Since October 2016 I have been adding schools and other points of interest in rural Tanzania to Openstreetmap.org – a community of mappers that contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafés, railway stations and so forth, all over the world.
The Tanzania Development Trust (TDT) www.tanzdevtrust.org is a charity that supports projects in Tanzania and they also work with the OpenStreetMap tool. TDT funds development projects in Tanzania since 1975 and is supported by international volunteers.
The first TDT project I worked on was focussing on the area around Mugumu, Serengeti to help protect girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). Maps of rural Tanzania are helping social workers access remote villages and rescue girls who are being forced to undergo female genital cutting.
For more information about FGM please visit the WHO website.
It is quite a strange experience, while tagging buildings and roads on your computer screen, that you are able to help people to navigate in a region I’m not familiar with – and that at 10.000KM distance! It is great that digital technology can actually have a direct impact on our fellow residents. But at the same time are girls both in health and psychologically seriously injured during ritual ceremonies. Therefor FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights. It reflects a culture of deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
My internet consumption each month is >25 hours (easily) and I thought why not combining my online presence and volunteering at the same time? For me online volunteering worked out pretty well and in average I am spending 2-3 hours every week on the mapping. If you like to support the Tanzania Development Trust or similar good causes, you could have a look at the United Nations Volunteers website.