and apply descriptive labels and the amount of waste (see tutorial). Participation has increased significantly, with 201 people from 12 different countries.

The data collected through this movement has provided valuable information on the distribution and type of waste in open space. This data can be used to inform policy decision makers and action officials so they can improve waste management.

Mapping waste in Latin America and the Caribbean

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In Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean, a virtual training session on OpenLitterMap was held on Monday, September 18, with 21 participants from across the region and the world, thanks to the spreading support of the CDEMA. They were taught how to activate location on their cameras, log into the app and upload data to The Saint Lucia Youth Emergency Action Committees (YEAC) team emerged as the best mappers of the campaign, with great dedication to improving their communities and building resilience.


In Bolivia, participation has been strong, and has occurred through three groups with a total of 140 participants. The La Paz group: Team Hacklab r00thouse La Paz, which are part of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, but also include students from other universities. In Sucre: students from the Universidad Pontificia San Francisco Xavier with the collaboration of Dr. Scarlett Martínez. In Beni, students from the Universidad Autónoma José Ballivian of Beni, with the support of Engineer Daniel Zubieta.


In Cusco, Peru, various neighborhoods of the city that face the waste problem have been mapped. 40 GAL School students participated, mainly from secondary school, linking curricular content with active learning. The participation and empowerment of students -using open mapping as a tool- has been effective, even raising awareness among passers-by who asked what the objective was sought when mapping the garbage. On the other hand, the use of new technologies and their application has motivated them to collaborate more with society.

Whats Next?

The Humanitarian Team is committed to continuing to promote this movement. We encourage interested organizations to join us in planning next year or to organize waste mapping campaigns outside of the World Cleanup Day season.

Where would it be useful to have a survey of abandoned garbage information? Over what periods would monitoring make sense? How do you need to use them for your campaigns, projects or maintenance plans? These are questions that can help organizations plan their waste mapping campaigns.



The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team appreciates the enthusiasm and dedication with which the teams of mappers participated in this activity. And especially to the campaign leaders who in each country or region took on the selfless challenge of training and guiding their teams in the weeks that the participatory waste mapping lasted. To Dr. Patricia Llanos, Professor Gilmar Vergara and Louise Mathurin-Serieux our deep gratitude.

Also find out how we collaborate with National Institutes of Geography.

If you want to be part of the community of volunteer mappers of the LAC Open Mapping Hub, write an email to with Subject: Volunteer mapper.

If you are part of an organization that wants to explore how to collaborate on a project, write an email to with Subject: LAC Projects.

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