Accessibility & Translation

Saving young women in rural Tanzania through maps

Kerry Vandersteen, Digital Education Coordinator at City & Islington College, recently hosted a Mapathon for a group of volunteer college students and staff to help to map areas in rural Tanzania, where girls who are at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) need to get to a safe house.

Tanzania is roughly the same size as France and Germany combined and there are few accurate maps of its rural areas.

Janet Chapman, the project manager from Tanzania Development Trust explained: “In many cases, a girl is told she will be cut that evening or the next day, and she contacts local activists for help. To get the girl to a safe house, the local activists need to know where her village is and for that they need accurate maps.”

Almost all of Tanzania (an area roughly the same size as the whole of France and Germany combined) is rural and there are few accurate maps of rural areas. In response to this, Crowd2Map Tanzania is putting Rural Tanzania on the map. Since 2015, this volunteer programme has been adding schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and villages to OpenStreetMap, an open source map available to all.

As Janet Chapman explains: “These maps are crucial to government and humanitarian teams. Crowd2Map Tanzania are now asking people from across the world to help create maps of unmapped, rural areas so that activists can better protect girls who are at risk of FGM.”

The Mapathon helped map previously unmapped areas in rural Tanzania using OpenStreetMap. During the Mapathon, volunteers looked at satellite photos and effectively created a map of that area, by tracing the roads and buildings that they could see in zoomed-in satellite images.


Queen's Award for Enterprise