How OpenStreetMap can help Nepal

The devastating earthquake in Nepal has impacted a large area, including the capital of Kathmandu, a city of over one million, and the surrounding regions. The earthquake has also caused large avalanches on Mt. Everest during a busy hiking season. Getting first aid, medical supplies, food and water in a timely manner to people in need is a crucial problem. Open source collaborative mapping can assist by identifying working and broken roads and identifying where aid is needed.

OpenStreetMap has been critical in previous humanitarian efforts, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team (HOT) organizes project data and personnel to track problem locations, find and digitize remote imagery, and provide portable digital and paper maps for humanitarian relief. Over 1800 mappers from around the world have already responded to assist with the effort.

The updated Kathmandu in OpenStreetMap
The updated Kathmandu in OpenStreetMap

Locally, Nama Budhathoki and the Kathmandu Living Labs are spearheading the effort on the ground. They have created a website to identify where aid is needed and where problems have occurred. They are providing information to aid workers including the Red Cross on an hourly basis. The local knowledge, in addition to the work of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team, is crucial to the effort.

Kathmandu Living Labs

You can donate to the Kathmandu Living Labs project here.

You can donate to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team here.

For an updated list of places that are accepting donations to assist those in need in Nepal, please visit the Lion’s Roar site here.


Neis, Pascal, Peter Singler, and Alexander Zipf. Collaborative mapping and Emergency Routing for Disaster Logistics–Case studies from the Haiti earthquake and the UN portal for Afrika. na, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.