Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks
HNPW 2023 (17-28 April 2023)

Session title: Scaling grassroots organizations to influence change and impact local and global ecosystems through open mapping
24 Apr 23 (14:00-15:00) UTC+2  (Salle 11)

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is largely adopted by humanitarian & development practitioners around the world, and has proven its reactivity, sustainability and efficiency as a global tool for open and contributive mapping. However, those who are building organizations and communities around OSM-focused activities face a multitude of sustainability challenges: from financial sustainability to volunteer retention, from leadership and governance to inclusivity, and more. CartONG and HOT have started a programme to share learnings between 10 OSM community organizations and leaders from Africa, Asia and America seeking improved sustainability. Our goal is for those grassroots organizations to impact their local ecosystem through the use of open and participatory mapping, but also globally to influence change in the way the international development sector is shaped. We will also discuss how actors that want to be allies for these collective intelligence commons can support and collaborate with grassroots open mapping organizations.


The OpenStreetMap (OSM) Communities’ Sustainability Exchange is a program co-facilitated by CartONG and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT). The Exchange aims to empower and improve the sustainability of OSM communities across the world who are contributing and maintaining high quality open map data to influence positive change in the environments in which they live. The program facilitates peer-to-peer learning with 10 communities from HOT’s ‘focus countries’ on three continents. This includes: Map Kibera (Kenya), OSM Senegal, OSM Ghana, OSM DRC, OSM Kerala (India), POI (Indonesia), BOIL (Bangladesh), COSMHANNE (Haiti), GeoID (Mexico), and Open Map Development Tanzania (OMDTZ).

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a free, open geographic database updated and maintained by a community of volunteers via open collaboration. Contributors collect data from surveys, trace from aerial imagery and also import from other freely licensed geodata sources ( Individual and groups of self-organized “mappers” can contribute to OSM in a variety of different ways, and the data can be used and disseminated to influence positive change in the environments in which those mappers operate.

Since October 2022, an inception phase of the Exchange has started with two in-person workshops. The first workshop, which was part of the HOT UnSummit Program at the GeONG conference in Chambéry, France, has allowed to link the communities, share experiences and design "sustainable action plans" for each participants.

The second workshop, which was also part of the HOT UnSummit Program at State of the Map Tanzania in January 2023, has allowed to consider blockers and enablers of the action plans to co-design the program, and start working on anadvocacy paper / white paper that captures community needs to positively influence local, regional and national decision makers.

Those two workshops have allowed us to assess the specific needs of participating communities in order to conceive a scale up of our Exchange programme, with the ultimate goal to improve the sustainability of these 10 groups but also build resources and methodologies useful for more communities around the world.


  • Martin Noblecourt,Participatory and open data projects manager, CartONG (onsite)
  • Representatives from OSM communities involved in the sustainability exchange (online)