FUTA YouthMappers' Workshop Explores Impact of Power on Health Care Delivery
75 Young Nigerians from eight Universities and experts from the United States of America, Malawi and Nigeria converged in Akure, Ondo State between October 1 and 7, 2023 for a workshop on the impact of power supply on health care delivery systems in underserved areas. The workshop, a critical step in launching a Power Africa project, under the aegis of USAID and YouthMappers International, a global network of university student-led chapters dedicated to coordinating and executing mapping initiatives in response to worldwide development needs, trained students in healthcare facility electricity status data collection and the profound impact of urbanization on local climate and air quality using Akure as a case study.
The facilitator of the workshop, who is also the Deputy Director of West African Service Centre for Adapted Land Use, WASCAL, Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA Professor Ifeoluwa Balogun, said the objective of the workshop with the theme YouthMappers Open Mapping for Heat and Health Workshop was “to build the capacity of Nigerian university students in Open Street Mapping (OSM) and to enhance their skills in modern day mapping tools such as Mappilary and Kobo Collect.” He said students were trained in healthcare facility electricity status data collection as the participants engaged with healthcare professionals across various medical facilities, and got their permission to map these centres and capture photographs of their electrical infrastructure. To achieve the ultimate goal, updated information on where healthcare facilities are located, as well as the state of their current power supply was accessed. The workshop thus serves as a pilot project in Nigeria with the USAID/GeoCenter’s (GeoCenter) YouthMappers program (YM) with the data collected significantly contributing to knowledge of healthcare infrastructure and electricity access in underserved areas.
A co-founder of the Youthmappers International, Chad Belvins, who is also Technical Advisor of the group, took the participants through the significance of incorporating Mapillary, a platform offering access to street-level imagery. He elucidated the functioning of Mapillary and outlined effective methods for capturing street-level images leading to healthcare centers in Akure, Ondo State. He said the workshop has engendered meaningful global learning experience in the participants and using them as enumerators in the pilot project brought out the potentials of the students. He described the young Nigerians who participated in the workshop as amazing saying they showed unwavering enthusiasm to learn and get the job done during the practical field work.
The Communications Director of Youth Mappers International Zola Manyungwa, from the University of Malawi, who spoke in the same vein, said the young Nigerians who attended the workshop showed readiness to learn. She said they gained more insights in team work and effective communication. One of the trainers, Abdulrahaman Al Samad, GIS specialist from the Arizona State University, USA described Nigeria as a country with huge potentials with its youth ready to learn new things. He said with the workshop it’s been shown that effective power supply and viable alternative come into play in health care delivery.
The Vice Chancellor of FUTA, Professor Adenike Oladiji, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Development, Professor Sunday Oluyamo, said the workshop has shown the potentials of young Nigerians who if properly guided will continue to make great contributions to the Nigerian project. “In FUTA we don’t just teach our students but we are also training them to become relevant to their community and the larger society and be able to hold their own on the global stage,” the Vice Chancellor said.
One of the participants, Victor Ademoyero, a student of FUTA, who presently holds the position of YouthMappers Regional Ambassador for Global Technical Support, said the workshop in Akure, Nigeria, highlights the network's commitment to empowering future leaders through geospatial solutions. According to Ademoyero, “As students share their newfound knowledge and enthusiasm, they are driving positive change and fostering access to vital services, envisioning a better world shaped by mapping. The ultimate goal is to validate the official healthcare facility data registry and incorporate electrification status”. He was optimistic that students will return to their universities, sharing knowledge and continuing healthcare facility mapping efforts.
YouthMappers is a global network of university student-led chapters dedicated to coordinating and executing mapping initiatives in response to worldwide development needs. The main mission is to generate openly accessible geospatial data and information, fostering experiential learning, leadership development, and global impact.
Over the years FUTA students have become major players in the activities of the Youthmappers International. The FUTA chapter is a three-time consecutive winner of the YouthMappers Mapping Metrics Award and the Best Blog Post of the year 2020. In January 2023, three students of FUTA were selected as YouthMappers Leadership Fellows at the YouthMappers Summit in Montego Bay, Jamaica. And in July, 2023, two FUTA students, Bukola Babalola and Victor Akinmoyero, won in a global contest of 75 past YouthMappers Leadership Fellows which produced 13 winners globally, to become YouthMappers Regional Ambassadors for Africa.