Last Wednesday, the Peace Corps came by our office for an OpenStreetMap Mapathon. For two hours, 15 volunteers got together to edit OpenStreetMap focusing on mapping the Milange district in Mozambique.

Peace Corps Mapathon at Mapbox SF

Peace Corps Volunteer, Marcus Huels is based in Milange, a district located on the border with Malawi. Milange is one of the few districts receiving mosquito-cide indoor residual spraying. Marcus works directly with district-level government health centers to lower malarial prevalence - a major U.S. foreign assistance objective. In Marcus’s words:

Maps have always been an interest of mine… OpenStreetMap [allows us to] bring a verifiable, data-driven focus to increasing the number of structures being sprayed to prevent malarial transmission… [it can also] contribute to the indicators that other NGOs are working towards: lowering malaria prevalence, increasing access to drinking water, finding HIV patients or local community leaders, and fostering stronger epidemiological surveillance at local health facilities.

The data exists, especially when it comes to geographical layouts of my district. I see it on a daily basis: from a beautifully colored map on a district office wall, to obscure digital maps someone just happens to share with me, to a hand-drawn map on a poster-sized paper at a rural health center. The main issue is that, while the information exists, it’s just not aggregated in one location where people who need access to it can do it quickly, easily, and at little to no cost.

The market of Nampambala, in the southeast part of Milange district with Mt. Pawale in the background. Photo credit: Marcus Huels

“For the Good of All of Us: Let’s End Malaria” Photo credit: Marcus Huels

See photos from the mapathon and follow our blog or reach out on twitter to be at the next one!