Humanitarian OSM Team/Pakistan Tharparkar Drought

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Tharparkar Drought, Sindh, Pakistan

Background Information

Location Map of Sindh, Pakistan

Since the beginning of March 2014, severe shortages of food and water have been reported in Tharparkar District in Pakistan's south-east Sindh province. A number of children have reportedly died of malnutrition. The area has not received any significant rainfall since the end of 2013. Tharparkar has been declared calamity-hit by the Government of Sindh and PKR 18.6 million have been released for immediate relief. See these reports from ECHO: and from the Government of Pakistan:

Tharparkar desert in Sindh is the largest desert of Pakistan and the eighteenth largest in the world with an area of 22,000 square kilometres.

Tharparkar district is divided into four talukas, Nangarparkar, Chhachhro, Diplo and Mithi, with its headquarters in Mithi city. There are about 2,400 villages in district Tharparkar with a population of 1.5 million

Affected areas are as follows: Mithi, Chachro, Dahli, Diplo, Islamkot and Nagar Parkar (19,638 Sq Km).

It is reported that nearly 121 have died during the drought in the last three months, according to the Mithi taluka hospital. While the Sindh government has only confirmed roughly half that number of fatalities, 32 children died in the month of February alone in the area, due to malnutrition

Aid is desperately needed in this area and mapping is needed of areas with habitation and access roads.

See Interactive map at

Mapping Required

To assist in the delivery of Aid to affected people, the following need to be mapped using Bing Imagery, which has excellent coverage over the affected area:

Rural Population Areas

       Tags: landuse= residential

Roads allowing access to the Identified population areas (see Highway_Tag_Africa)

               highway=primary, surface=dirt
               highway=primary, surface=paved
               highway=tertiary, surface=dirt
               highway=tertiary, surface=paved
       Main road to village/town
               highway=unclassified, surface=dirt
               highway=unclassified, surface=paved

Other Infrastructure:

      Tags: Airport, see Key:aeroway

Man Made Water Sources, including Drilled Wells in Lake Beds or other places

      Note: If the well is in a Dry Lake Bed, please map the well AND the lake bed.

Other Water Sources (waterways, lakes, ponds, etc)

               natural=water, intermittent= yes/no

How to get something you Tagged Checked by a More Experienced Mapper

               fixme=..... (a brief description of the issue)
               (add this as an additional tag to your assessment of the tags needed)


   Save with credit to HotOSM and Bing. Comment the changeset with:
   Tharparker, Sindh, Pakistan, #hotosm-task-479

Mapping Tips

Blake Giradot has compiled some excellent photos User:Bgirardot/West_African_HOT_Mapping_Tips showing the different types of features and how to tag them

To help with mapping coordination, if you use JOSM, there is a really neat Plugin Called GeoChat that allows you to see any other mappers working close by and chat with them.

Mapping in the desert can be confusing. It is easy to confuse dirt tracks with waterways, gully's for ponds, walled compounds with fields, etc

Here are some tips to help, please feel free to add more if you find useful information to help others:

Note: See the media section below for links to images that show the area, compounds, waterways, roads, tracks. villages, etc so you can get a feel for what you are seeing on the Bing Satellite Imagery

  • A good thing to remember is that pretty much anything that is a circle is likely to be man made and worth looking closely at.
  • Look for the Green Fields in the Bing Imagery. especially in the more remote areas, you will generally fined one or more compounds around these. (The Bing Imagery was taken in better times).
  • Finding isolated towns is often easier by following tracks. Often you will see tracks converging together, this is often a sign of a village close by.
  • In some areas, look for a ring of trees, or some times, groups of these. Houses are often located within these tree rings and are hard to spot
  • Most of the square Fields usually have one or more huts or dwellings associated with them. Thease appear to be the homes of the fioelds owners or the people working the field. Look for the ring of trees or walled compound surrounding the fields. Sometimes you may find them located inside the field itself.
  • River Beds are usually a location for sub surface water and may be used in the future for locating new wells. Many fields have water sources associated with them. They may show as ponds of water at low points in the field. Tag these river beds and ponds as natural=water, intermittent= yes/no. Tag these as intermittent=yes if they appear to be sub surface (ie: green grass but no water evident), or may dry up during the year. Use intermittent=no if it is an obvious permanent water source like a river.

  • In your selected Task Manager Area, it is suggested that you map in the following order:
  • 1. residential areas - at a reasonable zoomed out level, search for the larger groups of houses/compounds. They will be quite obvious. Place a Poly around the group of houses and tag as landuse=residential
    2. Search for any Primary or Tertiary Roads that may interconnect towns/cites and tag highway=primary or tertiary with the appropriate surface tag
    3. Start searching for the tracks that connect the areas you have found. You will probably need to be zoomed in a lot. Often it is better to zoom out to get a general idea of where the tracks go, then zoom in and trace the most likely track. Tag as highway=unclassified with the appropriate surface tag.
    4. Try and connect the population areas with more than one track. This will permit routing on a GPS without having to always return to a main road and will make for more efficient aid deliveries.
    5. As you are zoomed in, scan for isolated hamlets/compounds. This area has many scattered all over the place. Tag these as landuse=residential and try and place a track from the closest larger group to these.
    6. Look for water sources, especially rivers, dried up river beds, ponds, lakes, wells, pipelines and water towers.
    7. In areas that have no roads or residential areas already tagged, zoom in and scan left to right looking for the isolated settlements. They can generally be easily seen as a round wall with one or more buildings in side. Tag these as landuse=residential

    Screenshot from JOSM showing the tagging Scheme needed

    To help you edit in JOSM, presets are available courtesy of Will Skora.

    To use the Presets, please follow these instructions:

    The Preset includes tags for HOT's mapping and the JOSM map style is an alternative map styling in JOSM so you can better visualize what you're tracing.
    Installation is quite simple: for both of them: Go to JOSM's preferences, select the icon the 3rd top icon
    Then go to the presets page and select the HDM preset;
    For the Josm Map styling, select the 'Map Paint Style' and select 'HDM'

    Validating Tips

    Please refer to Validating Data for information on Validating Tiles.

    Information about this Humanitarian Mapping Project (HMP)

    What is a HMP

    Currently the HOT Community responds to crisis's in one of two ways. The first way is a "Humanitarian Mapping Project" (HMP)and the second way is as a formal "Activation"

    The formal Activation is a High Priority, Time constrained response, whilst the HMP's are designed to preempt a potential request for an Activation at some stage in the future.

    A HMP will have a member of the HOT Community as the assigned "Lead" for the Project. That individual may be supported by one or more additional members of the Community to distribute the work load. The lead is responsible for establishing the project, monitoring the developments in the media, modifying the project based on the ongoing crisis developments, and managing the Wiki and Task manager side of the project.

    Project Lead and Coordination

    Mark Cupitt (User:Markcupitt), supported and coached by Andrew Buck and Pierre Beland, is coordinating this HMP (Humanitarian Mapping Project). Regions requiring mapping are coordinated through the use of the HOT Tasking Manager.

    Mark can be contacted on Mumble and lurks on IRC on the #hot channel. Generally available between UTC 01:00 and UTC 04:00 and sometimes UTC 18:00 and UTC 20:00.

    Mapping Priority

    • Please choose from highest priority first
      Job No.      Priority Location What to map Imagery Source Task Mapping Status Task Validation Status
    Job 462 Medium Sindh, Pakistan residential, roads, waterways, wells Bing Superceded by Job 479 with better Tileset Not Started
    Job 479 Medium Sindh, Pakistan residential, roads, waterways, wells Bing Started Not Started

    History of this HMP

    Reactivity of the OSM Community

    • March 24 - HOT Members begin monitoring news reports about the Drought and informing community.
    • March 25 - a HOT Humanitarian Mapping Project (HMP) was established
    • March 26 - This Wiki Page was created
    • March 27 - HOT Tasking Manager Job 462 Created
    • March 27 - HMP put on hold pending completion of 2014 West Africa Ebola Response Activation
    • March 28 - Project Made available to the Community in Tasking Manager and Request for Mapping Email sent.
    • March 29 - 2 Tasks marked as complete
    • March 30 - Decision taken to make the area more relevant and create smaller tiles on a new Task
    • March 30 - Task 479 Created and Task 462 Closed
    • April 8 - Mapping Area further reduced in size to limit it To Tharparkar Desert Area only
    • April 12 - Approximate 45% of the area has been mapped
    • April 13 - released a new JOSM Validation Style for trial on this HMP
    • May 5 - mapping over 60% complete, email requesting mapping re-sent

    About HOT

    • To learn more about the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), explore more of our wiki-pages (root: HOT) or our website We are a global community of mostly volunteers, we are also a US Nonprofit able to contract with organizations (email info at to contact our staff), we are also a 501-c-3 charitable organization.

    How YOU can Contribute and Help

    Tools and Services Available

    The Tasking Manager and the JOSM editor are essential parts of this Project. As new imagery are available, new jobs are added to the Tasking Manager. It has allowed HOT to coordinate efforts of mappers around the world. Some days there were more then 200 simultaneous mappers registered on the Task Manager and editing mainly with the JOSM editor. Online editors are also used for less intensive mapping. offers learning material for beginners and more advanced mappers.

    New Mappers

    • Most of our volunteer needs are for remote OSM contributors, visit to get started.

    Mappers with Experience

    Map and Data Services

    About OpenStreetMap

    OpenStreetMap offers an online map which is updated by the minute. Various tools and services allow data extracts for GIS specialists, Routable Garmin GPS data, OSMAND, and other device-compatible downloads. With an internet connection, regular syncing is possible with open access to the community contributed data as it comes in, with OpenStreetMap's bulk data downloads ideal for use offline. In addition, maps can also be printed to paper.

    Browse the Project Area to get a feel for the data that is currently available. Different map styles including an Humanitarian style can be selected on the right side, and some data may not render (appear) on the map, but could be exported from the underlying database (See export section below).

    Paper Maps

    Poster size Maps can be printed

    • FieldPapers Paper Maps with grid for field survey,
    • MapOSMatic Large Paper Maps with grid, street index and POI

    Exporting OpenStreetMap data

    See Downloading data for instructions on getting large scale map data. See Shapefiles if you need this format to export to GIS tools.

    Other possibiliities

    • Navigation Offline Data for Android smartphones : {Conversion procedure}
      (install by copying to OsmAnd directory on your Android device). With limited communications in a disaster region, it is recommended to download offline data before travelling to this region.

    Media Coverage and Reference Material