The Fourth Tanzanian Annual National Science, Technology and Innovation Conference took place recently in Dar es Salaam from 17th-19th of June. The conference presented the opportunity to showcase Ramani Huria and community mapping in Dar es Salaam to the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete.
Daud Fufuji, Open Data Consultant with the World Bank’s Tanzania Office, presented mapping activities to the President, as well as key officials from the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF). The presentation included detailed maps of the recently completed of Tandale and Ndugumbi wards. In addition to presenting the work achieved by community mapping, Daud Fufuji also explained the opportunities and achievements made by the use of drones in mapping the city.
Daud Fufuji explained that the Ramani Huria community mapping program involves both citizens and university students, working together to create digital maps by using simple and accessible technology, including GPS, field papers, and OpenStreetMap (OSM). All data is then uploaded and can be accessed by any individual with an internet connection. Local citizens possess an understanding of their communities and traditional knowledge, allowing them to highlight where problems arise. With the assistance of students, who contribute their academic knowledge, the maps created can allow citizens to present to stakeholders and services providers, giving them relevant data to take action when needed, for example, becoming more resilient to flooding. The potential of drones to support community mapping was also highlighted, with Daud Fufuji explaining to the President that drones can help greatly in aerial photography. The drones take aerial imagery with a high resolution allowing for the identification and digitization of infrastructure i.e roads, buildings, drainage, rivers and other related spatial features. In addition, once acquired, drones are low cost and safe, they don’t require a pilot and are simple to launch and land. As they run off rechargeable batteries, fuel costs are also reduced.
President Kikwete asked what problems could be seen in the maps presented and it was explained that the maps showed flood-prone areas within the wards. These areas are detrimentally affected by flooding due to poor infrastructure, including issues with drainage, solid waste management, and limited access to houses. Additionally, it was highlighted that this poor infrastructure means children can’t go to school when flooding occurs (due to lack of pathways) and diseases may spread (due to poor waste management).
The President was extremely impressed by the maps created, calling them beautiful, and was positive about the potential of the continued mapping of Dar es Salaam under the Ramani Huria project.