Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey – Participatory data extraction and digitization (blog post 5)

Photo credit: Melvin Purzuelo
On July 15, we had another PGIS orientation session. I had the privilege to be a part of the first participatory data extraction and digitization process which occurred in Barangay Sua. The huge amount of information displayed on the model and therefore the amount of data to be digitized required the REBUILD Project management to allocate additional staff to oversee the digitizing work. At least three local government officials from the Municipality of San Dionisio and two leading staff of the REBUILD Project attended the session. The training conducted by Green Forum-Western Visayas focused on the use of QGIS for digitizing the data extracted from the 3D model of Barangay Sua. In the course of the digitizing process, I realized that most data depicted on the 3D model represent infrastructure and habitats that were destroyed by super typhoon Yolanda. Although no longer present, these were located by the villagers in order to conduct a proper vulnerability assessment. They considered that visualising a complete data-set of the pre-typhoon situation and comparing it with the present conditions would enable them to gain a better understanding of possible courses of action. As an example, they cited the introduction of storm resistant infrastructures and the design of evacuation plans which would reduce risks related to natural calamities.

A total of six P3DM exercises were conducted by the REBUILD Project. It is worth mentioning that in addition to facilitating PGIS processes, the REBUILD Project staff implements livelihood projects.

Monday, July 14, 2014

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey – QGIS introduction and P3DM in action (blog post 4)

On July 14, I was introduced to the free and open source software (FOSS),  QGIS (QuantumGIS) to be used in the PGIS process. The REBUILD Project deploys two facilitators stationed at the San Dionosio office to implement the disaster rehabilitation program and livelihood strategy. Given these circumstances, I had the opportunity to work with the QGIS software for one day. Yet, Melvin was really helpful in teaching me the QGIS essentials and introducing me to a range of FOSS GIS software applications which are available on the web. In the end, my learning process of QGIS was much easier than expected. 

Later in the day, we went to a local fishing village to work with a non-indigenous community in Sua, a Barangay (administrative unit within a municipality) located along the San Dionisio coastline. Here, we conducted a community consultation meeting. While discussing the project with the community, the importance of collaboration and participation was evident. Last June 2014, the community worked together to construct a 3D map of their location. The 3D map was overlaid with a transparent plastic sheet, where information layers were depicted by locals. From the conversations I had, the map clearly indicates an effective medium for participatory discussions. It was nice to see a couple of local Barangay councillors and their secretary, partake in the consultation process with the REBUILD Project and Green Forum-Western Visayas staff. The active participation of the Barangay officials clearly demonstrated that the local government is aware and committed to address the damages caused by the super typhoon Yolanda. The facilitating team, however, pushed for a more direct cross-disciplinary and multi-sectoral participation from those higher up in the government. Furthermore, it was recalled that while constructing the 3D model, the residents of Barangay Sua managed to outline their administrative boundary and to come to an agreement about it with the neighbouring Barangay Tiabas.

Photo credit: Melvin Purzuelo
I was struck by the ease and dynamic use of the 3D model. It did not become redundant or obsolete, even if it had been completed a month earlier. On the contrary, it gained even more relevance as a reliable repository of geo-referenced data generated by and for the community. The enthusiastic reaction demonstrated by the local women to the consultation process was really inspiring. They shared their views and opinions with respect to the need to formulate a Disaster Risk Reduction Plan which could fit well with the Community Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Both plans will be appraised by the Barangay community. The villagers themselves attest that the model will be revisited at regular intervals based on their information needs or at the request of external agencies. From my perspective, the 3D model is a true representation of the communities’ spatial knowledge concerning the entire locality and the livelihoods of the residents. The 3D model enables residents to effectively respond to emerging / changing situations.

In observing the consultation process, I was reminded that strategic decisions must offer some degree of flexibility to avoid becoming irreversible when implemented. Therefore the decision making process should be based on quality data, adequate resources and sufficient time allocation. In my opinion, the P3DM process undertaken by this community met these requirements. During the consultation I noted that the model was constantly referred to when analysing and identifying the risks inherent to their current and future livelihoods and security. The model encourages the planning and distribution of future activities in collaboration with the facilitators.

Photo credit: Melvin Purzuelo
The instances of the consultation process that are so vivid in my memory are those linked to residents showing grief and despair when sharing their stories. They explicitly used the model to describe the impact of super typhoon Yolanda and recall the life-threatening ordeal they experienced. The typhoon caused devastation, loss of property and lives and internal displacement. It severely affected to the habitats essential to the community subsistence, and in general, the existence of a once prideful fishing community. In response to such terrible consequences, the facilitating team from the REBUILD Project used the model to revive some hope in the midst of community’s despair. By autonomously analysing their situation, its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, residents were able to plan a concrete way forward leading to regain to a “normal” way of life.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey – Preparations and challenging encounters (blog post 3)

On July 11, I arrived in the Philippines, after a series of flights.


View Don's Journey in a larger map

I was welcomed at the Iloilo Airport by Melvin Purzuelo coordinator of the Green Forum-Western Visayas (my local mentor) and driven to my accommodation. I was briefed on the following day about the upcoming activities. On July 13, we went to the REBUILD Project Implementation Centre in San Dionisio. However we had to adjust our travel plans due to ensure travellers safety in an area which has been affected by super typhoon Yolanda. Recent past has witnessed a couple of incidents along the San Dionisio and Estancia Highway, involving armed robberies that included loss of lives. The locals believe that displaced people affected by the super typhoon Yolanda who are dispossessed and resort to illegal activities to sustain their living. We therefore were advised to be vigilant at all time and take necessary precautions while travelling within the devastated area. Yet, the PGIS activities were maintained as planned.

While working with Melvin, I took the opportunity for preparing the base map for organizing a similar 3D modelling exercise when back home in Solomon Islands. We discovered that the topographic maps of Solomon Islands are the work of the US air force likewise to the Philippines. Considering that these maps were made decades ago, we realized that we had to improve them to be suitable for use in a P3DM process. I am exploring possibilities for establishing a long term partnership between our organization in Solomon Islands and Melvin’s NGO in terms of PGIS activities.

Friday, July 11, 2014

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey - My expectations (blog post 2)


What I expect to gain from the Philippines P3DM / PGIS process

My overall expectations for attending the Philippines PGIS are vast. However, I shall limit the list to the following:
  1. Gain practical knowledge and skills on how to facilitate and organise stakeholders into a participatory process and to know when and how to hand over the spatial information generating process to the concerned groups.
  2. Acquire practical skills on how to select and procure appropriate inputs for the manufacture of a physical 3D map.
  3. Gain hands on experience in the process of capturing and digitizing data displayed on the model and their processing for desired outcomes.
  4. Discover appropriate approaches to assess, manage spatial data and strategise on how to use them to help concerned communities achieve their objectives 
  5. Learn how to present the output to external agencies for various purposes including, e.g. policy making, disaster recovery, land use planning, land-based conflict management, climate change adaptation.
  6. Acquire facilitator skills – maintain a collaborative, neutral presence (not too dictatorial) when populating spatial information on the model map
  7. Align, impact and measure the outcome of a P3DM on the intended scenario.
  8. Improve and advance my capacity on the use of Web 2.0 and Social Media. 
During my participation, I believe that my theoretical knowledge on the subject will be enriched by practical experience and best serve an eventual replication of the P3DM process in Solomon Islands.

Follow the learning journey of Wilfred Don Dorovoqa, a member of the Padezaka tribe in Solomon Islands. 

Supported by CTA, Wilfred Don has embarked in a journey which will bring him from Sasamuqa Village to Estancia in the Philippines where he will participate in a participatory mapping exercise. Green Forum – Western Visayas, Inc. (GF-WV) in partnership with Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Rebuild Project is facilitating the implementation of a  Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) process in an area which was severely affected by Supertyphoon Haiyan in November  2013. GF-WV is using the P3DM as an ICT tool for allowing communities to analyse their vulnerabilities and assist them in planning for reconstruction.

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey - How it all started (blog post 1)

My name is Wilfred Don Dorovoqa. I am a member of the Padezaka tribe in Solomon Islands. I am about to embark on a challenging learning journey and I thought it would be interesting to document and share it with people having similar interests and aspirations.

This is my first blogpost. More will follow.

I left Sasamuqa Village (S 7°02’18.49” E 156°45’54.33”) in the early hours of June 16, 2014 by OBM boat and arrived at Gizo (S 8°06’12.99” E 156°50’27.80”) that same day, a three to four hour journey by boat.  From there, I took a passenger boat for a two day journey to Honiara (S 9°25’52.13” E 159°57’33.57”), where I am today waiting for the trip to the Philippines.

How it all started: Embarking on the P3DM / PGIS learning journey

In 2009 I came across the concept of P3DM on the Internet, while I was searching customizable mapping resources for local spatial data entry that derived from non-technical / non-machine readable formats. I was captivated by the distinct nature and approach of the P3DM process, taking into account that at that time I was already familiar with the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) concept. I assisted in a contracted PRA activity that aimed to identify and further develop livelihood measures for a localized World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conservation project based on four indigenous land owning groups of Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands, where I was holding a position as secretary for one of the groups. The conservation efforts were funded by the European Union , and led by the Ministry of Forestry in Solomon Islands.

Simultaneously, the Padezaka tribe, pursued its land based conservation initiative under a separate NGO in Solomon Islands called ‘Live and Learn’. The Padezaka tribe was eventually very fortunate to become a selected recipient of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) – Small Grants Programme funds coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office based in Honiara, the capital city of Solomon Islands. As a member of the Padezaka tribe, I have very strong land and blood ties with the local community, and have been heavily involved in most of their conservation activities. The network of local protected areas attempts to conserve 17 percent of the highest priority terrestrial ecosystem of the Choiseul Island in adherence to the convention on biodiversity to which Solomon Islands is a signatory.

My search for mapping resources on the web was motivated by the fact that three conservation land units were under WWF conservation initiatives, including the Padezaka tribal land. Here, the conservation land units were all situated in the same segment of a significant freshwater system, locally known as the Kolobangara River. Major logging activities authorised by government, occurred further upstream while  government-endorsed WWF conservation initiatives were concentrated downstream. Indeed, upstream deforestation posed a significant threat to the livelihoods of local communities. It was a counteractive measure to monitor and moderate critical changes to the natural environment. Currently, all stakeholders involved need to come to an agreement to implement an alternative measure. One possible alternative is to produce a collaborative map with detailed land use that covers the entire watershed of the Kolobangara River.

Given this, my research eventually landed me on the front steps of the local provincial planning advisor’s house, an expatriate from New Zealand working for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Solomon Islands Office. The planning advisor assisted the Choiseul government in provincial-wide planning, project implementation and monitoring. He was very helpful and promised to update me on any available opportunities that need expert assistance for a future P3DM exercise comprising the concerned land area. In anticipation, the Padezaka Tribe submitted a budget under the GEF-Small Grants Programme fund for a P3DM project in the Padezaka bio-diversity protected sites; to generate a well defined land use plan, consult, invite and include the contiguous land owning tribes for broad holistic land-based planning activities. This of course, will work if there is an environment conducive to collaborative planning that can systematically and coherently tackle the issue of the endangered watershed areas by creating a sectoral land and resource management plan in advance. We estimated that the availability of the P3DM opportunity would coincide with the disbursement and implementation of the external fund.

Our desire for P3DM does not materialise the Padezaka Conservation Project funds. These included GEF-Small Grants Programme funds that were mismanaged by the implementing NGO, which ceased to be operational whilst subjected to that same timeframe. WWF also closed its doors to the other four local land groups, perhaps due to the lapse of the funding contract. However, the Choiseul provincial advisor was true to his word and invited me to attend a P3DM introductory workshop in May 2012. It was jointly organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), TNC and UNDP held in the Capital of the Solomon Islands. During this organised workshop, I repeatedly called on our provincial leaders in attendance to convene an extensive P3DM of the whole Island of Choiseul but was adhered not to.

Fundamentally, this is the dominant culture in PGIS practices found in some areas of the Southern hemisphere. In the Northern hemisphere, I believe the public is more proactive in using PGIS to enhance, empower and improve their way of life. At the very structure of our society there is a lack of proactive dimensions needed to engender a collaborative planning process that measures collective growth. This weakness is inherent to those tribes whose land comprises the noted watershed area. Furthermore, the National River Act was very ineffective in dealing with large scale natural resource extractions, because it had no clear provisions for specific social and natural environment safeguards. However, I am also fully aware of the fact that some methodologies and techniques incorporated into the PRA approach have limitations for discovering effective solutions in the midst of the large scale emergence of this environmental threat.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

She becomes more beautiful: Capturing the essence of Tobago Island for a better tomorrow



The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Tobago House of Assembly, Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment (DAME) and the Partners with Melanesians (PwM) facilitated the building of a Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) of Tobago Island from 28th September to 12th October 2012.

The model was used as a tool to incorporate and recognize local and traditional knowledge and values into decision making about climate change adaptation.

A training of trainers in facilitating participatory approaches, with participants drawn from the Caribbean Region, was executed concurrently with the building of the P3D model of Tobago. Participants in the Training of Trainers used participatory video to evaluate the effectiveness of the use of P3DM.

The project was funded by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF SGP).

Friday, May 23, 2014

A three-way dialogue on climate change

The peasant, the decision-maker, the researcher and Participatory 3d Modelling

In the numerous bus stations in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, all passengers, arriving from other parts of the country, with their bag of worries, know where to find a sympathetic ear. Aladji Ibrahim’s steps lead him to Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, the coordinator of AFPAT, an organisation which defends the rights of Bororos pastoralists. This is the start of a story of people, animals, space and human rights with, at centre stage, an outstanding “character”: a three-dimensional model. This tool, displayed within an administrative office in Baïbokoum, almost 600 km from N’Djamena, is proving to be an unexpected medium for promoting the dialogue between peasants, local authorities, scientists and national public authorities, all concerned about climate change, reducing conflicts between faming and herding communities, territorial development, the promotion of human rights, ...


Three-way dialogue on climate change

This documentary completes a trilogy of films, produced in phases.

November 2011: IPACC and AFPAT co-organised, with the support of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a workshop on pastoralism, traditional knowledge, meteorology and the development of policies for adapting to climate change. Climate governance was the focus of the debates, with around the table indigenous herders from South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Niger, meteorologists, ministers and representatives of international organisations. This workshop culminated in the so-called N’djamena Declaration , which emphasised the urgent need to involve vulnerable groups in the development of policies to mitigate climate change. It recommended the use of participatory approaches and visualisation tools to represent the available space at community level.


Climate Governance: A matter of survival for nomadic pastoralists

July–August 2012. The Baïbokoum workshop on Participatory three-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM), with as its theme the prevention and management of conflicts between farming and herding communities, implemented the N’djamena recommendations. The combination of the knowledge of indigenous communities and the skills of experienced facilitators resulted in the production of a physical three-dimensional model depicting in detail an area of 720 sq km at a 1:10,000 scale.


Dangers in the bush, map of good faith

One year on, what has become of the model, the result of the multi-stakeholder dialogue? The third documentary answers this question. It narrates the journey undertaken by Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim to Baïbokoum. At her destination, she meets pastoralists and edgy authorities. They would like to popularise the model with farmers, traditional community leaders and in local development programmes. But they lack the necessary technical and financial resources. Their cry from the heart is conveyed to N’Djamena by the tireless advocate of the cause of Bororos herdsman: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

PGIS Tutorials by SEI, York, UK



These online video guides and slides provide practical information and examples on designing, planning, undertaking and then analysing community maps using GIS techniques. The video guides describe in detail the steps needed to prepare for community consultations using maps, examples of collection methods and then detailed information on how convert participatory maps into digital spatial databases. Finally there are example slide resources on how you can use community mapping and PGIS to improve environmental decision making outcomes.

Dialogue à trois sur le changement climatique

Le Paysan, Le Décideur, Le Chercheur Et La Cartographie Participative En Trois Dimensions 

Dans les nombreuses gares routières de Ndjaména, la capitale du Tchad, chaque voyageur, venu de l’intérieur du pays avec son balluchon de soucis, sait où trouver une oreille attentive. Les pas de Aladji Ibrahim le conduisent chez Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, la coordonnatrice d’AFPAT, une organisation de défense des droits des éleveurs peul bororos. Ainsi commence une histoire d’hommes, d’animaux, d’espace et de droits humains avec au centre un étrange personnage : une maquette en trois dimensions. Cet outil, trônant dans un local administratif à Baïbokoum, à près de 600 km de Ndjaména, se révèle un moyen inattendu pour favoriser le dialogue entre paysans, autorités locales, hommes de science et pouvoirs publics nationaux, tous préoccupés par le changement climatique, la diminution des conflits agriculteurs éleveurs, l’aménagement du territoire, la promotion des droits humains…


Dialogue à trois sur le changement climatique.

Ce documentaire boucle une trilogie de films, réalisés en trois temps.

Novembre 2011 :  IPACC et AFPAT co organisent, avec le soutien du Centre de coopération technique et agricole, le CTA, un atelier sur le pastoralisme, la connaissance traditionnelle, la météorologie et l’élaboration de politiques d’adaptation au changement climatique. La gouvernance climatique est au cœur des débats, avec autour de la table, des éleveurs autochtones d’Afrique du sud, du Kenya, de Namibie, du Niger et des météorologues, des ministres ainsi que des représentants d’organisations internationales. Il en ressort une déclaration dite de Ndjaména, qui acte l’urgence d’impliquer les couches vulnérables dans l’élaboration des politiques d’atténuation du changement climatique. L’utilisation d’approches participatives et d’outils de représentation de l’espace utilisables à l’échelle communautaire est recommandée.


Brousse de tous les dangers, carte de tous les espoirs.

Juillet – août 2012. L’atelier de Baïbokoum sur la cartographie participative en trois dimensions, avec comme thématique la prévention et la gestion des conflits agriculteurs et éleveurs, matérialise la recommandation de Ndjaména. La combinaison des savoirs des communautés autochtones et les compétences des facilitateurs expérimentés à aboutie à la réalisation d’une maquette en trois dimensions représentant en détail une superficie de 720 km2 à l’échelle de 1 : 10, 000.


Gouvernance climatique: Une question de survie pour les éleveurs nomades.

Un an après que devient la maquette, fruit de ce dialogue multi acteurs ? Le troisième documentaire (Le Paysan, Le Décideur, Le Chercheur Et La Cartographie Participative En Trois Dimensions) répond à cette question. Il raconte le voyage qu’entreprend Hindou Oumaraou Ibrahim à Baïbokoum. Sur place, elle découvre des éleveurs, des autorités à cran. Ils voudraient vulgariser la maquette auprès des agriculteurs, de la chefferie traditionnelle et dans les programmes locaux de développement. Mais ils sont démunis techniquement et financièrement. Leur cri du cœur remonte à Ndjaména, porté par l’infatigable avocate de la cause des éleveurs Peul bororos : Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles used for participatory mapping in Haiti



Since 2010, the free and collaborative OpenStreetMap mapping community has been growing in Haiti. Backed up by the global OSM community and using innovative tools like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), it keeps improving in order to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Participatory mapping is a powerful tool to enhance the communities' resilience facing natural disasters, but also to engage an dynamic for the local development of the territory.

The project carried by COSMHA with the support of CartONG and OSM-Fr endeavor to remain extremely concrete while at the same time rising above the issues to help objectivize decision-making. It induces change from and with the local communities.

A Guide to using Community Mapping and Participatory-GIS recently released

This guide, developed by John Forrester and Steve Cinderby from the University of York, UK, provides practical guidance aimed at lay users, community groups and students on whether community mapping and participatory geographic information systems are appropriate methods for the development issue you are investigating. The guide then talks you through the practical steps of designing, running and assessing community information collected using maps. The options, benefits and skills needed for of further analysis of the maps using PGIS are also discussed. Finally, alternative methods that could also be useful for community groups are also considered with links to other information sources.

The Guide to using Community Mapping and Participatory-GIS has been prepared as part of the Managing Borderlands project and funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme of the Economic & Social and Natural Environment Research Councils