We are able to identify locations that look like human settlements only through the generous work of volunteers (from all over the world) working in “Map-a-thons.” These are public events where volunteers (new or experienced) look carefully through small squares of satellite imagery on a computer screen, and trace (using a mouse) the outlines of villages. It is a time consuming and exacting process that can feel like “trying to find a round brown hut amidst round brown trees against a brown background!”


Despite this, we’ve found in practice that the work is of excellent quality—more experienced mappers help the newcomers and supervise them. If anything, we have found an occasional over-diligence, being sent on once or twice to a farmer’s field with a typically African shade hut constructed for shelter during the course of a working day, leading to amusing comments in the field data like, “This is just a farmer’s field!” Electronically, the areas outlined by volunteers form an “assignment list” for the field crew, which is augmented by inquiring about any new villages in the area. The available satellite imagery can sometimes be 1 to as much as 7 years old, and villages do sometimes abandon, relocate, or emerge for a variety of reasons.

Situation of Sierra Leone in West Africa [BELOW]. Sierra Leone shares the same time zone as London England, Greenwich Meantime or UTC+0.

Showing the scale of Sierra Leone compared to the entire continent.

African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon. [BELOW] Thanks to Rachel Strohm.

Africa 1844, by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon

An overview of Sierra Leone [BELOW], and indicating settlements which have been identified by the WAMM team through survey visits including GPS recording and informant interviews.

[Composer Screen Shot from QGIS as at July 19, 2017]

Seven weeks of work by two crews(approximately 8 surveyors) interviewing Sierra Leonians about their country.

This interactive map [BELOW] shows some of the highlight locations in the project. Click on the icons for notes on the locations.

[mapsmarker layer = “1”]


The image [BELOW] shows the field work completed by WAMM teams on the ground from June 7 to July 21, 2017. Area on right is the major portion of the Nixon Memorial Hospital catchment area. Area to top left are the Wondor and Gorama Mende, where MSF Belgium is beginning a project on infant and maternal health.
[Composer Screen Shot from QGIS as at July 19, 2017]

WAMM coverage June 7 to July 31, 2017.

This map [BELOW] focusses on the catchment area of Nixon Memorial Hospital. The team arrived in Segbwema and began work almost immediately. This is the number of villages that can be covered by new teams in six weeks, including some hinterland regions where the geography inhibits travel and causes inefficiency.
[Composer Screen Shot from QGIS as at July 19, 2017]

The exact extent of the Nixon Hospital patient catchment area is not known, but a high majority of patients come from these indicated settlements. Work continues in August to fill in the unsurveyed portion of Kailahun District.

[BELOW] Wondor and Gorama Mende Cheifdoms “Complete and Accurate.” The next stage will be to apply a randomized data check to conform to international standards.
[Composer Screen Shot from QGIS as at July 19, 2017]

There is a lot of forest and water in these two Chiefdoms where the MSF project will be based.

Data Verification, and links to OpenStreetMap

All data gathered will be subjected to an independent verification process, and, when approved, will be added to the freely available, open source data project called “OpenStreetMap” [no spaces are used in the name].

HERE is the ABOUT page on their website.

HERE is Sierra Leone on OpenStreetMap