Sunday, May 01, 2016

Inspiring speech by Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim at the Signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement

PARIS, 22 April 2016 - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited all world leaders to a signing ceremony on 22 April at UN Headquarters for the historic climate agreement that was reached in Paris in December last year. At the request of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, UN-NGLS led a process for civil society to apply to attend or speak during the opening session of the signing ceremony, involving facilitation of a civil society Selection Committee, who reviewed more than 200 applications received. Ultimately, Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim from the Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT) in Chad was selected as the civil society speaker for the opening ceremony of the event.

Hindou is a member of the Executive committee of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), for which she is a representative of the Congo Basin Region, with a background in indigenous peoples' rights and environment protection with the three Rio Conventions (Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification) with multiple responsibilities.

She has organized a series of international workshops on scientific and traditional knowledge systems in partnership with UNESCO, IPACC, CTA, CI and the government of Chad.

Below is the last of a series of three film productions concerning Hindou's the activities centred on merging traditional and scientific knowledge systems and related participatory three-dimensional mapping (P3DM) activities in Chad.

Three-way dialogue on climate change from CTA on Vimeo.

Among the many bus stations of N’djamena the capital city of Chad, travellers coming from the countryside know where to unpack their concerns. The path of Aladji Ibrahim leads to AFPAT, an organisation which represents the rights of Indigenous Peoples, in this case the Bororo herders. Here is where the story starts, a deeply touching one. A story centred around climate change adaptation, where the manufacturing and use of a 3 dimensional model helps bridging the gap between traditions and modernism, local producers and government officials, village elders and scientists, local communities and public powerhouses. Last but not least this film documents how participatory three-dimensional mapping (P3DM) can facilitate the management and mitigation of conflicts over shared natural resources. It shows also that P3DM can support the promotion of human rights and represent a formidable medium for facilitating dialogue among development partners.

French version of the film.

Other film productions part of the series:

Dangers in the bush, map of good faith:
Climate Governance: A matter of survival for nomadic pastoralists:

Further reading:

__________ 2012. Influencing regional policy processes in Climate Change Adaptation through the interaction of African pastoralist traditional knowledge and meteorological science; A Contribution to the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation. IPACC. 22 pg, September 2012

Documenting illegal land occupancy using drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles have the potential to empower indigenous communities to become equal partners in the efforts to safeguard their territories and natural resources. 

Throughout the Americas, indigenous forest communities’ territories face intensifying threats, as global demand increases for land and forest resources. Non-indigenous settlers and loggers illegally enter indigenous territories to poach valuable timber or to burn and clear large swaths of forest.  Emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – also known as drones – offer an unprecedented opportunity to empower communities to defend their territories and natural resources. UAV technology allows them to monitor their land in real time, obtain visual evidence of any trespass, and make claims based on this evidence.

Some of Panama’s indigenous communities already make use of UAVs to protect the rainforest. Nearly 70% of Panama’s remaining intact rainforest is governed by indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities see the forest as part of their culture and heritage, respecting and understanding its value and safeguarding it for future generations. Newcomers to the area tend to see the rainforest as something to be exploited in the short-term, particularly for felling valuable old-growth hardwoods and clearing forested areas for cattle ranching.

Panama’s indigenous communities began using UAVs in 2015 with the support of the Rainforest Foundation US and Tushevs Aerials. Tushevs Aerials is a small organisation that designs and builds UAVs and processes data into maps or digital 3D models. It provides training in any aspect of UAV construction, operation, and data use. Since the beginning of this project UAVs have successfully been used to document illegitimate land occupancy and illegal land occupancy and illegal logging by non-indigenous groups.

Armed settlers

The rampant deforestation in the Darien region of Panama perfectly illustrates this dynamic. Islands of rainforest have managed to resist outside pressure from settlers, thanks to the indigenous communities that inhabit and protect them. With the use of a custom-built fixed wing UAV, the Emberá peoples – near the community of Puerto Indio – could spot and survey over 200 hectares of converted forest that has been illegally occupied by cattle ranchers. The communities’ leaders were stunned to witness the extent of the damage. Prior to seeing the aerial imagery, they had thought that there were only about 50 hectares destroyed by illegal ranching.

The occupation and conversion of forested areas occurred several kilometres away from where the indigenous community lives. But because of tensions with the settlers, who are often armed and confrontational, they had not been able to enter the area and document the illegal ranching practices. Using the UAV allowed them to quickly and safely gather data that evidenced the trespass of their territories.

Tino Quintana, the cacique or traditional chief of the 440,000 hectares’ traditional territory, took the lead on presenting the results of the UAV survey to members of several other Emberá communities. These communities are now working together by using aerial imagery documentation to register official complaints with the regional authorities. The government has promised to remove the settlers, and the Emberá communities plan to reforest the area.

Documenting evidence

Governments are often faced with resource shortages, and are frequently unable to respond to all requests for intervention.  Spatially explicit UAV documentation of illegal logging and land occupancy helps government agencies prioritise their efforts, ensuring that a week-long field inspection will collect enough evidence to justify government intervention.

This experience generated further interest in UAV technology among indigenous communities in eastern Panama, inspiring other leaders to ask for UAV support. The Emberá and Wounaan General Congress, which oversees thousands of hectares of rainforest across 27 distinct territories, was given a DJI Phantom 3 Professional quadcopter by the Rainforest Foundation in November 2015. Wounaan leaders flew this UAV within the district of Platanares on the Pacific coast of Panama. The geo-referenced images proved that 10 hectares had recently been burned for cattle grazing in the middle of their territory.

Diogracio Puchicama, a Wounaan indigenous leader, who has been threatened by illegal loggers and settlers for several years, because of his efforts to protect 20,000 hectares of rainforest along the Pacific coast, submitted the UAV-generated documentation to the environmental authorities. Impressed by the accurate geo-referencing of the images documenting forest destruction, the Ministry of Environment promised to be more present in the area and enforce the law.

In late January 2016, Diogracio reported that the authorities had been patrolling the district of Platanares constantly, and that most of the settlers had been at least temporarily removed. ‘I have been denouncing illegal loggers in Platanares for over five years, and the authorities have done nothing, not moved a finger,’ Diogracio Puchicama noted. ‘Now, after they have realised that we have the drone, they are doing their job and enforcing the law. It’s a good sign.’

Protection of indigenous rights

Emberá and Wounaan communities are planning in partnership with the Rainforest Foundation US and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to fly UAVs in at least six more indigenous communities in Panama. They will use the imagery to raise awareness among local communities of the ongoing illegal and un-monitored forest destruction within their traditional territories and the need to document and denounce this destruction to the authorities. They will also use the aerial photographs to help Panamanians understand how important forests are, and the essential role that indigenous peoples have played in keeping them intact.

The experience from Panama illustrates that UAVs have the potential to alter the power balance in favour of indigenous communities’ own ability to protect, monitor, and report on their lands, territories, and natural resources. This technology empowers indigenous people to play an active role in safeguarding their lands and to become equal partners – rather than just beneficiaries – to government and civil society agencies, which are involved in conservation and rights’ protection.

Indigenous peoples’ communities, organisations, and their civil society partners in the region and beyond are now very interested in adopting UAVs for conservation or for the protection of indigenous rights and territories. There are further discussions with the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests regarding the use of UAVs in Central America and with an indigenous network in Bolivia. Indigenous communities in Guyana and Indonesia are already using UAVs for land mapping. Also in Africa the Shompole Maasai community in Kenya and a forester in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are interested in using the technology. This shows that the interest in UAVs is growing all around the globe for monitoring illegal land use in indigenous territory.

About the authors:

Nina Kantcheva Tushev ( is co-founder of Tushevs Aerials and indigenous peoples’ rights advisor at the UNDP. Tom Bewick ( is program manager at the Rainforest Foundation US. And Cameron Ellis ( is principal at Groundtruth Geographics.

Related Links:

Video that demonstrates how Dayaks in Indonesia make use of UAVs.

Article and video outlining a training in the use of UAVs with indigenous communities in Peru.

Source: ICT Update # 82

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Drones for Agriculture - Long awaited ICTUpdate issue now released

At CTA they started working on this issue in November 2015. Finally it is available in both English and French. Are you interested in the topic?  Follow @uav4ag on Twitter and join the community on

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Participatory 3D Modelling in Mapanas, Northern Samar, Philippines

Barangays Barangays Sta. Potenciana and Burgos in Northern Samar, Philippines constructed their Participatory 3D Models (P3DMs) with the help of friends from Citizen Disaster Response Centre (CDRC) Bobon, the Philippine Geographical Society and UNICEF Philippines.

Participatory 3D Modelling in Bobon, Northern Samar, Philippines

Barangays Dancalan, Sta. Clara and Arellano in Northern Samar, Philippines constructed their Participatory 3D Models (P3DMs) with the help of friends from Citizen Disaster Response Centre (CDRC) Bobon, the Philippine Geographical Society and UNICEF Philippines.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Participatory 3D Mapping for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines

For two weeks in rural Camarines Norte, two teams of geography majors from UP Diliman facilitated in the making of several Participatory 3D Maps.

Four towns including Labnig and Dalnac in the municipality of Paracale and San Felipe and Taba-taba in the municipality of Basud all had the chance to collectively construct their own 3D Maps that highlight the disaster histories, vulnerabilities and capacities of each town.

Video by Erwin Tolentino

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Être sur une carte veut dire exister : l'expérience des Saramaca

Les communautés Saramaca du Suriname cherchent la reconnaissance de leur savoir traditionnel par le gouvernement

Le 23 février 2016, 18 représentants de la communauté Saramaca issus des régions de Brownsweg et du cours supérieur du fleuve Suriname ont rencontré des décideurs politiques et des acteurs concernés à Paramaribo, la capitale du Suriname. La rencontre a été organisée par les peuples Saramaka afin de partager les résultats d’un processus de deux ans qui a mené à la visualisation et la documentation de leurs connaissances traditionnelles d’une vaste région.

Cartes générées en utilisant des données extraites d’un modèle 3D participatif à échelle 1:15 000 de la zone de Brownsweg (produites en novembre 2015), combinées à un modèle numérique d’élévation obtenu de la Fondation pour la gestion des forêts et le contrôle de la production, au Suriname.
Ont dit qu'une image vaut mille mots. Dans ce sens, les peuvent en effet être un moyen très efficace de transmettre des messages inhérents à la distribution ou accès aux ressources. En fait, le résultat tangible du processus consistait en une série de cartes physiques et numériques générées par la communauté – des cartes dont les délégués Saramaca se montrèrent très fiers.

Les cartes ainsi que les séries de données connexes furent produites en langue Saramaca, en anglais et en néerlandais lors de trois exercices de modélisation participative en trois dimensions (MP3D) organisés en 2014 et 2015. Les exercices impliquèrent 220 habitants, y compris des femmes, des jeunes et des personnes âgées. Un film documentaire sur le processus fut publié en 2015 en langue Saramaca, en anglais et en français.

Lors de la réunion, les leaders Saramaca ont souligné l'unicité des données que les communautés impliquées sont parvenues à rassembler, à géo-référencer et à visualiser en utilisant des technologies sophistiquées comme les systèmes d'information géographique (SIG). En bénéficiant du soutien de l'extérieur, les détenteurs de savoir ont été à même de partager leurs cartes mentales et leurs souvenirs, des apports fondamentaux pour peupler les modèles en 3D vierges.

Les représentants Saramaca ont attiré l'attention sur la pertinence et la précision des données, ainsi que leur accessibilité à de tierces parties à condition d'obtenir le consentement préalable à leur utilisation. « Nous avons créé cette carte pour qu'elle soit utilisée. Nous voulons que d'autres personnes l'utilisent. La seule chose que nous demandons c'est que les données ne soient pas utilisées sans nous impliquer », soulignait l'un des représentants de la communauté.

Les délégués Saramaca ont encouragé l'utilisation des données à des fins de planification spatiale et ont lancé un appel au gouvernement et aux investisseurs du secteur privé pour que ces derniers reconnaissent les Saramaca en tant que parties prenantes principales et, par conséquent, pour qu'ils les impliquent au maximum dans la planification des exploitations forestières et dans la gestion des zones protégées et des concessions aurifères situées dans le territoire Saramaca traditionnel.

Ils ont également préconisé la reproduction de processus de MP3D dans le reste du territoire Saramaca de façon à générer une carte complète des terres Saramaca traditionnelles. Pour ce faire, ils ont exhorté le gouvernement, les organisations de développement, le secteur privé et les ONG présentes à la réunion à lever les fonds nécessaires.

L'événement était organisé par Tropenbos International Suriname, WWF Guyanas et l'Association des autorités Saramaca. Outre Tropenbos International Suriname, les sponsors du projet comprenaient le Programme de microfinancements du Fonds pour l'environnement mondial (UNDP GEF-SGP) et le CTA. Les contributions de ces organisations ont été dûment reconnues. Les participants ont notamment décrit ces contributions comme du terreau fertile pour l'autonomisation de la communauté à travers la MP3D, un processus très novateur selon eux. Les participants ont également signalé que le processus de MP3D a inspiré d'autres communautés qui sont à présent en train de demander le soutien nécessaire à la mise en œuvre de processus de MP3D dans leurs territoires.

Restez connectés

Suivez @PPGIS sur Twitter ou avec le hashtag #P3DM
Visitez le site web du CTA sur les Systèmes d'information géographique participatifs (SIGP).
Inscrivez-vous au groupe de discussion en ligne sur DGroups (francophone).

Being on a map means to exist: the Saramaccan experience

Saramaccan communities in Suriname seek government’s recognition of their traditional knowledge

On 23 February 2016, 18 Saramaccan community representatives from the Brownsweg and Upper Suriname River areas met in the capital city, Paramaribo, with key stakeholders and policymakers. The meeting was organised by the Saramaccan Peoples to share the results of a two-year process which led to the visualisation and documentation of their traditional environmental knowledge over a vast area.

Maps generated using data extracted from the 1:15000 scale participatory 3D model of the Brownsweg area (manufactured in November 2015), combined with the digital elevation model obtained from the Foundation for Forest Management and Production Control, Suriname.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and maps may be even more effective in conveying messages when it comes to resource distribution and access. In fact the outcome of the process – which the Saramacca delegates proudly presented at the meeting – consisted of a series of community-generated physical and digital maps.

The maps and various data sets were produced in Saramaccan, English, and Dutch languages as a result of three Participatory 3D modelling (P3DM) exercises that took place in 2014 and 2015, involving 220 residents, including women, youth and the elderly. A film documentary about the process was released in 2015 in Saramaccan, English, and French.

Saramaccan leaders highlighted the uniqueness of the data the communities were able to collate, geo-reference and visualise using highly sophisticated technology, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Benefitting from external technical support, knowledge-holders were able to share their mental maps and memories which were used to populate blank 3D models.

The Saramaccan representatives drew attention to the relevance and accuracy of the data, and its accessibility to third parties, provided free prior informed consent for their use was given. "We made the map for it to be used. We want other people to make use of it. We only ask that the data is not used without involving us, the Saramaccan Peoples," concluded a community representative.

The Saramaccan delegates welcomed the use of the data for spatial planning purposes and called on the government and private investors to recognise them as key stakeholders and fully involve them when planning logging activities, protected area management and gold mining concessions within traditional Saramaccan lands.

They urged for the replication of P3DM processes in the rest of the Saramaccan territory so that a complete map of traditional Saramacca lands could be generated. To achieve this, they called on the government, development organisations, private sector, and NGOs present at the meeting to raise the necessary funds.

The event was hosted by Tropenbos International Suriname, WWF Guyanas and the Association of Saamaka Authorities.

In addition to Tropenbos International Suriname, project sponsors included the UNDP-GEF Small Grant Programme and CTA. Contributions by both organisations were duly acknowledged, with participants stating that their valuable contribution established a 'fertile ground' for community empowerment via P3DM which they considered to be a very innovative process. Participants also acknowledged that the P3DM process had inspired other communities who were now requesting support to deploy the P3DM process in their areas.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

River partners: Managing environment and disaster risk in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

River partners: Managing environment and disaster risk in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a video report on the disaster risk reduction project being implemented by the United Nations Environment Program, the Government of DRC and local communities, with the support of the European Union.

Flooding and soil erosion are major hazards that threaten the Lukaya River basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Located in the outskirts of Kinshasa, this basin is an important source of water supply for the capital. This pilot project will demonstrate how ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (eco-DRR) can be integrated into c devel
opment planning. Upstream and downstream river users are brought together to tackle disaster risk and development planning in a more integrated manner. Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) is used in the process.

Partenaires de la Rivière: Gestion de l'environnement et des risques de catastrophes en République Démocratique du Congo est une vidéo sur le projet de réduction de risques de catastrophes mis en oeuvre par le Programme de Nations Unies pour l'Environnement, le Gouvernement de la RDC et les communautés locales, avec le soutien de l'Union Européenne.

Les inondations et l'érosion du sol sont des aléas majeurs qui menacent le bassin de la rivière Lukaya en République Démocratique du Congo. Situé en périphérie de Kinshasa, le bassin est une source importante d'approvisionnement en eau pour la capitale. Ce projet pilote démontrera comment la réduction de risque de catastrophes à base d'écosystèmes (RRC-éco) peut être intégrée à la planification du développement de bassins-versants. Les usagers de la rivière en amont et en aval sont réunis pour aborder ensemble les problèmes de risque de catastrophes et de planification du développement, d'une manière plus intégrée. La cartographie participative en trois dimensions (MP3D) a été utilisée dans le processus.

Friday, March 04, 2016

IWD2016 - Celebrating women: A champion for the rights of indigenous people

An encounter with an innovative technique known as participatory three-dimensional modelling was to prove a turning point in the life of a young tribeswoman from rural Chad. She now travels the globe to advocate for the rights of her own and other indigenous communities, and to press for their voice to be heard in negotiations about climate change, on which their futures depend.

Growing up as part of the M'bororo people – traditional semi-nomadic and nomadic herders living in Chad and neighbouring countries – nothing could have prepared Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim for the turn her life would take once she was introduced to participatory mapping. At the time, she was a young woman, working to gain recognition of her people's rights, and especially for access to the natural resources that are critical to their livelihoods.

Participatory three-dimensional modelling (P3DM), or participatory mapping, brings together traditional knowledge from local communities about their landscapes and ecosystems with data on physical features, such as land elevation and sea depth. The result is a scaled and geo-referenced three-dimensional (3D) model, which can be a powerful tool for knowledge building and communication, as well as for gaining recognition of local communities' rights to be involved in decision-making that affects their natural resources.

Hindou's introduction to P3DM came through the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), a network of 150 indigenous peoples' organisations in 20 African countries. IPACC had been introduced to participatory mapping by CTA's P3DM expert, Giacomo Rambaldi, and supported in its use as a tool for gathering evidence for indigenous peoples' arguments in national and international negotiations.

A bitter conflict

Encouraged to learn about the practice through a P3DM exercise in Gabon, Hindou spent two weeks living with local pygmies and helping them to build a participatory 3D map of their jungle landscape. The pygmies had lost some of their hunting and fishing rights when a national park was created, and the mapping exercise succeeded in its goal of convincing the government that these indigenous people had a right to be consulted about decisions affecting their homeland.

Hindou was hooked.

"It was a long way away from my own community and very different, but I found the exercise exciting and interesting," said Hindou, who is Director of the Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT) and IPACC's Executive Committee representative for the Congo Basin region. "It was the first time I had seen all the intergenerational people mobilised – women, youths, men and elders. I realised that if we did this in my own community, it could help resolve a great many issues."

That chance came in 2012, when, with CTA support, a mapping exercise involving Hindou's own M'bororo people was organised in the southern district of Baïbokoum, the scene of conflicts between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers. Increasing scarcity of natural resources, especially water reserves, was being exacerbated by climate change and population growth, and the bitter contention between the two groups was threatening to spiral out of control.

Hindou was closely involved in the P3DM event, organising the workshop that preceded it, which brought together herders, scientists, UNESCO and World Meteorological Organization representatives as well as government officials for the first time. Once again, participatory mapping proved to be a winning approach. The model-making process enabled all players to have an overview of the contested area, highlighting where the farmers had barred the routes used by herders to take their cattle to water and identifying a range of solutions that would be acceptable to all.

The mapping exercise showed that indigenous peoples could play an effective role in decision-making, from which they had always been excluded in the past. And it gave a new sense of self-confidence to all members of the community, especially women.

"We took the opportunity to increase the capacity of women to express themselves, showing men that the women had a voice and that their opinions were sometimes more valuable than those of men – and the men accepted this," said Hindou. "As a result, women had a greater say in community affairs."

Powerful traditional knowledge

At a personal level, the mapping exercise also proved an eye opener for Hindou herself.

"The impact on me was huge. This was my community, so I knew all the traditional knowledge, but it helped me to understand things that didn't belong to my own generation," she recalls. "It changed my life forever."

Hindou now uses P3DM in all her work, to illustrate the importance of conserving traditional knowledge, how to marry it with scientific knowledge and using both to combat climate change and protect the environment.

Although her roots are still firmly anchored in her community, Hindou has become used to travelling the world to make presentations and put the indigenous people's case to high-ranking officials in climate-change negotiations. For the past 10 years, she has been a regular participant at meetings of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. She is Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples' Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC), which represents the interests of indigenous peoples throughout the world and presents these at COP negotiations.

"Climate change is a massive problem for indigenous people because we depend on the environment. For any indigenous people, from any corner of the world, livelihoods are linked to natural resources, for our food and medicine, for everything, so if there are floods or droughts the impact is greater for us," she said. "Of course, it is highly unusual for someone of my background to be travelling the world and speaking at conferences and negotiating. But for me, it is important to change the life of my community. I know my people are proud of what I am doing and I can never give up my work. I want to help my community to adapt to climate change, and you cannot talk about climate change without talking about the rights of indigenous people."

Reposted from Spore with permission.