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  • Letwin Pondo- 2023 YouthMappers Leadership Fellow- Midlands State University

Mapping for a Sustainable World: Zimbabwe YouthMappers Shining the Movement

It was a great honor organizing the MAPPING FOR A SUSTAINABLE WORLD WORKSHOP in Zimbabwe together with Dr. Prestige Tatenda Makanga, Dr. Robert Roth, and Dr. Britta Ricker ahead of the International Cartographic Association Conference 2023. The greatest joy was bringing together stakeholders from various industries, disciplines, and institutions and getting them equipped to be cartographers using QGIS. Among these, it was a pleasure bringing together YouthMappers from various institutions to participate in this amazing workshop and have them share their individual experiences:


I am very grateful for the cartographic training skills I received using QGIS software. With the knowledge acquired, I am now able to contribute accurate geospatial information on any sustainable development goals or challenges affecting my society and my country at large. With interactive maps, I will generate interest in my work with relevant stakeholders. I am grateful for the spark generated as well as for opening my mind to venture into the cartographic field. I try to use the best of my ability to exploit opportunities as well as further my knowledge of cartography. I owe all my success to the facilitators.


First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the team that hosted the Mapping for a Sustainable World workshop. It was quite an enriching experience where I got to enhance my mapping skills as a member of the YouthMappers network. At the workshop, I got to learn a lot of other things, like how we can create various thematic maps with the same datasets. I also learned how we can obtain different datasets from various open sources available on the internet. Making a map with proportional circles was my favorite part. I got to see how we can manipulate and work around certain functions to come up with beautiful maps that are very informative and, to some extent, interactive. Another great part of the workshop was getting to meet other YouthMappers from other parts of the country. I got to know more areas where maps are being used to represent data, like the medical field. I got to mingle with professionals who have been in the mapping field for quite some time and grasp knowledge from them. Lastly, my experience at the workshop was really exciting. I got to do a little demonstration of a 360-degree GoPro camera on how it works and how it is used in modern-day mapping. Special thanks to Tatenda, Letwin, Robert, and Britta, who gave us a chance to learn, acquire, and enhance new mapping skills.



My name is Nyasha Shuro, a final-year student at Harare Polytechnic studying a National Diploma in Cartography and Geovisualization Technology, class of 2023.

I would like to share my experience from a two-day Mapping for a Sustainable World workshop I attended in Harare up to the 9th of August 2023. This was indeed a profound experience where I was immensely equipped with a better understanding of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to map those using QGIS, a GIS software. The most exciting experience was rubbing shoulders and sharing ideas with other experts in my area of specialty, mixing, mingling, and mapping together with other young mappers with the help of tutorials by Prof. Robert Roth, Dr. Britta Ricker, and our workshop organizers, Ms. Letwin Pondo and Tatenda Makanga. I also learned with much zeal about the 231 SDG indicators presently available to monitor progress in efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. With the use of those indicators, as cartographers, we can spatially represent the progress in meeting the SDGs in the form of maps and graphs. Most importantly, I gained a lot of experience in data joining, statistical mapping, projection change, map symbolization, and various map projections available for world and continental mapping. I look forward to implementing my experience from the Mapping for a Sustainable World Workshop in GIS problem solving and attending more GIS workshops across the globe.

Thank you.

MARTIN CHIRINDA , UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE (Medical Informatics and Analytics)

I am so grateful to have attended this training workshop on mapping for a sustainable world. It was an enriching experience that unraveled the fascinating world of maps. This event was nothing short of fascinating. During the sessions, we were guided through various hands-on activities, delved into spatial data visualization, and learned innovative techniques to create captivating maps that tell compelling stories and address global challenges. One of the highlights of the workshop was the opportunity to collaborate with passionate experts and other young mappers from different backgrounds and disciplines. Beyond the technical aspects, the workshop fueled my curiosity and ignited a new level of passion for the art of cartography. As a student specializing in medical informatics and analytics, I was particularly excited about the potential of mapping data to make a positive impact in the healthcare sector. I look forward to implementing these newfound skills and creating impactful visual representations. I'm excited about what lies ahead on my cartographic journey!


Mapping for a Sustainable World was that one workshop that ended, leaving me with an urge to continue creating more and more maps. All thanks go to the organizers, Letwin Pondo (Midlands State University) and Dr. Prestige Makanga (CeSSHAR Zimbabwe).

One thing I loved about the workshop was being taught the practical way of making maps by the authors of the book Mapping for a Sustainable World, Dr. Britta Ricker and Dr. Robert Roth. I walked away from the workshop with a cartographer's confidence because I was holding a certificate alongside a map I had made on my own using QGIS and SDG data.

I will admit that not only did I learn the art and science of map making, but I also networked, met with other YouthMappers around Zimbabwe, met with GIS and cartography enthusiasts, and had fun. I look forward to more workshops that bring YouthMappers together and help us create memorable moments through mapping for sustainability and mapping for a better tomorrow.

Constantine Dhliwayo, BULAWAYO POLYTECHNIC

My name is Constantine Dhliwayo. I am from Bulawayo Polytechnic and am doing surveying and geomatics. I had the opportunity to attend a hands-on workshop on mapping for a sustainable world, which was held in Harare. I learned about the basics of QGIS, including how to create maps, analyze data, and perform spatial analysis. I expect to be able to receive guidance from the workshop leaders so that I can improve my skills and deepen my understanding.


As a young mapper attending the workshop, I had an incredibly enriching experience that left me inspired and excited about the future. The workshop provided a platform for us to connect with fellow young representatives from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration. I particularly enjoyed the interactive sessions, where we learned about cutting-edge mapping technologies and techniques. It was my first time using QGIS. It was fascinating to witness the power of mapping in addressing real-world challenges and making a positive impact on communities. The workshop also offered valuable mentorship opportunities, allowing us to learn from experts in the field and gain insights into their experiences. The knowledge and skills I acquired during the workshop empowered me to contribute meaningfully to mapping projects and developing innovative solutions. I am eagerly looking forward to applying these new-found skills in my community and making a difference through mapping. Overall, the workshop was an unforgettable journey of laughter, learning, and friendship, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.


As a cartographer, the utmost importance in the field of geography is map-making. The science and art of creating maps that accurately represent the physical and cultural features of the earth’s surface A few days ago, in the month of August, I attended the 2023 workshop hosted by the International Cartographic Association in Harare at Cresta Lodge, where we learned more about mapping and how to use software like QGIS to create maps of Africa showing populations that are suffering from HIV and AIDS. We also came across quiz questions where we discussed the importance of mapping in the world, and these are as follows: Maps are important in the sense that they can show the distribution of a certain phenomenon, for instance, Cyclone Idai or Cyclone Fred, just to mention a few. Maps are also used in the football industry, where players wear vests that collect information on where they run, pass, and tackle, and these are called heat maps. We also interact with different people from different institutions and share experiences and knowledge in terms of a sustainable world. In short, I decode the stories that geographical coordinates carry and share them with the world (GIS).

The workshop was a huge success and created the kind of atmosphere Zimbabwean YouthMappers needed to network, get mentorship, interact with various industry experts, above all learning about the contents of a Book (Mapping for a Sustainable World) direct from the Book Authors (Dr Britta Ricker and Dr Robert Roth). Some of the topics the workshop covered are:

  1. SDGs and Spatial Data

  2. Data Joining

  3. Statistical Mapping

  4. Our first choropleth map (hands on)

  5. The Power of maps

  6. Map symbolization

  7. Exploring thematic maps

  8. Designing the user experience

  9. Bringing it all together

  10. Polishing your maps

As impactful and educative as it was, we look forward to more similar events and spreading the open source and YouthMappers gospel to all of Zimbabwe and beyond the borders. Special thanks to the International Cartographic Association for sponsoring the workshop. Grab your copy of the book here

Compiled by: Letwin Pondo


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