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  • Sabina Abuga, University of Cape Coast

Unforgettable Experience with YouthMappers in 2019

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

YouthMappers is an international consortium of university students mapping clubs, with local chapters in universities of various countries. Members of this organisation capitalize on the web-based open geospatial technologies such as OpenStreetMap to create more resilient communities by mapping it.

A representation on GIS Day on our experience in South Africa as 2019 Leadership fellow

YouthMappers, attesting to the fact that their organisation seeks to build mappers not just maps, selected competitively 20 students from 15 different countries across the globe. I was selected to attend this second cohort leadership fellowship programme. We all met in Pretoria, South Africa on the 5th of January 2019 for the leadership conference. It was my first international travel; I was so excited. YouthMappers' leadership fellowship conference was an enlightening and memorable experience in South Africa. Coming from different parts of the world and meeting with the purpose of achieving one common goal - which is to build a resilient community through mapping. This opportunity gave me a chance to meet and learn new and innovative ideas to help me solve the world's challenges from our mentors, co-founders and colleagues from different parts of the world. We had the opportunity to visit beautiful places in South Africa such as The Cradle of Humankind and Sterkfontein Caves at Maropeng, Alaska in Mamelodi and their traditional market.

2019 Leadership fellows with the YouthMappers staff exploring the world together-South Africa

In February, I had another opportunity to work with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture on how to incorporate the use of open geospatial data in assessing the Africa RISING project. The team and I travelled to the northern part of the country where the project was implemented to make use of geospatial data techniques such as the OSM Tracker. We took perimeter of farmer’s farm size and later downloaded the data into the OpenStreetMap software and mapped it using JOSM Editor.

Youthmappers with IITA staff at IITA country office in Tamale

In June, I and some other mappers from University of Ghana attended a conference organised by BRECcIA (Building Research Capacity for Sustainable Water and Food Security in Drylands of Sub-Saharan Africa) in Bolgatanga. We learned participatory research tools and the value of engaging with local land users; we observed and discussed drivers of land cover, land use changes and concepts of land degradation, tree tenure, and land restoration.

Youthmappers with the staff of BRECcIA and Stakeholders in natural resource management

In September, I had another opportunity to attend the Software Freedom day conference in Accra where a lot was shared by various stakeholders about open-source software. A lawyer enlightened us on some legalities pertaining to the use of free and open data software. We had the opportunity to exchange knowledge with Wikipedia group – Ghana.

UCC Youthmappers with Linux group Ghana at Software Freedom Day 2019

To crown it all, in November, I was granted a scholarship to attend State of Map Africa 2019 in Abidjan and Grand Bassam at Cote d’Ivoire. This was a memorable experience because the lessons learnt were so amazing and it was great fun. I attended State of the Map Africa 2019, which created the timely networking grounds for me to interact with other vibrant and talented young people of Africa- trying so hard each day to transform Africa through mapping. The various presentations made it obvious that the challenges of each African country were not really different from the others.

The transformers of Africa through mapping at State of map Africa 2019

I would like to use this medium to call more people to join this great community that does not only build maps but mappers. You do not really need any special skills before joining our community but for more information you can visit our website I would like to express my profound gratitude to the leaders of YouthMappers, the OpenStreetMap community, and all other sponsors who contributed to making the year a memorable one.

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