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An extreme citizen science approach to digital mapping in Ethiopia

Stevenson, Edward; Moreu, Marcos; Tekle, Dessalegn

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Marcos Moreu

Dessalegn Tekle


Historically, mapping has been predominantly a tool of colonial and state power, representing reality primarily in ways useful to administrators and extractive projects. However, laypeople have long made their own maps and used them in resistance to forces that ignored claims to customary territory. The features that distinguish this approach from the standard citizen science model are, first, that the ends to which data collection is directed are determined by or co-created with the community of users; and second, that rather than targeting people with high levels of digital literacy, the approach includes collaborators regardless of literacy. The work took place in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo region, where there is a long history of maps being used as tools of state power, and a more recent history of participatory mapping by indigenous people and their allies. The authors’ aim was to explore the potential of a digital mapping process that responded to indigenous people’s priorities, and in which locals could take a leading role regardless of their levels of literacy.


Stevenson, E., Moreu, M., & Tekle, D. (2022). An extreme citizen science approach to digital mapping in Ethiopia. [No known commissioning body]

Report Type Project Report
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 23, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Oct 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 10, 2022
Additional Information Publisher: Stockholm Environment Institute
Type: monograph
Subtype: project_report


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