Buildings in Road Reserve

A road reserve is a legally described area within which facilities such as utility lines, roads, footpaths, and associated features may be constructed for public travel. There’s a problem in towns of road reserve encroachment which has become a challenge to deal with as there is resistance from the public in general.

Quthing town, Moyeni(Lower) has single street, and buildings, either residential or commercial have encroached into the road reserve such that plans to expand the road are impossible. Example is in the picture below where we see cars parked on pavements where pedestrians are supposed to be walking, and expansion of the road is impossible what so ever.

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Mapillary image of Quthing showing encroachments and “pinch” points

There are regulations for that but are not followed as few people seem to adhere to planning requirements. Building regulations prohibits the construction of structure 30 meters from the road center line along class A roads, as well as major class B roads. Also the regulations prohibits construction of structures 20 meters from road center in minor class B, class C and D.

The picture below is of Lower Moyeni. The commercial area of Quthing.

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Satellite View of Lower Moyeni

To show the seriousness of encroachment in the road reserve at Lower Moyeni commercial area I used QGIS to show buildings that are in the 20 meters buffer of secondary road in the picture below. Polygons which are deep green in colour illustrates buildings in the road reserve which is shown in a brownish colour.

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QGIS rendition of the encraochment problem

 

There are a number of reasons why people build in the road reserves. Thus, people want a house or any structure in an accessible location, and preferably near the access roads. Moyeni has few access roads which could be seen as one short fall for that small town causing people to occupy road reserves. Poor urban planning is another reason. Towns and settlements grow haphazardly, with building concentrated along the road. People go ahead and put on structures without any consultation from planning authorities.

There are risks to this, as such areas are prone to accidents, property could be destroyed, less privacy and people may be injured or loss of lives. Living far from road reserves can minimise accidents.

OpenStreetMap being an open source and free to use gives anyone chance to create maps and use apps like Mapbox, and so can be of much help in planning towns and villages. Making sure there are road access everywhere.

OSM and understanding drought

There is a serious drought affecting a number of districts in Lesotho, which has made the Government declare a national emergency. It mainly affects subsistence farmers who depend solely on agriculture, but in the short-term people in towns other than Maseru are inconvenienced. A drop in production of staple food (maize) would lead to food insecurity and famine for these farmers. Thus, the country may need food aid, as food prices for other produce would rise beyond affordability to every Mosotho.

Recent effects of the Drought in Lesotho

Recent effects of the Drought in Lesotho

The drought has hit Lesotho hard and has dried up most rivers in the country. In Quthing, the Qomoqomong river suppies the town with drinking water, but currently there is water rationing because it is so dry you can see the river-bed, and so some villages have had no water for days.

Changing climate patterns are the cause of the current drought, because normally the winter months (June and July) are normally the only months with low rainfall. However, the weather now in January is hot, with strong winds, but low precipitation. These are the combined conditions that which affect nature and humans negatively.

Average Monthly Rainfall in Lesotho

Average Monthly Rainfall in Lesotho

Normally Lesotho has a lot of rainfall but there is a lack of infrastructure which could perhaps store water, which would be useful in drought times like this. So without a large enough reserve the only option is to ration water, and have tankers supplying water to communities with acute shortage.

There are long-term plans of dam constructions at community level which at the moment can’t be effective. Drilling boreholes and refurbishment of water treatment plants to improve their efficiency is a valid medium term measure.

Katse Dam Lesotho

Katse Dam Lesotho

OpenStreetMap could help identify new water supplies within areas affected by drought. OSM data of obviously sees aquifiers (rivers and streams), which in turn could be useful in identifying available springs. Looking at the rivers and streams as a network could help us exploring where more of Lesotho’s abundant rainwater could be stored. It is this which could assist us in making plans to locate more water sources to build more reservoirs easily without pipelines to move them around the country or outside it. Streams, rivers, and ponds are all tagged in OSM and can be downloaded and analysed in QGIS as networks.

Can OSM data help Lesotho solve this problem? Maybe we will try when the data is all validated.

Use of apps in Mapillary phones make #MapLesotho enjoyable.

Yesterday I travelled from Quthing to Mphaki via Mt. Moorosi and then back to Quthing. The purpose of my visit there was to inspect the two community council office sites being constructed at Mt. Moorosi and Mphaki.

Mount Moorsi

Mount Moorsi

Having won a phone loaded with useful mapping apps in the Mapillary challenge this was my first long journey to test out some of the apps. All of these apps, in one way or another help us to #MapLesotho.

Mphaki

Mphaki

OpenStreetMap users can use OSM Tracker to take a trip and then capture numerous waypoints. These are uploaded into OSM without too much use of my roaming data allowance. These are two traces I took yesterday here and here. These traces are available to everyone in OSM who uses JOSM.

 

My .gpx trace captured with my OSM Tracker App

My .gpx trace captured with my OSM Tracker App

Sometimes when you use hotosm and bing satellite to #MapLesotho and you try to trace features through areas that could not be seen with satellite imagery because of clouds, trees, shadows, buildings etc.. having a GPS trace is very useful. Also there can be a surprising variation with some imagery with Bing in that tiles don’t line up or have a visible “join” or “crease”.

Problematic Bing imagery with clouds

Problematic Bing imagery with clouds

You at least can see whether you need to off-set slightly. When there are several paths, tracks converging in an area and the soil is dry it makes it difficult to pick out the middle of the track, so using the GPS helps and the correct route of the path or road is now easy to see.

I am excited about #MapLesotho all over again because now it seem that we have multiple technologies, including now mobile technology converging to help us quicken up the work and be more accurate.

Queen of #MapLesotho

The first time I heard about openstreetmap (OSM) was in February 2015 when I attended workshop held at Maseru Sun. The workshop was organised by Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, with the training provided by Fingal County Council under a memorandum agreement to help exchange technical skills between Ireland and Lesotho planning system.

Tshedy Thobei Letsie

Tshedy Thobei Letsie

Being in that workshop I learned that OSM is a free, worldwide map populated by over a million mappers and it includes buildings, roads and natural features that make up any map. I was an easy convert. On hearing about the objectives of #MapLesotho I soon realised that Lesotho needed to be mapped, as the maps in Lesotho are outdated and lack details. Often those maps don’t show full road networks, or place names and new buildings. Not having good maps is a big limitation on planning in Lesotho, and while the lack of maps are not the only cause of that in my experience as an Assistant Physical Planner, it is the beginning of the problem.

I believe OSM will help us correct the mistakes, and thus making sure our Mountain Kingdom is accessible, better laid out and designed to manage the human needs and our landscape. The Government itself is unmoved by all of the ramifications of how we develop and build on our plots of land in this country, and having something we can download and analyse will help tackle that for sure.

Out of Copyright maps of Lesotho

Out of Copyright maps of Lesotho

I began mapping from February, and the speed and dedication increased every time. I was trained to use several technical mapping tools, however I have been using Java Open Street Map (JOSM) because I found it to be user friendly as I could edit without a constant internet connection.
I took part in several mapathons, in Mohale’s Hoek Urban Council, Maseru Sun Cabanas, and lastly Qacha’s Nek Urban Council. Other than that I make it a habit to at least map a little every day. As the graph shows I have been the highest mapper since June and currently my edits are above 100,000 since February. This has made my peers nickname me “The Queen of Lesotho Mapping”.

Timeline of Tshedy
If I have one short-term hope for the future, it’s to have everyone involved in Planning recognised as being a mapper and supported to become that. I would also like to have something to be proud of, that Lesotho gets a name for being the first nation to embrace OSM in all sectors