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  • Nwasinachi Menkiti, Texas Tech University

#BeBoldForChange through mapping

Expansion and presence of the YouthMappers network has recorded a precedent increase on OpenStreetMap edits. With more than 15 million map changes from over 4,100 mappers within two years on various projects, in different sectors ranging from Agriculture, Health, Social Vices, disaster, etc, of which the female gender is the greatest beneficiary. Intense mapping for the 3.6 billion female gender which constitutes about 49.6% of the world population (United Nations, 2015) led to our #letgirlsmap campaign which began on March 8th, International Women’s Day and runs until October 10th, International Day of the Girl.

This campaign intends to be continuous with the aim of engaging more female mappers and possibly extending to middle and high school-aged girls. An African proverb says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation”. This we also do through mapping by adding schools and other related information to the map thus improving female enrollment. Incorporating and adding information on the map, such as constitution of genders in schools, forms basis for intervention by stakeholders. For instance, in communities where menstrual hygiene contributes to absenteeism in school, putting information like the number of male and female enrollment, school address, provision of lavatories, and water and sanitation data would help in identifying schools that need these basic amenities. This improves knowledge and access to quality education.

Female Genital Mutilation or cutting is considered as violence against women with about 200 million women as victims (WHO, 2008). This cultural practice has done more harm with emotional, psychological, health damages and death associated to it. Reducing this ugly trend through mapping has saved so many girls and women during the “cutting” season. Thanks to the efforts of Crowd2Map Tanzania and the Tanzanian Development Trust (TDT) that are pioneers of the rescue efforts through mapping, features like roads, houses, water bodies, point of interests in several villages and communities have been added to maps, which has helped to identify the routes and locations of at risk girls for rescue. Presently, more than 100 thousand and 1.5 Million roads and buildings respectively (Nabriye, 2017) have been mapped through that platform. These metrics are expected to increase sharply owing to the participation of volunteers including YouthMappers chapters to the virtual Mapathon held a few days ago to celebrate 13 years of OpenStreetMap (OSM).

Half of the world’s population, mostly pregnant women and children, are at risk of malaria incidence. Although there have been efforts to reduce the prevalence, climate change effects have led to increased resistance of malaria strains to anti-malaria drugs. In order to scale up malaria control and elimination, Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), treatment of clinical cases with Artemisinin combination therapy, and distribution of insecticide treated nets have proven effective (Pinder et al, 2015). To achieve better coverage, YouthMappers has actively contributed to mapping for malaria elimination in countries like Rwanda, Mali, Kenya, Mozambique, etc. The mapping efforts aid in locating the buildings in communities for spraying, estimating the quantity of insecticides needed for the spraying, and the number of households that need insecticide treated nets. A similar procedure is implemented for immunization where mapping efforts are incorporated to identify buildings to ensure efficient house-to-house immunization campaign to eliminate polio and other diseases.

Disaster and risk management is crucial in improving livelihood of humans orchestrated by increased environmental degradation, social vices, poor governance and natural disasters which women are the worst hit. The use of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) – Open Street Map as a wed based approach to resilience is an integral part of efficient humanitarian services, with the quality data generated being an instrument for effective program implementation. Seventy five percent of displaced persons in disasters are women and children, with women normally the caregivers of those affected. This high effect on female gender could be attributed to their limited resources, economic, social and political status in the society (Gokhale, 2008), an example is during the Tsunami that affected the Indian ocean, female deaths were three times greater than that of the male gender (Carballo et al, 2005), similarly African-american women were the most affected (Oxfam, 2005) during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA. It is noteworthy that aftermath of disaster exposes women to sexual violence and even death.

YouthMappers are actively involved in resilience for pre and post disaster response as done in Ecuador after the volcanic eruption, even in Bangladesh for frequent inundation in some parts of the country. Information on features in affected communities were added to the map like buildings to determine where the inhabitants live, roads for escape and outreach routes, water bodies to better equip and inform those living along the river banks in the events of flooding. Presently, there’s an ongoing mapping for resilience to dam flooding in Togo, Mozambique, and Ethiopia and also the mudslide in Sierra Leone by YouthMappers.

Women’s involvement in agriculture has contributed largely to global food sufficiency especially in developing nations where farming, the main stay of their economy are mostly spearheaded by women. Half of the world’s food production and 80% of basic food in sub-Saharan Africa and Caribbean are produced by women, thus eliminating hunger and malnutrition which forms goal two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals lies to a greater extent on women’s participation and support for its attainment. Mapping for food production using open source ware like the OpenStreetMap has gathered support recently this is evidenced in its application in the Feed the Future, a United States Government’s global hunger and food security initiative in the countries of Ghana and Bangladesh to break poverty cycle and reduce malnutrition. Data collected on buildings, roads, water bodies would help identify farm lands, farming households for distribution of agricultural inputs like fertilizer and survey administration to obtain information on farmer’s livelihood for better policy formation. This information would be helpful for agricultural extension officers who are the middle man between the government and the farmers in locating the farmlands, provide on-farm demonstration to farmers for efficient production.

YouthMappers Network has remarkably worked and mapped for women’s course.

NWASINACHI MENKITI is a wife, mother to three lovely kids and the last child of a family of five. Born and bred in Enugu-the coal city, South East, Nigeria. The journey to her PhD program at Texas Tech started three years ago as a product of her spouse’s Fulbright Visiting Scholars Program in the United States. Apart from the windy and wintry Lubbock weather, she’s enjoying the city because of its quietness, similar to Enugu city where she has spent greater part of her life. At Texas Tech, she’s enrolled in PhD major, Land Use Planning, Management and Design (Track: Environmental / Natural Resource Management & Planning) and Graduate Certificate course in Geographic Information Science and Technology. Nwasinachi is also a Research Assistant to Dr. Patricia Solis on the YouthMappers Program.


Gokhale, V. (2008, October). Role of women in disaster management: An analytical study with reference to Indian society. In The 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering October (pp. 12-17)

Nabriye A (2017) Our latest statistics on crowd2map ( by July 2017″Thank you all the mappers!

Oxfam International (2005). The Tsunami’s Impact on Women, P. 4. Available from

Pinder, M., Jawara, M., Jarju, L. B., Salami, K., Jeffries, D., Adiamoh, M., ... & Conway, D. J. (2015). Efficacy of indoor residual spraying with dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane against malaria in Gambian communities with high usage of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 385(9976), 1436-1446.

United Nations, 2015. The World's Women 2015: Trends and Statistics. New York: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division. Sales No. E.15.XVII.8

WHO (2008). World Health Organization, Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An interagency statement, WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIFEM, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNECA, UNESCO, UNDP, UNAIDS, WHO, Geneva, 2008, p. 4.

WHO (2017). Gender, Equity and human rights: Gender and Disaster. WHO regional office for south East Asia.

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