Open Cities Africa, Monrovia, Liberia

Project team capturing drone imagery in Doe Community; Credit: Carter Draper/iLab Liberia

In February, we finished our project to map flood-prone areas of Monrovia, Liberia, to help flood resilience efforts in urban areas. This work was supported as part of the Open Cities Africa initiative, carried out in 11 cities across Africa. Monrovia is home to a growing population of 1.3 million people, of which two-thirds live in unplanned or slum communities in low-elevation coastal areas and swampy flood-prone land. For many residents, this can mean year-round flooding which greatly impacts their health and employment.

In September 2018, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team teamed up with tech hub iLab Liberia and OpenStreetMap Liberia. The collaboration generated maps to help unplanned settlements and slum communities to be more resilient to flooding and other natural disasters. The maps will help key stakeholders, such as the Liberia National Red Cross Society, Monrovia City Corporation, and National Disaster Management Agency to make evidence-based decisions to respond to, and reduce the risk caused by natural disasters in Monrovia. An important stakeholder is the community themselves. By making all the map data openly accessible on OpenStreetMap and giving back map products such as wall maps or map atlases to the communities, they will be able to use the information to advocate for better services and build resilience to floods.

The project team used drones to capture up-to-date, high resolution images of the at-risk communities around Bushrod Island. The acquired drone imagery was used to trace all buildings, roads and waterways in the area. Over 20 community members and volunteers added points to the map on the ground. In all, we added and edited a total of 4,567 buildings, 20 km of roads, 94 km of waterways, hundreds of water points, drainage, and solid waste collection points, and dozens of key service facilities.

"Over the years, I've been involved in many mapping initiatives, but all that data has gotten siloed and unused in the longer term. Now, using the OpenStreetMap and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team tools and methodologies, these allow us to work with local communities and partners on an open data platform that makes this data usable for everyone in Monrovia"
- Carter Draper, Country Director, iLab Liberia


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