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Over 100 colleagues support SEED’s ‘Mapathon’ event

(8 December 2017)

Last week, the first in a series of ‘mapathons’, held by the School of Environment, Education and Development’s (SEED) Geography Department, brought together over 100 volunteers to create maps of previously unmapped areas of Uganda, to aid  humanitarian work. The maps being created, in this case of the Acholi region of northern Uganda, will help locate people affected by the country’s 30-year civil war, who are living with ‘major limb loss’.

Following the war, thousands of people have been left without one or more of their arms and legs, and funding has been secured from the Arts and Humanities and Medical Research Councils to build a clinic and mobile workshop to create prosthetic limbs and fit them to people for free, enabling them to work. Further funds are currently being sought to fit limbs to hundreds or thousands more victims, as well as address numerous other endemic post-conflict health issues encountered in this region.

One of the greatest challenges to this research is the lack of detailed maps, making it difficult to model population distribution, understand the level of requirement for prosthetic limbs and orthopaedic care, and access the people who can benefit from healthcare provision.

The research project is being led by Dr Jonny Huck, Lecturer in Geographical Information in SEED. He said: “Last week’s event saw 100 volunteers arrive from within and beyond Geography, including staff and students at all levels of study. It was wonderful to see how many people were willing to give up their time to help produce these vital maps (including some entire seminar groups arriving together!) and we hope that the event series continues to grow and include more volunteers from elsewhere in the University.”

Along with Jonny, the mapathon was organised by SEED colleagues Cait Robinson, Garrett Wolf, Patrick Reynolds and Chris Perkins. The volunteers kept up their energy levels during the event thanks to 28 pizzas that were kindly provided by the Geography Student Experience Fund.

Jonny added: “Mapathons are a simple and enjoyable way to do some real good in the world, and we would be delighted to see more volunteers at the next one. You can also map from home, simply go to and have a go. Even if you can only spend a few minutes, it’s well worth having a go, every little helps!”

  • If you would like to find out more about upcoming mapathons, or about the ongoing research into healthcare provision in post-conflict Uganda, please contact Dr Jonny Huck.

You can also keep an eye on the MCGIS research group Twitter feed for updates: @UoM_MCGIS.