I’ve been invited to go to Jordan to consult on a new OSM project involving Jordan’s Royal Scientific Society, the local Youthmappers chapter in Amman, and the Princess Sumaya University, coordinated/commissioned by the UNESCO research chair, Science Communicator Iain Stewart.

The location is Asraq (think Lawrence of Arabia, and ancient Petra; the area sometimes called the ‘Cradle of Civilisation’. Over the centuries, the area has been settled and travelled by many people - from silk-road traders to Moses’s biblical journey, incoming 11th century Druze, to modern syrian refugees.

The wetlands have different cultural significance and inspire/necessitate different cultural practices for many ethnicities, and the now desert has gone through climatic and human-influenced changes which exemplify one of Jordan - and the planet’s - biggest challenges: water supply.

As with so many Disaster Risk environemnts, the problem is compound in nature: climate change has turned once fertile wetlands into desert, whilst Jordan’s excellent record of refugee hosting has meant massive population growth. Result: decreased supply and increased demand for water supply.

I’m looking forward to working with diverse local voices to understand how OpenStreetMap might present some solutions, and am expecting a fascinating mix attitude, behaviour and shared-interest around Water Resource mapping and with Community Asset mapping.

Informed by Public Health (NHS) Wales community mapping (COVID Resilience and Food Deserts), this pilot hopes to look at both logistical resource allocation and cultural behaviours around those resources, whilst allowing the community to have an ‘auto-ethnographic’ hand in practical, participatory solutions. Hopefully, the better public understanding of these under-represented resource-poor communities made vulnerable by the changing world might reveal digital answers to some age-old practical challenges. Any supporters/interested OSM-ers are very encouraged to get involved by getting in touch. My current challenge is editing in English, not Arabic. Watch this space!

Location: Al Azraq, Azraq Sub-District, Zarqa Qasabah, Zarqa, Jordan

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