Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 3: Participatory Mapping and Community Empowerment for Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Advocacy

23 May, 2012, HONIARA - Day 3 started with the visit to the nearby hall where the blank 3D model was on display. At that time six community representatives from Naro location were already working on it taking into account the legend items they previously identified and listed. Assisted by a facilitator they were using colour-coded pushpins, yarns and paint to populate the land-and seascapes of the 3D model. Small labels were used to name settlements, mountain peaks, river courses and other landmark features used by community members to orient themselves in the area. Before start working, the facilitator Patrick Vuet invited Naro representatives to explain the process undertaken so far. “We have been working at the preparation of the legend since yesterday” Joseph Salima from Naro explained. “At the very beginning we experienced some difficulties in recognizing our area on the 3D map. After a short while it became clear to us and now we are able to recognize the entire area. But” he continued “we would like to ask you to help us in case we would not do things properly”.

Looking at the blank model, he seemed challenged by the task and not confident about his capabilities.
However, when the workshop participants asked Joseph to identify the location of the Naro village and the protected marine area, he did not hesitate and pointed his finger to specific locations on the blank 3D model. The immediate response of Joseph was the demonstration of what the workshop participants had learned during the previous days, namely that deeply rooted knowledge needs the right channel to surface. In fact Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) is known for facilitating reflection and for eliciting tacit knowledge, and for making people aware of the precious knowledge they hold.
While community representatives started populating the model with coloured yarns and pushpins, in the main hall Giacomo Rambaldi opened the morning session addressing the main topic of the day: attitudes, behaviours and ethics in practicing participatory GIS (PGIS). By running a map reversal exercise and showing images focusing on body language, Rambaldi argued that external factors influence our beliefs, values and attitudes. In turn the latter manifest through our behaviours and affect our facilitation work among rural communities. Indeed, acceptable behaviours and ethics can vary from culture to culture. To highlight this aspect, Dave de Vera and Senoveva Mauli facilitated a group exercise focusing on the definition of ground rules for community workers or technology intermediaries entering a community.

Five working group were formed based on the geographical origin of the participants. Although the final outputs differed based on cultural traits and target beneficiaries, some crosscutting elements could be singled out. These included (i) the need for building a trustful relationship, (ii) being open and transparent on intended and possibly unintended consequences, (iii) the need for obtaining free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) from participating knowledge holders on data capturing and handling, (iv) the need for ensuring respect of intellectual property rights (IPR) and (v) the need for involving local authorities and community leaders from the very early stages of the process.

Following the projection of the inspiring video “Localisation, participation and communication: an introduction to good PGIS practice” where the main does and don’ts in the facilitation of participatory mapping processes are addressed, Giulia Pedone interviewed a panel of experts on attitude, behaviours and ethics in the context of community-based activities. Jacob Zikuli, Adaptation Fund SWoCK Project Manager; Simon Albert, researcher at the University of Queensland; Neila Bobb-Prescott, Senior Technical Officer for the Caribbean Natural Resource Institute (CANARI) and Dave de Vera, PAFID Executive Director, composed the panel.

Jackob Zikuli was invited to comment about good practices for building trust between intermediaries and community. “Building trust is a very important part of the work” he said. “I follow four principles: first, introduce your work to the community, to build confidence. Second, be honest and clear about what you do and about the implications of your work. Third, you have to be careful with the benefits people might expect from your work (don’t raise false expectations); only when people evaluate benefits and risks they can be able to say “yes” or “no”. And forth, a long term commitment with communities, showing that your work will build capacities and strengthen them”.

The sensitive issue of intellectual ownership of knowledge holders on the information provided during scientific research was raised with Simon Albert. “This is a very sensitive issue I have been confronting with several times while working in Melanesia.  It is important to ensure equal access to information and get Free, Prior and Informed Consent from the knowledge holders before making use of the collected data” he said. However “the real key issues are the human behaviour and the internal attributes of the person” Simon Albert added. This relates with integrity and sensitiveness of the researcher. Indeed, some recommendation can be also drawn: the establishment of a long-term, strong bond and friendly relationship with communities, the use of local language to ensure mutual understanding among parties and avoid miscommunication and a deep comprehension of the cultural context; all are key elements that can facilitate a trusted relationship between researchers and communities, and that should mitigate risks of misappropriation of local knowledge.

Neila Bobb-Prescott presented some participatory tools she uses in her work with communities in the Caribbean to facilitate participatory processes. Tools like the stakeholder analysis can identify who should be involved in the process, at what stage and taking which responsibilities. This exercise should be done at the very early stage of the process in order to ensure fair participation of community members and avoid that few people take control over it. In addition, according to Ms. Bob-Prescott, the presence of a skilled, independent facilitator is also crucial for promoting equal participation.

How to ensure that people are aware of the potential consequences of undertaking participatory processes and how to avoid to expose people to danger, especially when working in conflict areas, was the question addressed to Dave de Vera. “In my experience, people that choose to get involved in participatory processes, especially mapping,  are already aware of the risks”, he replied.  Participatory mapping processes may touch on sensitive issues but might also be used to address conflicts. The role of the facilitator is to provide an even basis of understanding spatial issues upon which to build and elaborate diverse scenarios, be honest about opportunities and risks, and enable community members to take informed decisions.  “90% of facilitation is about sensitivity”, he added. “It is like having a third eye, able to read between lines, being sensitive to the circumstances”, independently from the educational background the person has.

The last questions addressed to all panellists focused on “who gains and who loses” and “who is empowered or disempowered” within participatory processes. “If not done properly” Dave de Vera replied, “everybody loses. The facilitator will loose his/her credibility. At the same time the community will also loose because it will be misrepresented. On the contrary, if done properly, both sides would win. Facilitators learn, and the community gains. I have been involved in participatory mapping during the last 20 years and I am still learning. Every P3DM is something new; I always learn from people”, he concluded.

The panel was followed by a Q&A session which generated a vibrant debate about those sensitive issues.

The panel was followed by a presentation of Neila Bobb-Prescott on facilitating grassroots participation in decision making processes in the Caribbean. She kick-started her slot animating an energising game among participants. The game helped raising awareness on key factors that influence participatory processes, such as the spontaneous emergence of group leaders in crisis situations, the diversity of power relations within groups, and the need to strategize and foster collaboration to address complex situations. In line with the core thrust of the workshop, Neila Bobb-Prescott presented two case study: The first one was on the formulation of Trinidad and Tobago forest and protected areas policies through collaborative processes. The second one focused on participatory video used as an advocacy tool to help a fishing community communicate their challenges and develop partnerships to address them. According to Neila, in both cases the deployment of trained, independent facilitators emerged as a key success factor. This could help building trust and understanding of issues among the parties. Communities need to develop clear messages to communicate their needs. Use participatory tools to plan how communities will be engaged and what role you want them to play so it is clear what participants from the community are expected to do. Involve communities and their intermediaries in policy development to build support, capacity and interest in management.

The last part of the day was dedicated to participatory video as tool for community empowerment and advocacy.

Video, in fact, allows communities to express their vision from their own perspective, document their stories and traditions, communicate and raise awareness about the main challenges they are facing and share their experiences.
Kat Gawlik, a freelance media producer attending the workshop on behalf of TNC, described how in participatory processes, multimedia can be used for enabling marginalised people to speak out, raise concerns and gain public attention.

One of the videos produced by coastal communities in the framework of a TNC-supported initiative in the Solomon Islands provides evidence on climate change impacts and documents how affected communities had planned to best manage their environment.

During the course of the whole day, community representatives from Naro worked towards the completion of their 3D model.

Primary and secondary forest, coconut plantations, coastal protected areas, swamps, river courses, roads, logging concessions’ boundaries and other landmarks gradually populated the map.

An initiative supported by:
Read more:

No comments: