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News — 10 March, 2022

The ESA Open Mapping Grants: Reviewed and Revised

In November 2020, the Open Mapping Hub - Eastern and Southern Africa received 20 applications from OSM Communities in 17 countries in the region for Open Mapping Grants (OMG). Following an internal application review, we decided not to award any grants in the October - December 2021 term, and instead revised the Open Mapping Grants concept for January - March 2022. This blog explains these decisions, shares and celebrates our learnings as a team and describes the rationale for our newly adopted approach and what people can expect for next steps. You can view the longer (and more detailed!) “Review of the OMG 2021” here.

What Happened?

In September 2021, we launched the ‘Community Dialogues’ (adapted from the Open Mapping Hub - Asia Pacific’s ‘National Dialogues’ initiative) to engage groups (OSM Communities, NGO/CSO Partners, Government agencies) at a national level, to:

  • Introduce the hub, the hub team and activities;

  • Introduce the Open Mapping Grants program;

  • Learn the mapping wants, needs and gaps of the participating groups; and

  • Bring together different actors in the mapping and open data spaces in hub priority countries

In November 2021, as the Community Dialogues were coming to an end, and although we had conceptualized three categories of grants, we expanded and published in-depth aims and objectives for each granting category. Each category was (i) assigned a different level of available funding, (ii) pertained to a different set of objectives and (iii) expected different models of engagement between groups and stakeholders.

The categories were Impact Grants ($30-45K), Community Action Grants ($10-20K) and Community Mobilization grants ($200 per month for 12 months) - for more detailed descriptions, see the Review.

Following an internal assessment of each and every application, we made the difficult decision not to award the proposals that had been submitted and decided to revise the process in the new year. We provided applicants for the Community Impact and Community Action with in-depth feedback on their proposals, and communicated the new approach to all applicants via email.

In January 2022, we redesigned and re-launched the Open Mapping Grants to better support applications to achieve strong and sustainable community growth and to drive social impact in the region. For more information on our next approach, visit here.

What’s in Store?

  • We will ensure that the aims and objectives are well communicated and that applicants have sufficient time to prepare project proposals that meet the specific requirements of the granting program. Additionally, with each granting cycle, we hosted a “Proposal Development Clinic” to clarify requirements and expectations for interested applicants. The Proposal Development Clinic was a great success, and we will continue to host these sessions.

  • To support projects that are impactful, specific, and sustainable, we have reduced the geographical scope of the granting program from 23 countries to an initial 6 to allow the hub to steadily iterate its concepts around the why, what and how of granting in each of the 23 priority countries.

  • Groups from Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia and Kenya were eligible to apply for funding in this round (the deadline was Sunday 27 February 2021). However, other communities from additional countries will be eligible from April 2022 onwards.

  • We have changed the eligibility criteria to allow only organizations that are formally registered to apply for funding in this round. We know that HOT has supported unregistered groups in the past with microgrants (up to $5,000) and we know this is critical to supporting OSM growth in the ESA region. However, the OMG program offers funding from two to eight times this dollar amount.

  • We are supporting a competitive application process. We hope to attract more organizations and groups to innovate, collaborate and develop unique, impactful projects that adequately address existing data gaps within the region.

Next Steps

We are committing to several areas of development that will build towards a long-term, sustainable and community-centered hub approach, whilst achieving HOT’s goal of massively increasing local mapping across ESA. Granting (and support functions around granting) will feed into this longer term trajectory.

These areas of development include:

  • The development and integration of a robust Community Engagement Plan

  • Regular Proposal Development Clinics to provide support and guidance to groups in the region applying for funding from HOT and other granting bodies

  • The development of a more diverse and holistic granting strategy (potentially augmenting open mapping grants with rapid response microgrants and other granting opportunities).