Informal settlements are generally ‘unrecognised’ in many urban settings. In years that have passed places like Mathare, Kibera and Mukuru were not visible on the net. With the advent of participatory mapping and Open Street Map platform, it became practical for communities that are hidden from rest of the world to be visible.
Open Street Map has now become the alternative to showing what most governmens would not want highlighted due to ‘policies’. My experience of mapping Mathare was filled with anxious moments and too many questions by the village elders. Elders in 2010 looked at mapping as a way of demacating land and plot allocation and regulization.
Upon mapping mapping Mathare; boundries and resource distribution in the community became evident and this was followed by meaningful discussions with how the community looks like and what is not there.
Local leaders, NGOs and community based groups were not left behind. The map has been become a source of inspiration and motivation to proper community development. The disparities in allocation of resources by the politicians and local administration became evident and discussions ensued.
The power of people mapping their communities can no longer be ignored as it brings out the true picture of the community.
Thanks to Open Street Map, the underprivileged, invisible can now be corrected and made visible- Simon