Ownership of Community-Reported Problems in Tandale

The Sokoni Sub-Ward Officer (right) and Community Members

Within the project we have effectively split into two groups along the lines of students and community members. The students are effectively bug hunting, filling in missed tracks and POIs. The community members are focusing on the submission of data into the Ushahidi instance, http://tandale.ramanitanzania.org/ushahidi.

Today was quite special in that the Sokoni sub-ward officer joined one of our community teams, reporting the problems within the community. They engaged fully in the process, finally seeing the problems they had found on the map.

I could feel the sense of achievement from the community members and students. The community members were animated at showing their work to the representatives of the local government, especially those who were on friendly terms with the officials.

Initially I feared that the dynamic of student and community would be one that would be difficult. The students are from Ardhi University and are the best and brightest urban planners that East Africa has the offer (the students come from Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda and Congo). They are on average technology literate and have, with some guidance, become power-users of JOSM and other OSM tools. Understandably the community took time getting to grips with the software and methodology.

We ran a Saturday session, now they are quite proficient with computers, GPS’ and cameras. Closing the gulf the community can help the students and vice-versa. Because we wish for the project to be sustainable the drive must come from the community members, and it has. They’ve really taken ownership of the project. Before they would be querying the OSM Tags, or how to pull tracks and waypoints off a GPS. Now they navigate all tasks with ease.

We start each mapping session at 0900 sharp. To be ready for this time, we arrive at 0830 to set the projector, plug laptops etc. Now I set the projector up, once I’ve handed out the laptops. Nearly all members (community and student) are present, ready and waiting. They, and by extension, Tandale, now own the project.

Originally posted by Mark Illiffe on his blog on August 27, 2011. Mark is working with GroundTruth in Tandale, Dar es Salaam this month introducing community mapping and reporting to Dar es Salaam residents, in a project supported by the World Bank and Twaweza.

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