My experience at the first State of the Map Africa

by: July 21st, 2017 comments: 0

A 38Km road from Entebbe International Airport to Kampala was not an easy ride. I never thought there could be such bad traffic in Kampala like Nairobi. I have always known Nairobi to be a crazy city but Kampala was equally CRAZY…

I have been sponsored by Mapbox to attend and represent Map Kibera at the very first State of the Map Africa conference, held at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. The event was organized by OpenStreetMap Africa community, most of whom I have only been able to meet online. This was a great opportunity to now meet them in person.

I arrived at Bativa Hotel at around 1930 hrs and I can’t pay for my cab ride of UGS 90000 and my Hotel accommodation — because I forgot to change my money at the airport. By boda (motor bike) the security guard at the hotel offers to escort me back to Kampala town where I would be able to change my Kenya Shillings into Ugandan money. It was nice to see how Kenyan money had more value over Ugandan money.

Back to the hotel I got my room and grabbed some dinner before to sleep. My presentation was at 13:30, day 1 soon after lunch, a generally bad time for the obvious reason, but it was ok!

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When I took the stage to present Map Kibera, I knew in the back of my mind that most of the folks in the room already knew about Map Kibera and so I needed to tell them something new, something unique. Around 150 persons representing 21 countries across Africa eagerly listened to my session. It always amazes me when talking to people who know or perhaps have a rough idea about my community Kibera. Most of the guys did know. I talked about how Map Kibera couples its mapping with citizen journalism giving people a platform to speak about some of the issues highlighted by the map. I also shared how we train and empower other communities to map their own communities locally and tell their own stories in their own perspective.

This is one of those events that you meet some of the most amazing people in the world and get to learn how the world has become a global village. A lot of mutual friends and people who know people who know people that you know. A nice feeling indeed! This is the time you also meet people who are working round the clock to make Africa and the world a better place. I was particularly impressed by the team from Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania. Good job out there! Am always tempted to mention Geoffrey of Uganda, his dedication to this course was outstanding, for real, along with the other organizing committee members.

We had both French and English speaking countries represented, and so translation was necessary back and forth. It kind of slowed down the process but we are a community who tries to be all inclusive and walk together. I loved the sense of togetherness and oneness amongst the OpenStreetMap Community. Mapathon day 1, cocktail day 2 and football at the end were some of the most bonding moments for all of us.

I can also not forget the amazing presentation by Ramani Huria. I saw a lot of similarities with Map Kibera — naturally there is a long history here between the two communities. I first met them in Nairobi 2016, during the Open Data Fest conference, but their presentation in Kampala was one of a kind.

And finally, I can never forget the ambush by one of the organizers Clare, telling me to give a final remark and share experience at a panel on how to strengthen and foster the emerging OpenStreetMap Communities in Africa. Yes I said, so long as I know what we do and what Map Kibera stands for, it should be fine.

What a great time in Kampala! Big thanks to Mapbox and all the sponsors that helped bring us together.

LINDI FIRE THAT LEFT AROUND 3O FAMILIES HOMELESS

by: March 27th, 2017 comments: 0

On 17th March fire has erupted, destroying properties in Lindi near Mashimoni Squaters School. Around thirty families were left homeless.

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Some victims viewing at their burnt houses

Recently other two fire incidents were reported in Gatwekera and Laini Saba respectively. Fire incidents are usually reported about three per month in Kibera. The main causes of fire range from electricity faults to gas explosions, to domestic incidents or in some cases has been alleged they could be caused deliberately by people with hidden motives. In this particular Lindi case, the fire is said to have been caused by an electricity fault.

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The electricity pole in the middle of the burnt houses

After the resonance of the KNN photos on Social Media, the office of Kibra MP Ken Okoth contacted KNN and promised some assistance to the affected families:

Tomorrow 18th March 2017, the office of Kibra Member of Parliament Hon. Kenneth Okoth will donate Blankets and Mattresses to victims of Lindi Ward. The office also asked Mashimoni Squarters Primary to accommodate the affected families tonight, and till the day affected families will structure their homes.

The day after, the KNN team went back to witness the aftermath of the fire and talked with some of the victims. “The fire started when I was outside and since I have a broken leg, I couldn’t run in and save anything. I really appreciate that the MP office have brought us some blankets and mattresses, but only if they could help us rebuild out houses, that would be great, because now finding a house in Kibera is very difficult. In my condition I can’t walk to search for a new house and I have two children”, said Marion Ashioya.

During the distribution of the mattresses and the blankets, George Otieno, representative of the Constituency Emergency and Response Affairs, stated:  “We have helped over thirty people, we brought them some blankets and mattresses so they can find something to start with. I would like to ask the County Government to ensure that each Sub-county has its own fire engine that can help in such cases. However, the landlords buildings here must also leave enough space that can enable fire engine to penetrate, save lives and properties.

The Mashimoni Squartes Primary has hosted fifteen people since the first night, while the other affected families are hosted by neighbours as they work to rebuild their own houses.

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At the distribution of the blankets and matresses

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George Otieno from the office of MP leads the distribution process

Reaching out to Kibera Parents about Schools

by: June 30th, 2016 comments: 0

Parents ask questions regarding the map and website

Parents ask questions about the map and website

After collecting data and putting around 350 Kibra schools on the map, and developing a website, there was a need to have the Kibera parents to access the data. Map Kibera’s team organized the first parents outreach at a strategic position in Olympic where people would pass and get attracted to the booth they had staged.

This activity emerged from the Open Schools Kenya project supported by the Gates Foundation aiming to make education information easily available, accessible and useful to everyone as well as promoting data interoperability. This was a pilot project in Kibera that saw every school have a profile page with all their details ranging from the population to gender to programs offered to school fees to contact information etc.

By checking the school profile pages Map Kibera hoped that Kibera parents would be able to make informed choices of which schools to take their children to, depending on their capabilities and also preferences.

Parents started flocking around the booth, mostly interested to see in the map schools that their children attend. However, after seeing more details from the website they would spend more time checking the number of students per school and how much school fees different schools charge.

Joshua Ogure of Map Kibera demonstrate to parents how the Open Schools Kenya website works

Joshua Ogure of Map Kibera demonstrates to parents how the Open Schools Kenya website works

I can use this map when I need to transfer my child to a desired school because I now have all the information I need here,” says Stephene Otiende, a Kibera parent whose child goes to one of the public schools around. 

Mr. Otiende was specifically happy that he would be able to check how much a school charges as well as it population before sending his child to any given school in Kibra. However a parent named Irene was quick to identify that her child’s school was missing in the map. “Why it is that Star of Hope and Charles Lwanga are missing here?” she asked. On trying to navigate the map, it was true the schools in question were missing, perhaps the school was too hidden, had relocated, changed name or just did not accept to be mapped. Those were some of the possible reasons that could lead to a school missing in the map. This information has helped Map Kibera identify any missing schools, which the mappers have already begun adding into the site.

Around 25 parents visited the booth and walked away with a paper copy of the schools map, and got a chance to view and navigate some other details of their children’s schools from the Open Schools Kenya website.

Lucy, Steve and Zack of Map Kibera getting ready at the booth

Lucy, Steve and Zack of Map Kibera at the booth

Now Map Kibera team is mapping the few missing schools and updating some of the key information and data. The next step is to start adding schools in other regions of Nairobi, and Kenya.