Mapping Ouaga: IP Burkina Fighting Excision

Last update on July 4, 2013.

Mapping Ouaga: IP Burkina Fighting Excision

IP Burkina OSM Workshop

Though innovative mapping can be beneficial anywhere, it appears to be especially impactful in those regions of the World which have been less heavily mapped. Burkina Faso is such a place.

I4P in Burkina Faso: IP Burkina

In December 2011, through I4P’s InnovAfrica forum[1], a group of innovators in Ouagadougou established the IP Burkina workgroup.

Since then, IP Burkina has been involved in a number of projects which aim to bring together social innovation and technological expertise. For instance, workgroup members have been participating in RikMa, a project based on the motorcycle equivalent of carpooling.

InnovAfrica 2011 Participants by Sylvain Maire

IP Burkina has also been involved in Ouaga FabLabs, a project to establish “fabrication laboratories” in Ouagadougou. Like IP Burkina itself, Ouaga FabLabs was established during the 2011 InnovAfrica forum.

Ouaga FabLabs at BootCamp Ouagadougou, InnovAfrica 2011

Through a conversation with Moumouni Compaore, we were able to learn more about innovative social projects in Burkina Faso.

Mapping Workshop

IP Burkina OSM Workshop

I4P’s “focus week” on mapping provided the context for our conversation with Compaore.

Among human technologies, mapping brings a unique blend of global and local issues. We all live on the same planet yet most issues have a local anchoring.

Several mapping projects focus on a specific set of local issues which can be tackled by relatively small teams working in the field. Excision (also called “female genital mutilation” or FGM) is one such issue. Social projects seeking to make excision a thing of the past are bringing together diverse innovators throughout West Africa.

In January 2012, IP Burkina has organized a training workshop in the use of OpenStreetMap (OSM). This workshop was the result of a partnership with the following organizations.

  • Centre national de lutte contre la pratique de l’excision (CNLPE)
  • Helvetas
  • Voix de femmes
  • Organisation islamique pour le bien-être familial (OIBF)

A key notion in this project is that there are zones where excision is more likely to occur. Such factors as population density and literacy rates can be used to identify those at-risk zones. Appropriate maps containing relevant data can readily enhance people’s work in the field, as they concentrate their efforts on those zones.

IP Burkina’s OSM workshop consisted of a one-day event divided in two phases, a theoretical presentation of mapping techniques and concepts followed by practice in the field. This workshop attracted a small but diverse group of people, bringing together field practitioners in the fight against excision and mapping enthusiasts along with students in law and geography.

IP Burkina OSM Workshop

Opportunities and Challenges

Because participants in a mapping workshop require direct attention, Compaore advises would-be organizers to limit these workshops to small groups of people. As with many other cases, a snowball effect can conceivably take place once technological appropriation by participants has been achieved.

Among challenges faced by participants in the workshop were technical limitations related to browsers, Internet access and positioning tools. Furthermore, Compaore notes that geographers and other people who are able to read maps are particularly valuable in such a project.

The need for Internet access and expertise makes tangible the reality of major divides across the world. Most of the projects on the I4P platform relate to needs like those. Helping social innovators empower themselves through other people’s projects represents one of the main ways through which I4P can support innovative social projects.

Clearly, Ouagadougou is among those places where social innovators stumble upon hurdles related to those limitations. The city could become a hub for social innovation but its position on “the wrong side of the Digital Divide” makes it difficult for local actors to undertake the creative projects which make it possible to change the world. Because of this, IP Burkina has put open access to the Internet among goals. For instance, open connections on the university campus could bring together students and local entrepreneurs, greatly enhancing their work and enabling cooperation.

IP Burkina OSM Workshop IP Burkina OSM Workshop IP Burkina OSM Workshop IP Burkina OSM Workshop

IP Burkina OSM Workshop IP Burkina OSM Workshop    IP Burkina OSM Workshop

  1. Some information in English about InnovAfrica 2012 can be found on Press News Africa.  ↩

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