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Voices of Youth Maps: Mapping a city's risks in Haiti

An innovative mapping project helps young people in Haiti build safer and healthier communities while gaining valuable knowledge and skills.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
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I read about this project done by UNICEF, the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population and a local health organization GHESKIO. The project aimed to collect data and map vulnerability factors in communities (including risks for HIV and diseases) while also empowering young people by making them key actors in the process, increasing awareness about diseases and STDs and also sharing with other youth their own knowledge.

The mapping project:

"24 adolescents from the neighbourhoods of Cité Plus and Village de Dieu in Port-au-Prince [Haiti] (..) participated in the Voices of Youth Maps initiative in July 2012. (...) Participants used smartphones to record the location of health and sanitation concerns, medical facilities and unsafe areas, and through geotagged photos and videos, a real-time portrait could be drawn of risk factors in these neighbourhoods."

The context and issues:

"Poor sanitation and lack of adequate medical infrastructure are major factors putting young people in underprivileged neighbourhoods at risk for infectious disease. In addition, insecurity and violence increase vulnerability among children and youths.  (...) 

Through the maps initiative, positive steps can be taken towards minimizing the many vulnerability factors identified.

“The data provided by the digital mapping of risks will guide efforts to improve the health of young people,” says Dr. Guirlaine Raymond Charite, Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and Population.

Learning about health and technology

One of the participant, "Daniela  [17 years old] says that the training provided not only knowledge about HIV but also skills she can use to empower other young people and advocate for positive change in her community.

“I learned a lot about HIV and the different risk factors,” she says. “But I also learned how to use GPS and mobile technology to report on pertinent issues, and most importantly to represent other youth,” she says."

"UNICEF Country Representative in Haiti Edouard Beigbeder says, “This type of digital tool enables youth, particularly the most vulnerable, to weigh in more heavily on public debates and hence to promote positive social change.”

On the mapping project

Port-au-Prince was the third city in the world to participate in this digital mapping exercise, after Nairobi and Rio de Janeiro. 

Voices of Youth Maps is one of the digital engagement initiatives of UNICEF’s global platform Voices of Youth, that aims to use new technology and social media to support youth advocacy and activism.

Insights from Voices of Youth Maps: How might we use technology to empower young people while increasing awareness about sexual health and collecting data on specific communities?


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Photo of Eunice Kajala

Thanks for your contribution. In addition, google this article: Use of GIS systems for planning HIV Prevention for High risk youths : Catherine G. Geanuracus , Shyne Cunningham, George Weiss, AMJ Public Health 2007 Nov, 97(11) : 1974-1981

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thank you Eunice. I will definitely go and check this paper. Any insights you have from reading it? Thanks!

Photo of Eunice Kajala

It is about a study using GIS and Mapping planning HIV prevention to the most at high risk youths.Public Health Researchers are shifting their focus from models of disease aetiology (HIV) that focuses exclusively on individual risk factors e.g condom use, number of sexual partners to models that also consider the complex and powerful effects of the social physical environment.A number of studies have observed that prevalence and incidence of STIs and HIV tend to cluster in geographically hyperendemic areas .These areas are often characterized by high levels of racial /ethnic segregation, low social economic status and high rates of homicides and other criminal activities.GIS supports the integration and analysis of large information from different social-demographic characteristics.Maps produced with GIS software offer a unique method of visualizing an array of community characteristics, communicating them to non-technical audiences and incorporating them into planning process of HIV counseling and testing.