Have you ever thought of contributing to your community through mapping? I had this thought after working as a Resilience Academy Internship coordinator under the Tanzanian Urban Resilience Program (TURP). My name is Raya Idrissa Ahmada, an assistant lecturer at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), and I will be sharing my journey towards Open Source GIS.
2019 Resilience Academy Group Photo
I was very fortunate to be selected to work with students in the Resilience Academy as an Internship Coordinator in 2018. The Resilience Academy aims to equip young people with the tools, knowledge, and skills to address the world’s most pressing urban challenges and ensure resilient urban development. Through partnering with universities, about 50 students were selected from each of the participating universities and were trained for 8 Industrial Training periods. In addition to this, there was a Data Visualization Challenge within the Resilience Academy Program, which exposed the students to the use of open source software to create meaningful stories from already existing datasets and the role that open data plays in addressing local community challenges efficiently.
After completing the internship, I was motivated to continue contributing to my community through this avenue. In November of the same year, I successfully organised the Resilience Academy Interns and managed to mentor and support the creation of a YouthMappers chapter at SUZA under the guidance of YouthMappers Regional Ambassador, Ms. Ingrid Kintu. You might wonder what exactly YouthMappers is. We are a consortium of young leaders aiming at nourishing the next generation of leaders to address issues sustainably through mapping our world.
Khamis Juma Madai Resilience Academy 2020 Intern and current SUZA YouthMappers President participating in Data Collection at Nungwi, Tanzania
Our first phase was to create awareness and motivate students to join the initiative. New members were given training on how to use open source software to contribute to open data creation on the OSM platform. Amidst challenges with motivating students to participate and limited access to the internet and computers, the students were able to successfully conduct mapathons and remain active in the chapter.
I still found myself obligated to help the students gain these important skills and widen their knowledge. I found out that the students’ most pressing challenge was the support and funds for them to be able to conduct the mapping activities. This prompted my application for the YouthMappers Regional Ambassadorial role, for which I was successful.
Students selected to pitch their ideas in the final competition for the Data Visualization Challenge and Ms. Raya Ahmada, SUZA Data Visualization Challenge Mentor
Today, I utilize my roles as a Resilience Academy Internship coordinator, a YouthMappers and Data Visualization mentor as well as a Regional Ambassador to guide students and mentor them in utilizing the skills they have gained both professionally and as a way to give back to the community through problem solving and understanding local challenges.
Under the YouthMappers initiative, one of my roles is to motivate more girls to map. In light of this, the SUZA YouthMappers chapter will soon launch a cascade of mapping activities to contribute to initiatives aimed at helping women and girls solve existing problems in their communities.