featuring André Kuipers, ESA astronaut

Mapping Party: putting Malawi on the map

  • 14 Nov 2016
  • 15:30 - 20:00
  • Westvest 7, 2611 AX Delft
Western Europe
UNESCO-IHE Auditorium

On 14 November, UNESCO-IHE is joining a Mapping Party for Malawi hosted by the ITC faculty of the University of Twente. During the event, André Kuipers, ESA astronaut and ambassador for the Red Cross Princess Margriet Fund, will deliver a keynote speech at ITC, which will be live-streamed to the Mapathon participants in Delft.

Mapping Party

During the Mapping Party, volunteers will map the structure of the country, based on satellite images, on OpenStreetMap, a detailed, open-source map of the world. Volunteers in Malawi will later add local information, for example on schools, sanitary provisions, hospitals and water point monitoring in the local language. That way the data on the map will become more relevant on the ground.   

We invite everybody to become an ‘online volunteer’ for a night. You don’t have to have any experience; it is easy to learn and we have trained experts available to help you on your way. Bring your laptop and mouse and join the initiative. 

Importance of mapping vulnerable areas

Good mapping material is essential for strengthening vulnerable places around the world. Places which are suffering from epidemics, conflicts, natural disasters, poverty or environmental problems, for example. Mapping helps governments to make better (policy) decisions and aid organisations to offer better assistance, because they have more knowledge in advance about medical activities and the distribution of needed relief supplies. In cases of disaster, they are able to react better and quicker. 

Malawi is such a vulnerable place. The south of the country suffered a major flood in 2015. More than a quarter of a million people were affected by this natural disaster. 


Missing Maps is an international crowdsourcing initiative through which people from all over the world contribute to the augmentation of the world map on OpenStreetMap. In doing so, they focus on the world’s most vulnerable spots. More than 15,000 people are involved and, together, they have contributed more than 24 million updates. So-called mapathons are being held all over the world to bring the map more up to date, little by little. 


Everybody is welcome to join the Mapping Party, which will be held at UNESCO-IHE, free of charge. Specialist technical knowledge is not a prerequisite.  

MSc students and PhD fellows from UNESCO-IHE can just come to the Auditorium at 15.30 hrs and join the introduction to the project. After that we will move downstairs and have the actual mapping party in the restaurant. 

If you do not work or study at the Institute, but are interested in joining: please sign up by sending an email to Hans van der Kwast (contact details on the right). He will make sure you are registered to enter the building and join the party. 

Missing Maps continues

Missing Maps is an initiative of the Red Cross, MSF and other NGOs aiming to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world. Learn more about the project here.

You can get involved as an individual here, even after the Mapping party has ended, or if you are unable to attend. The Missing Maps organizers will let you know by email when there are tasks that need doing – or when there are other mapping parties, like this one, being organized.