The Mara Mapping Party was hosted by Upande LTD in Nairobi in collaboration with ITC in the Netherlands, UNESCO-IHE and Wageningen University and Research. The event brought together mappers and GISers from different institutions within the three regions to discuss the usefulness of the the Geospatial technologies in different sectors. With a number of demo sessions of completed and ongoing projects on mapping, the professionals were able to discuss exhaustively on issues pertaining to this topic of interest. The interactive sessions between the three groups were also so much fun as great topics were discussed amongst the members. Some of the topics discussed include;
- Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative (MaMaSe) by Prof. Michael McClain from UNESCO-IHE,
- Mara Rangeland Information System (MARIS) by Bert Toxopeus from ITC,
- Green Economic Growth in times of drought by Saskia Werners and Jaclyn Rooker from WUR,
- Kenya Demo Case of the Ground Truth 2.0 project by Mark de Blois from Upande,
- Missing Maps and instructions by Erik Meerburg
- and the Mapathon
The event came at a time when the region is experiencing a natural disaster, a pro-longed drought that has adversely hit the region leaving many people with no food for survival and the loss of animals and resources. Discussing to better understand the Mau – Mara – Serengeti region and derive the causes of such occurrences is vital so as to define solutions to these problems for the days to come. Remote Sensing techniques, Spatial Data analysis, IT and GIS have proven to be key technologies for use in tackling modern day problems by providing cutting edge solutions to these problems for today and the future. Combining these skills to tackle location-based issues ensures guided decisions for different areas such as the MaMaSe ecosystems.
The mapathon session included practical sessions with members working on the HOT’s OSM Tasking manager to digitize more features found in the MaMaSe region. With the help of the professionals who have worked with OSM before, the team members were able to digitize data, some for the first time on OSM and submit their work. It’s through such events in which out-sourcing of this data helps to improve the dataset repositories in which other people in the society can use for different tasks to better our societies.
It clearly projected from the mapping party the zeal and enthusiasm of the young GIS developers and mappers the existence of a force and desire to revolutionize the society. The powerful open source tools provide solutions to existing problems like hunger and starvation in the particular focus through highlighting areas of priority in salvaging the situation as well as the means of accessing the areas. There was a call to embrace available technologies in spearheading reforms in alarming environmental and societal issues through action plan design and outlay.
Basically, the event was so informative, educational as well as fun. The mapping activity continues even after the event. Some photos from the event are as seen below: