2023 RECAP

OpenMap Development Tanzania
8 min readApr 30, 2024

Written by Aisha Hamisi

As we all know, 2023 has ended, and we are in the 4th month of 2024. It’s time to reflect on the incredible journey of OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) last year. 2023 was a year filled with impactful projects, community-building and growth activities, local and international conferences, and exciting milestones paving the way to an even brighter future. Let’s rewind and highlight some of the things that happened in 2023. Buckle up! This is going to be a long ride.

We started strong in January by organizing and hosting State of the Map Tanzania, a conference for OpenStreetMap enthusiasts from Tanzania and beyond to share experiences and expertise on how to use OpenStreetMap to solve local problems, build skills, and develop the digital economy. The event took place from January 20th to January 22nd, 2023 and it was held at COSTECH and COICT grounds. We learned, socialized, ate, drank, and laughed all in the name of OpenStreetMap. Did you attend SOTM Tanzania? How was it? Did you enjoy it? Please leave a comment below about your personal experience. If you didn’t attend it, we hope to organize the next SOTM Tanzania in 2025, don’t plan to miss it…

For more info, follow SOTM Tanzania on X (formally Twitter): SOTM Tanzania Twitter or view and follow a digital album at Flicker SOTM Tanzania

State of the Map group photo

In February, we re-joined forces with the World Food Program (WFP) Tanzania country office to collect data on school feeding programs in 19,769 pre- and primary public schools in Tanzania. The nationwide school census and mapping of school feeding programs are part of WFP Tanzania’s efforts to support the government of Tanzania in undertaking evidence-based decision-making to improve school feeding in pre- and primary public schools in the country. This program provided an opportunity for 540 community mappers from across the country to learn about data collection methods and technologies by using tools such as Open Data Kit (ODK), Organic Maps, and ODK Central for data storage and management. We had previously worked with WFP Tanzania in 2022 to map over 33,721 mills across 31 regions in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar over the course of 3 months, read the report here.

Group photo of the trained mappers a few days before going on the field

In March, we visited the YOCO orphanage at Malamba Mawili to commemorate International Women’s Day, spreading love and joy at an orphanage center by creating unforgettable memories with fun games, drone demos, and more. We let them fly drones, experiment with science, learn about GIS and they show us their talents with songs and drum beats. This was done to demonstrate to these amazing children that they are not alone and can pursue any career as they grow older. What can we say, we love sharing knowledge with the community.

Kids from YOCO orphanage enjoying a Buzzer wire game

April going to May, OMDTZ worked with Collecte Localization Satellites (CLS) to conduct ground truth data for the classification of crop types and the provision of unbiased crop area estimates and the validation of the crop type maps and crop mask in Manyara, Tanga, Dodoma, Mbeya, Ruvuma and Njombe. The data collected is crucial for creating high-resolution maps that will improve crop yield forecasting and inform decisions on food security and agricultural support. The project is part of a larger initiative to provide open information on global crop conditions.

Crops mapping in Haydom- Manyara

In June, we hosted a hybrid mapathon, a coordinated mapping event that provides an opportunity for volunteers to digitally connect and create urgently needed data for communities around the world. This mapathon was dedicated in honor of World Environmental Day and to make this event delightful, we collaborated with YouthMappers, Nipe Fagio, Tanzania Data Lab (dLab), and Open Mapping Hub — Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA Hub) with the theme “Mapping for Sustainable Solid Waste Management” to #BeatPlasticPollution. All the partners got an opportunity to present the work they do and hey! We managed to map Dodoma in and out. What a way to celebrate this special day. If you want to know what we did, read the blog here.

A photo from a Mapathon

To equip our staff with GIS knowledge and improve aerial data analysis skills, we provided in-house Drone and GIS training until early July. Additionally, we also collaborated with SheFound on their DarSlushD event, a platform for Tanzanian students and youths, who are the future, to learn, network, be exposed, experiment, and grow in the local and global StartUp ecosystems. The event allowed early-stage founders and students to explore business and tech opportunities.

OMDTZ staff at the Masjid Quba Kijitonyama grounds flying drones as part of the in-house training

During August, we wrapped up the Meta Road Import Project, a four-and-a-half-year partnership with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) that aimed at incorporating AI into open mapping. OMDTZ imported and mapped roads and buildings in Tanzania to OpenStreetMap (OSM) by using MapwithAI, a JOSM plugin. The team consisted of 31 mappers who worked remotely to perform quality checks and provide technical support. This project resulted in publishing over 43 mapping tasks, adding over 662,000 kilometers of roads and 643,000 buildings to OSM.

Additionally, OpenStreetMap (OSM), a free map of the world, was founded on August 22, 2006, and as part of the community, we celebrated the 19th birthday since OSM was established. We started by contributing data to the OSM database by mapping solid waste management in Dodoma, and then we cut, ate a cake🎂 and had fun on behalf of all the OSM communities across the world.

Is it cake?……..Yes, it is

Also, we commemorated International Youth Day, by having a GIS and Drone operation workshop with Alpha School students. They experienced GIS training and insights and a hands-on drone ✈️flying demos, it was a memorable experience for the students and another day of OMDTZ youth empowerment.

Alpha students during the workshop

In September we teamed up again with YouthMappers Tanzania, Association of Geographers and Environmental Managers — Agem-Udsm and Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) for a hybrid mapathon to promote awareness and emphasize the significance of urban greening for environmental protection and safeguarding the ozone layer. To commemorate International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, we had a training, mapping challenge, a game quiz, and worked with the HOT tasking manager to add data to OpenStreetMap by using iD editor for beginners and JOSM editor for advanced mappers. #ozoneday

Group photo after the Mapathon

In October, we finalized the Open Skies Fellowship Program (OSF), a long-running project that was launched in 2021, and trained and mentored 47 young people (under 25) across Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Funded by Fondation Botnar, the program aimed to equip youth with problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills through workshops and mentorship. Despite COVID-19 and regional difference challenges, the program successfully partnered with local hubs and delivered positive outcomes for these young innovators.

November was a whirlwind of conferences for the OMDTZ team! We were proud to represent Tanzania and share our mapping passion at three major events:

GIS Day 2023 (Dar es Salaam): We celebrated GIS Day alongside fellow mappers in Dar es Salaam. These conferences aren’t just about presentations, though. They’re valuable spaces for us to connect with colleagues, exchange knowledge, and learn from each other’s experiences. Seeing the vibrant geospatial community here in Tanzania and across Africa is inspiring!

Data Tamasha 2023 Conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: with a theme “Data for Human Centered Digital Future“, this local event focused on the power of data to drive positive change in our communities. We were excited to contribute to the conversation and share how geospatial data can be harnessed for local good.

Pictures from Data Tamasha 2023

State of the Map Africa 2023 in Yaounde, Cameroon: with the theme “Open Mapping as a Support Tool for Local Development in Africa”, this conference brought together open mapping enthusiasts from across and outside the African continent. It was an incredible opportunity to showcase the work we do to a wide audience of African nations and get an opportunity to learn from others as well. There were different discussions and talks including Innovative Approaches to Solid Waste Management, The Role of AI-Assisted Mapping and Local Validation in Field Mapping, and others

“This was my first time in Central Africa, and it was incredible! I met people from different cultures and countries around the world. Language presents a bit of a challenge, as French was the primary language, but we found ways to communicate effectively. It was a fantastic learning experience in teamwork. I had the opportunity to explain our organization at a booth we set up, and I poured my heart into it — I truly enjoyed it! Being the only girl from OMDTZ filled me with pride. Of course, presenting in front of such a diverse audience initially made me nervous, but I delivered the presentation and ensured everyone understood. This has been the most enriching experience of my career so far. It inspired me to apply for upcoming similar opportunities, to keep expanding my horizons. I also want to encourage others to apply without hesitation — the rewards far outweigh any initial anxieties.”

Zaina Rashidi a Data Quality Assurance Officer

A collage of the SoTM Africa 2023 conferences

We celebrated the OMDTZ anniversary in December, and 2023 was our 6th anniversary. Additionally, the whole team took a holiday break to celebrate Christmas and New Year with families and loved ones. A lot is planned for 2024, with many milestones to achieve and experiences to share. This year, we began by moving the office from Mikocheni to Goba Hills but that is a story for another blog. Hope you enjoyed this one. Follow our social media for more updates on what we are up to:LinkedIn , X(Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook .

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OpenMap Development Tanzania

Open-source tech & geodata for managing & solving community's socio-economic and humanitarian challenges