Putting Communities on the Map: World AIDS Day Mapathon

More than 70 people gathered in DC on November 30 in the observance of World AIDS day to celebrate over 30 years of progress against HIV/AIDS. By the end of the evening over 1,500 data points were mapped throughout rural areas of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Côte d'Ivoire that have been impacted by HIV/AIDS.

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Mapathons are vital for creating detailed maps of unmapped areas so that necessary aid and services can be better delivered. Understanding where communities are located, their access to essential services, and how they are connected by roads helps U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) ensure HIV/AIDS programs are in the right locations. Geographic focus is a critical part of these programs as PEPFAR seeks to align services and investments with the epidemic, which is more concentrated in specific regions and neighborhoods. This year’s World AIDS Day Mapathon marked the end of the first year since PEPFAR launched their first open mapping projects, specifically focused on program areas surrounding Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

This year Open Gov Hub partnered with the OpenStreetMap community and provided a collaborative space and community to support and participate in the Mapathon. Participants - students and practitioners in related fields - were able to connect with fellow volunteer mappers (new and seasoned) while listening to how increased spatial data will improve PEPFAR’s understanding of HIV/AIDS program coverage, the optimization of supply-chain logistics, and the analysis of clinical site-level data in locations that until now have been unmapped, helping better serve those in need. Additionally, there was a joint Mapathon taking place in Dar es Salaam at the Tanzania Data Lab where fellow mappers were mapping the same areas.

Since the launch of the PEPFAR mapping tasks, volunteers have contributed to over 280,000 data points. This is an increase of over 200,000 data points from when we had the 1st PEPFAR Mapathon last year at Open Gov Hub! Remote mapping efforts combined with local knowledge and field mapping will result in a more comprehensive map throughout the region. Join us on the PEPFAR mapping initiative by finding the relevant tasks here, and if you are new to mapping visit the MapGive Learn to Map page to get started.

Organizers for the World AIDS Day Mapathon included the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, the U.S. Department of State (MapGive), USAID (YouthMappers), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Missing Maps. Thank you to Open Gov Hub and ActioNet for being our sponsors.

Read more about the event and the work of MapGive and PEPFAR here.

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