What is rural mapping?

Rural mapping is the process of creating maps of rural areas (areas that aren’t big cities). To do that satellite images (photos taken from above by satellites orbiting the earth) are taken. Then they are drawn over online, marking out roads and buildings. Anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone can add to the map by using an online app. Because the map is online, anyone can then access it and use it if they need to.


Having maps of different areas is really useful in lots of different ways:

  • Maps can be used by communities who want to mark out where their land ends and another community starts.
  • Creating a map of road networks can show how to get from one place to another in the easiest or quickest way.
  • The maps can show communities where the nearest important places are, like hospitals, community centres and schools.
  • Maps can be used by people visiting a new area.
  • Maps stop us from getting lost.
  • Rural maps can be used by health professionals to reach people who need help in an emergency.
  • Local officials can use the maps to see where schools, clinics, community centres and water points are most needed.


An organisation called Crowd2Map Tanzania have been mapping rural Tanzania. Since 2015, they have labelled schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and villages on an online map.

Tanzanians now uses the online map to protect girls in communities around them from cutting. If they receive news of a girl in danger, they can use the maps they have created to find the quickest way to get to her village, and then to navigate around the village.

Crowd2Map Tanzania have now also opened a Youth Mappers Chapter at the Institute of Rural Development and Planning in Mwanza and Dodoma – so now everyone in the community is involved with protecting girls and helping to put their community on the map!

This case study clearly shows the importance of creating maps of rural areas – and, not only can maps be used by big organisations like Crowd2Map Tanzania, but they can also be used by people living in rural communities to find the nearest services and to figure out the quickest ways to get to other communities!


As shown by the case study, creating maps of rural areas is really important, helping communities and families access important places like hospitals, schools, and community centres. Maps can also help health professionals reach people quickly in emergencies.



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