The MANNHEIMER MAPATHONS ("MAMAPA") project has two specific goals: to support the integration of immigrants (resident in the Rhein-Neckar region of Germany) and to contribute to international humanitarian initiatives.

By providing introductory training in modern cartography through immigrant participation in locally-organized Mapathons, both of these ends can be served simultaneously.

Taking part in Mapathon events -- a method in humanitarian cartography proven extremely effective in supporting the activity of humanitarian relief staff "out in the field" -- immigrants have the opportunity to:

  • acquire basic knowledge of, and initial skills in, the fields of geography and modern cartography (and Information Technology, in general) . Repeated participation can deepen initial knowledge and may even be the first steps toward broader career development.
  • augment on-going efforts toward integration in German society through direct contact with native participants during the Mapathons and the accompanying language practice.
  • make a concrete humanitarian contribution. In particular, the target areas selected for mapping will -- whenever possible -- be chosen so that the nature of their contribution may be directly appreciated. Whenever possible, this can be accomplished by, for example, selecting to map an area of the world where refugee issues are most acute or by selecting areas located in or near the home countries of the participants.

The special organization of the project mapathons, in which immigrants are paired with local residents at each workstation --  working in tandem -- to discuss and map together, contributes to breaking down stereotypical thinking and building mutual trust.

The project is supported by CartONG, a French NGO in Chambéry, France, with over 10 years of experience in the field of humanitarian cartography. In the Rhein-Neckar Region, MANNHEIMER MAPATHONS has been well received. Currently, the project manager works closely with the Goethe Institut, the Internationalen Bund and the Mannheimer Abendakademie.  The latter has most generously made its infrastructure available to the project. The presence of members of the DisasterMappers group (Geographic Institute, Heidelberg University) adds importantly to the didactic quality of the Mapathons. Within the local public administration, the directors of the Integration and Migration Authorities from Mannheim und Ludwigshafen have notably contributed to the project's success.

Watch: What is a Mapathon?