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  • Chomba Chishala, University of Zambia


It has been a great 3 years of being part of the network that contribute to the wellbeing of humanity. I remember 3 years ago a friend of mine called me and follow them at Bogo hive where they were meeting people who are teaching how to map. I was so interested in mapping because in my fourth year I was supposed to learn how to use GIS in my final year research project. I thought if I can learn mapping in 2nd year that will be an advantage for me when I reach in my fourth year. It was from this training that I developed an interest in mapping.

The journey of being a YouthMappers has been one of the greatest things that I has happened to me during my undergraduate studies at The University of Zambia, there is a lot of things that YouthMappers has taught me.

To start with one of the most profound things that YouthMappers want to propagate is youth leadership, for the past three years it has been a turning point and developing point for me in the area of leadership in my life. Being a first present and the founding president of a YouthMappers Unza Chapter (YMUNZA) was not easy but because of the support and direction that I was getting from YouthMappers and my Mentor helped me and my team to make sure the chapter is strong. When I was a leader of my former chapter I had to learn how to communicate with people, how to handle difficult situations, at some time how to share with people more especially in the community of YouthMapper.

The second thing that I have acquired from being a YouthMappers is the skill; the skill of mapping has helped me a lot when I was at the University. This is the skill that is even working for me in every place. I remember one day we went for an academic tour and we almost got lost and everyone in the bus shouted YouthMappers help us and we had to use the skill of knowing how to use maps to find out where about. The skill that I have acquired has helped to know more about GIS and other Open tools that can be used to solve the challenges that are in the community. The skill that I have acquired is essential in the corporate world because most of the organizations are looking for people that have skills that can find a solution to the problem that is there in the community.

YouthMappers has been my hub for most of the knowledge I have about maps and how to make maps. Although still a learner, I can safely say I have been equipped with enough knowledge to immensely contribute to OSM and be a part of the ever growing community of mappers around the world. Mappers that contribute to the efforts of providing maps that are free, maps that have value to make a change in the community which is down by participation of the local people in their creation to ensure that no one else defines what can be emphasized and what can be left out on these maps. I have come to understand the importance of maps in the lives of people. Maps grant access to places one has never been , helps one understand what kind of life a particular area is, what are the needs of the people and how better things can be such as on how to plan for development of the place and how people's lives can be improved.

Networking is one of the things that YouthMappers has helped me to have, it is always a great opportunity to belong to a larger and emerging network and this net is full of young people who are leading innovation and finding solutions to challenges that are there. The most impressive thing about this network is that there is sharing of solution that is working within the community.

YouthMappers is one of the networks that are bringing together young people who are taking a keen interest in volunteerism and humanitarian response. YouthMappers has been a center where young people can come together and help those who are in need, especially those who are facing natural disasters, social and economic problems and as well as helping the community in decision making based on the work that YouthMappers do. It has been an honor to see that the work of YouthMappers is being recognized in the community and believe so much that more Universities in Africa will integrate the work of YouthMappers in there curriculum to give back to the community.

In Zambia for the past four years we have been doing quite a number of things that we have seen that are key to the human need. The community of OpenStreetMap and YouthMappers is still growing and next year 2020 we are going to open up new YouthMappers and a lot of University to be part of the mapping community.

Some of the successful project that YouthMappers and OSMZambia has been working is the mapping pre-urban areas of Lusaka such as Chaisa area which is unplanned area or it can be classified as informal settlement, this area used to have a lot of difficulties of flooding and that usually lead to cholera and other water borne diseases, therefore OSMZambia and YouthMappers Unza had a project to map the whole area in order to generate data that can be used in preparation of flood and how best the problem of flood can be solved. The data that was created was used by stakeholders such as the Local council who are in charge of making sure that this place has good drainage.

Mapping Chinsali Council, Muchinga Province, Zambia

OSM Zambia in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government wanted to carry out geospatial surveys, in order to support Local Authorities to set-up GIS based Land Information Systems. The digitalization and creation of reliable spatial data was therefore the first step. These information was needed in order to make the correct development decisions on the quantum and location of services and facilities by digitizing them.

WASH Assessment and Cholera Mapping

In 2018, WaterAid Zambia (WAZ) undertook a rapid assessment at the start of the Cholera outbreak in communities that are traditionally Cholera hotspots. The assessment indicated challenges in access to water and poor sanitation. WAZ is currently implementing a project on ‘Driving Political Will to end Cholera’. The project aims to increase and actualise political and financial commitment to implement and sustain approaches to eliminate Cholera in Zambia

Mapping Community Schools

We were celebrating the OSM Geoweek by mapping community schools. The data will be used by community members and the organizations working in the education sector. The mapping of community schools will continue in 2020. It is hopefully that the dad that will be generated in this project will help those schools and upscale the standards of these schools.

Chomba Chishala is a former President for YouthMappers University of Zambia Chapter (YMUNZA), former chair person for an Environmental Network called Umodzi at the University of Zambia. He is a YouthMapper Research fellow. Chomba Chishala is a purposeful and goal driven, empathetic, creative, hardworking and honest person with great social skills and communication skills. His dream is to lead people; more especially the Youths who have power and energy to change the world. At the moment he is a YouthMappers Regional Ambassador. He desires to see more youths to take keen interest in what is happening in their community and voice out their opinions through mapping.

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