At the invitation of his Excellency, Paramente Phamotse Lesotho Ambassador to Ireland, a small number of openstreetmap users gathered for a follow up mapathon just a month after the #MapLesotho crowdsource opened. This time the focus was on rural Lesotho, the larger of the two major HOTOSM tasks designed to create the basemap.
The day did not start well as two major news outlets reported an army ‘coup’ in Lesotho overnight. This involved a section of the Army leaving their barracks and moving to detain the Prime Minister, who had wind of these intentions and fled to neighbouring South Africa. In a number of minor operations a policeman was killed as he refused to be disarmed. This presented all those involved in#MapLesotho with a dilemma, whether to gather and go to the embassy and risk being in the centre of a panic, or cancel and map from home at a later time. Various conversations took place, including the calm intervention of Paramente to re-assure everyone that while the events overnight did demonstrate political volatility, this was no ‘coup’. And he was proved right as more accurate reports indicated that army had stood down and returned to their barracks. The clearest articulation of the need to proceed with mapping was by Denis Parfenov, who noted that on the very thing to do when Civil authority is undermined – is to participate in crowdsourcing to improve the work of Civil Society.
There was a strong presence from the Irish openstreetmap group, particularly @DaCorr @Skimacker, @Lalonde, @iridium, @dallob, @CiaranStaunton, @ayoyeni1, @HasminYamid and of course @Rusty1052 and @JosephCorr who are part of the annual Fingal-Lesotho exchange.
The gathering pushed the task from 26 to 30% completeness in five hours, with a small number of follow ups the following day pushing that to 32%. The opportunity for experienced openstreetmap users to gather always increases accuracy and excellence.