Mapping for Sustainable Solid Waste Management Mapathon

OpenMap Development Tanzania
6 min readJun 21, 2023


By Neema Alphonce and Samuel Kyando

Today, our planet is being inundated by plastics, and a big percentage ends in our water bodies while the rest clogs our landfills, according to United nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean, that being the case it recommended that the world to apply the three R’s i.e reducing, reusing and redesigning the way we produce and consume plastics as a way forward to #BeatPlasticPollution and protect nature,

A group photo after the Mapathon

To achieve this, Openmap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ), Tanzania Data Lab (dlab), UNDP Accelerator Labs, Youthmappers, Nipe Fagio, and Open Mapping Hub Eastern and Southern Africa teamed up on June 6, 2023, to celebrate and add building and road data to OpensStreetmap to support informed decisions for combating plastic problems.

The mapping focused on Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, where the present growth rate is rapidly increasing due to the government relocating all administration offices to Dodoma. The event featured presentations and use cases from various stakeholders who had previously implemented innovative solid waste management initiatives; these provided participants with visual examples of how platforms like Openstreetmap and geospatial data might aid in addressing environmental challenges.

The main objective of the mapathon was to get experience from Openmap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) partners who have collaboratively worked together to implement most of the environmental challenges using openstreetmap data, as well as introduce new mappers to openstreetmap platforms through collaborative remote mapping of buildings and roads in Dodoma region using online, free update online satellite imagery with students from different universities across Dar es Salaam region and other interested individuals

A screenshot of tasking manager project

OMDTZ celebrated the climax of World Environment Day by engaging more mapping on the ground to raise awareness about the #BeatPlasticPollution theme as well as hearing from other stakeholders on how they have helped to combat the problem.

Mr. Omary Bakari, giving opening remarks: Photo by Iddi chazua

The Mapathon started with the opening remarks from Mr. Omary Bakari, a co-founder of Dlab Tanzania. Various stakeholders, including representatives from UNDP Accelerator Lab, Open Mapping Hub Eastern and Southern Africa, Nipe Fagio, and YouthMappers, had the opportunity to attend the event both in person and virtually. During the event, these stakeholders shared insights with the participants regarding the progress made in waste management through the utilization of geospatial technologies. Also, representatives from the Association of Geographers and Environmental Managers (AGEM) from the University of Dar es Salaam, Flying Labs, and some local organizations and companies such as Buyuni Bees and Steve Geomapper attended the event. Additionally, students from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Ardhi University (ARU), Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA), Institute of Finance and Management (IFM), College of Business Education (CBE), and other institutions participated.

The event was a success; we had many new mappers who, for the first time, managed to add their first point. In general, participants successfully mapped key infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, in selected areas around the Dodoma region using OpenStreetMap. As a result, 2529 buildings and 18 km of roads, making a total of 2867 OSM edits and 298 changesets, were mapped and updated in OpenStreetMap. These outputs will serve the sustainable solid waste management strategy of Dodoma by providing enhanced baseline data.

All participants expressed high satisfaction with the mapathon, and about 90% of them reported that they were able to do mapping and were ready to keep up the spirit of improving OSM data.

“Tracking data related to solid waste management is one of the keys to ensuring meaningful engagement of various stakeholders toward climate justice and environmental protection. So I’m very delighted to be one of the participants in the World Environment Day Mapathon, which supports progress towards SDGs with open mapping” Neema Mgeni, DUCE YouthMappers president

Key Takeaways from Our Partners

  1. YouthMappers regional ambassador Erick Tamba gave great insight into how to be part of the YouthMappers initiatives. Also, he shared about one of their chapters in Morogoro: SMCoSE YouthMappers have successfully mapped solid waste (plastics) and siltation levels in the storm drainages in 13 wards of Morogoro Urban in 2021 through the Community Impact Microgrant Program under OMDTZ, funded by HOT. The aim of the data collection was to help local authorities plan cleanup events in a more strategic way depending on the location and concentration of plastics and siltation.

“As a YouthMappers regional ambassador, I take great pride in seeing a network of team players among youth who are focused on finding solutions for their communities. The mapathon was a great platform for YouthMappers to learn and share experiences with stakeholders towards beating plastic pollution” Erick Tamba, Youthmappers regional ambassador, Tanzania

2. UNDP Accelerator Lab presenter Ms. Tabea Mbughuni shared their experience on how the lab partnered with OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) in 2021 to run a virtual mapathon with community-based information to map piles of waste, services provided, payment, readiness to pay, and communities’ perceptions regarding the services provided in Buhongwa ward. The information used to create the live dashboard which used to inform the Solid waste management Decision

Moreover, Ms. Tabea also shared the work on which the lab collaborated with OMDTZ and Suza youth mappers in Zanzibar, where mobile phones were used in collecting geospatial information regarding solid waste and identifying waste piles and types of prevailing waste. The data is then shared on the platform to make sure it is easy to use and accessible for decision-makers and environmental stakeholders. See the blog for more info

Stakeholders giving presentations about their works

3. David Luswata, a Regional Partnerships Manager, and Wilson Munyaradzi, a Disaster Service Manager for the Open Mapping Hub — Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA Hub) at Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, shared how the ESA Hub works with organizations and communities across 23 countries in creating and updating free, editable, and shareable open map data in OpenStreetMap for disaster preparedness and response through partnership, mapping, capacity development, and technical support. Also, they shared information about the Spatial People Network, a regional online community of open mapping and data enthusiasts.

4. And finally, a delightful talk from Nipe Fagio, where Mr. Masaki gave great insight on how they conduct mapping and analysis of illegal dumpsites and litter distribution for effective solid waste management in Tanzania. Nipe Fagio has pioneered socially inclusive waste management practices that have benefited marginalized communities. They conducted litter surveys and mapping to identify areas affected by poor waste management. The purpose of dumpsite mapping is to collect reliable data for solid waste management plans, initiatives, and policy advocacy. This data aims to raise public awareness and support the improvement of solid waste management in urban areas. Mr. Masaki highlighted the identification of over 80 illegal dumpsites in Ilala Municipal.

a map shows the status of buildings and roads before and after the mapathon

In order to ensure the thorough completion of the project, our focus is on engaging participants and other passionate mappers via social media to continue their efforts in mapping the projects. Additionally, we have organized an internal mapping challenge for the OMDTZ staff with the objective of completing the mapping and validation process.



OpenMap Development Tanzania

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