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  • Tafadzwa Bere, University of Zimbabwe

UZMappers team: I map, I save, Cyclone Idai Mapathon

As the chapter was recently introduced to the rest of the College at the University of Zimbabwe, it is sad that the eastern part of the country fell tragedy to the tropical cyclone Idai, which was named in Shona meaning "Love". The trail of the cyclone clearly showed no love as it ravaged through Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. UZMappers, the official YouthMappers chapter at the University of Zimbabwe, took the initiative to organize a mapathon 20-22 March 2019 to map the pre-cyclone status of building from the satellite imagery using OpenStreetMap. This mapathon started with 34 active members and went on to be completed in shifts of 10-15 students per mapping session to complete the tasks created by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

Figure 1: Chapter Members at the University of Zimbabwe

The turnout for the Cyclone Idai mapathon was high as it was mainly localized, hence only students who were chapter mappers took part. Each mapping session started with a brief, training and recapping on the main objectives of the mapping session were and then full engagement into the mapping.

UZMappers made an amazing 4000+ edits to the cyclone Idai projects.This included building, roads, paths, river and other waterways over the course of three days.

As a chapter, we decided that only those who had validation privileges, as stated by the MSF project task description, were eligible to validate some of the tasks mapped. Therefore, this resulted in the directorate mainly being validators of the projects.

Figure 2 UZMappers

Figure 3,4: (Left) Director Let Girls Map Mabel Katso, (Right) UZMappers chapter President Tafadzwa Bere

Pre- cyclone mapping aided those who were on the ground in finding the exact numbers of building that were affected and measuring the intensity of effect. This therefore went on to the extent that aid organizations could identify alternative routes to access to those areas which were most affected. All three days were a success and if resources permit, we hope to increase the amount of open spatial data creation by engaging in more mapathons, and using some other tools for data collection in the field.

Figure 4: UZMappers Directorate Validating some Tasks.

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