OSM in West Africa: The Mapping Continues

07 November 2017

OSM in West Africa: The Mapping Continues

A year ago marked the end of the West Africa mapping project, where over 100 Red Cross volunteers in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone traveled to over 7,000 border communities to ensure that these vulnerable areas were “on the map” - creating open data in OpenStreetMap that can be used by responders if another epidemic like Ebola were to occur.

Although the Red Cross project has wrapped up, the OSM communities are growing in all three countries, and we’re excited to share updates about their activities and what they are planning for Geography Awareness Week this month!

Huge thanks to the OSM communities in these countries and especially to those who shared their updates for this post: Youssef Bamba, Tommy Godphery, Emmanuel Greene, David Luswata, Patrick Massaquoi, Emmanuel Myers, O’George Stephens, and Tino Toupane.


OSM Guinea has grown to a big community of 233 members.

Since the end of the West Africa Mapping Project, the OSM community of Guinea organized 10 mapathons to focus on mapping in Conakry. OSM Guinea has also fully mapped the city of Dalaba in collaboration with a local Youth Mappers chapter.

The community also helped with mapping activities farther afield - helping to map in response to Hurricane Irma, the recent earthquake in Mexico, the Freetown landslides, World Malaria Day, and ongoing malaria activities in Zambia.

In addition to these contributions, OSM Guinea helped to create three Youth Mappers chapters in Guinea and one chapter at Fourah Bay College in Freetown. The community has also trained 73 students in mapping with QGIS and another 65 people in OSM editing tools.

For GeoWeek 2017, OSM Guinea has planned four mapathons in partnership with the Youth Mappers chapters of the universities of Dalaba, Sonfonia and N’Wéréloré.

For future activities, OSM Guinea is interested to map the rest of the city of Conakry and to start Youth Mappers chapters at Kankan University and Boke University. They are also looking for partners to support infrastructure and services mapping for Conakry, mapping of the Mount Nimba Biosphere Reserve, and computer upgrades.


OSM Liberia has also been growing quickly, and recently reached 425 members. This includes the Liberia chapter of Youth Mappers, which is active in the region.

Over the past year, OSM Liberia was actively involved in a HOT project that trained and enabled volunteers to map their respective communities, roads, administrative boundaries, and other amenities in three cities of three counties in Liberia; Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties. The volunteers were also involved with data cleaning and editing processes under the supervision of the HOT team.

For GeoWeek this year, OSM Liberia is working on bringing all of its cells from all regions of the country to host a grand mapathon event. This event will encompass diverse mapping activities which will last for a week.

OSM Liberia is also looking for new partners for activities for the upcoming year.

Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone OSM community is relatively new, but has had an exciting year. Fourah Bay College in Freetown launched a Youth Mapper Chapter and the FBC students have continued to participate in mapping activities. Outside of Youth Mappers, the OSM Sierra Leone community has been growing and was represented at State of the Map Africa by Grace Kainessi and State of the Map Asia by Tommy Charles. This OSM community is working towards formal recognition as an independent organization and intends to file for legal registration with the government. Congrats to the OSM SL community for this exciting step!

by David Luswata, Emily Eros, and local contributors