Three hundred Urban Planning and Geomatics students from Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam are participating in a community mapping project in July and August. We will be mapping in 35 wards of the city, with an emphasis on the data needed to improve flood resilience.With the increasing impact of climate change and urbanization, urban flooding increasingly disrupts and threatens the lives of people in Dar es Salaam. To support people in the city, we are mapping drainage, health care services (important to reduce illness and mortality when flooding does happen, particularly for children), toilets, water sources, and building infrastructure.

We will also be working to better understand where flooding has happened in the past and where it may happen in the future based on the knowledge of people in the neighbourhoods, as well as measurements of elevation, drainage modelling, and so forth.

Training three hundred students in community mapping is a huge challenge and an opportunity! Just to organize such a large cohort is a complex logistical exercise. We must ensure that the students learn valuable skills, produce high-quality data, and work effectively with local neighbourhood communities. Fortunately we have a team including ten of the former students from previous Ramani Huria community mapping projects that have graduated and gone on to be leaders; they will be instrumental in guiding the new students through their learning and mapping process.
Students learning about Ramani Huria, and their role in the project at the UDSM CoICT campus/dLab

As always, the data gathered by Ramani Huria belongs to the people of Dar es Salaam. It is open data, accessible to everyone on the OpenStreetMap platform. Not only is it used for flood management planning, improvements to health care, drainage, and other infrastructure, but people can use this in free, offline maps on their smartphones that do not require Internet data and local businesses can use it to improve customer services. A high-quality map, freely available and filled with locally-useful data, helps almost everyone, and especially so if it belongs to the people themselves!

If you are in Dar es Salaam in the next few months, expect to see our intrepid teams throughout the city gather the essential data that makes the city a better, stronger, more resilient place. And keep an eye on the map!