KATHMANDU, NEPAL; WASHINGTON, DC — More than ten million changes have been made recently to the world’s free, editable public map, OpenStreetMap, by YouthMappers, a network of university students who have united to create and use open spatial data to directly address development challenges in the most impoverished countries on the planet. Twenty (20) of those students from 15 universities in 11 countries have been selected as Leadership Fellows, to participate in a workshop and community building event in Kathmandu, Nepal this May.
Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in any field at an institution of higher education that has a YouthMappers chapter were invited to apply to become a Leadership Fellow. The fellows were chosen on the basis of demonstrated leadership potential, technical abilities in open mapping, and good communication skills. Students will meet to address themes of youth leadership, open mapping techniques, data visualization, science communication, disaster risk mitigation, inclusive community participation, organizational capacity building, and/or international partnership.
At the workshop, the YouthMappers program will provide capacity training in open mapping techniques to help enrich local chapter activities as well as connectivity across the network of chapters. Fellows will also receive professional development, have access to mentoring by international experts and engage in community building with the other participants.
The Leadership Fellowship workshop will be hosted by Kathmandu Living Labs in Nepal, and include instructors and experts from KLL as well as the USAID GeoCenter, Texas Tech University, George Washington University, and West Virginia University, founding partners of YouthMappers.
YouthMappers emphasizes the creation and utilization of open data and open source software for geographic information directly related to development objectives in unmapped places of the world where the US Agency for Internaitonal Development (USAID) works to end extreme poverty.
Ebenezer Nana Kwaku Boateng, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Frederik Abraham Johannes Erwee, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Nubia Guissell Estrada Soza, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Nicaragua
Saurav Gautam, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
Alexandra Guttentag, New York University, USA
Rhoda Haruna, Ahmadu Bellow University, Zaria, Nigeria
Md. Manjurul Islam, Dhaka College, Bangladesh
Elijah Karanja Kingori, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Kenya
Julia Kleine, Texas Tech University, USA
Bert Nii Odoi Manieson, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Zola Mervis Manyungwa, University of Malawi
Maliha Binte Mohiuddin, Dhaka University, Bangladesh in Bangladesh
Stella Maris Nakacwa, Makerere University, Uganda
Benedict Tetteh Kojo Nartey, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Temidayo Isaiah Oniosun, Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria
Mumtarin Aishee Rabeya, Asian University For Women in Bangladesh
Yasmila Stephany Saenz Herrera, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, Nicaragua
Faridah Nakabugo Sekitoleko, Makerere University, Uganda
Yusuf Suleiman, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria
Dendup Tshering, Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan
Projects have contributed to improving food security, health and malaria prevention , and disaster preparation and assistance in the wake of events such as the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, where the maps were immediately put to use by the humanitarian and relief agencies to assist victims of natural disaster.
All new data created by YouthMappers is open and accessible to the public using the OpenStreetMap platform and tools to ensure it is freely available for the greater public good, particularly local populations planning for the welfare and vitality of their own communities.
The YouthMappers network of chapters organizes a global community of learners and scholars to work locally and exchange collaboratively to help create resilient communities. The program seeks to not just build maps, but to build mappers, supporting universities and colleges to offer meaningful global learning experiences, build a socially engaged citizenry, enhance long-term scientific capacity around the world, and foster youth exchange and leadership.
The United States Agency for International Development generously supports this program through a grant from the US Global Development Lab’s GeoCenter. To date, 62 universities in 20 countries have formed student-led chapters in the network.
This initiative was formally launched November 2015 on Capitol Hill as part of the US national Geography Awareness Week, and the network was inaugurated in February of 2016. New chapters of students are still being formed and are welcomed to join the network.