Friday the 19th February was a big day for #MapLesotho. It marked the final day of the MOU with Fingal County Council trainers. The Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship – the Honourable Dr. Pontšo Sekatle, called a press conference at the Avani Sun Hotel in Maseru. She wanted to see what had been achieved with the #MapLesotho project since its inception in 2014 and publicly recieve the sign-off of Fingal Country Council. The Conference started with a few welcome remarks by the Deputy Principal Secretary Local Government and Chieftainship who called Ciarán Staunton to give the handover on behalf of Fingal County Council.
Ciarán said that the Ministry had wisely suggested that opensource solutions should be pursued in creating and analysing the spatial data of the country. That is why OpenStreetMap was chosen to make the data, and QGIS was chosen as the tool to analyse it. The mapping of the country, its features and buildings had involved over 750 people over the past two years. The complexity of the map had grown from merely 50,000 spatial nodes to almost nine million spatial nodes in 2 years.
Myself and three of my colleagues also stood up and related the value of the particular skills we had learned in the two weeks. I was very pleased with Mzwandile and Refiloe as they each described what they had gained. My speech is partly captured in the video above here.
In her remarks, the Minister of Local Government showed her gratitude to Fingal County Council trainers and the Republic of Ireland, for extending a helping hand to contribute to the spatial development of Lesotho. She stated that this assistance came at a relevant time while management of land proper settlement planning should be put in place, and that she would seek to amend the Regional and town Planning Act to do this.
She further urged the trainees to put into practice the skills they have acquired to improve the districts where they are based and contribute to the betterment of the whole Country. She stated that by the time she was sworn in as the new minister in the Ministry of Local Government she was mandated to see to it that the land is properly managed, and that she entrusts the planners who have now been equipped with new skills to continue working hard, as these skills would be required shortly.
#MapLesotho was a success, at least this phase was. The Fingal County Council trainers were superb, and really helped us create and shape a resource for the future of planning in our country. There is a lot to play for here, we are developing, and developing countries need to do the right things with how they build, to maximise efficiecy and not destroy our environments.