Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Participatory 3D Model built in the Caribbean

Nationals from the region now ready and eager
to introduce P3DM in their countries

SCARBOROUGH, 13 October 2012.  One hundred and six Tobagonians participated in transposing their mental recollections of the impact of climate change on their natural resources and how they are adapting to climate change on the participatory 3D model of Tobago.  Informant, Lyris Walker called it a piece of work “for the people, by the people and of the people”.

Indeed, the importance of facilitating data collation from local communities was underscored by Philippines GIS expert, Kail Zingapan, when she stated that without inputs from the residents of Tobago, the model could not be built.  The model covers an area of 1,152 km² and consists of a 1:10,000-scale version of the island and its surrounding waters up to a depth of -100 meters.

Under the theme: "She becomes more beautiful: Capturing the essence of Tobago today for a better tomorrow", the title of the event and the legend for the model were agreed upon by residents of Tobago during an introductory and planning workshop which was coordinated by CANARI’s Senior Technical Officer and Manager of Forest, Livelihoods and Governance Programme, Neila Bobb-Prescott on September 25 2012.

The organizers - CANARI and technical and financial sponsors, CTA and UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme - invited many Caribbean nationals, from NGOs, CBOs, government agencies, intergovernmental technical agencies and academia as well as their Tobago counterparts, to the 14-day workshop where they gained skills in building the model and in documenting and assessing the process through the use of participatory video (PV).  Two participatory mapping experts from the Philippines and Papua New Guinea facilitated the model-building process in which students from secondary schools across Tobago were also involved.

Making the model

Trainees are guided on contour tracing by Kail Zingapan,
GIS expert from the Philippines
Trainees and students noted that building the model turned out not to be as easy as it looked, as the base map, which was prepared by a team from the UWI, had to be traced onto cardboard and then carefully cut into individual elevation layers.

These layers of cardboard were carefully placed and glued on top of each other and consolidated and smoothened using crêpe paper.  White paint was subsequently applied to the cardboard model.
At that stage, the model was ready for accommodating data all originating from mental recollections of residents of Tobago.  These came from many sectors of the society - fishermen, farmers, reef tour operators, hunters, environmental groups, and academia.  Natural resources were identified, areas affected by climate change were pointed out and measures used to adapt to the changes were described.  All these contributions generated a total of 87 layers of information all displayed on the model.

Quality assurance 

At every stage of building the model, there were checks and balances as facilitators ensured code consistency and stimulated community cross-verification of input data.  Additionally, the information transposed on the model was also checked by technocrats from different departments of the THA.

A trainee adds elevation layers to the model
At the early stages of model making, residents pointed out that Little Tobago, a small island off the coast of Tobago, and other islets and rock outcrops were missing from the model.  All these being important landmarks for fisherfolk and sailors.  The facilitators acknowledged their absence.

Adam, one of the workshop participants who used to work at the UWI, rose to the challenge of preparing the needed contour map, far from his GIS lab and using a locally available ink-jet printer to plot the islets.  Kail obtained elevation data from the Internet, and one of the UWI graduate students helped Adam obtain the data concerning the depth of the sea.  And … magic …by the end the day, Little Tobago and other missing islets were placed onto the model and smoothed with crepe paper.

The progress of the activities was constantly under review by CANARI‘s facilitators, Nicole Leotaud - Executive Director and Neila Bobb-Prescott - workshop coordinator.  Morning debriefing sessions evaluated the previous day’s work and set an agenda for the day’s activity.

Handing over

At the end of the workshop, the people of Tobago handed over the model to the Tobago House of Assembly.  It was received by Hon. Gary Melville, Secretary for Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment.

The informants used a series of photographs on PowerPoint slides to explain what they felt was happening to the natural resources in Tobago and called on the authorities to take urgent action to address the impact of climate change.

Left to right: Neila Bobb-Prescott (CANARI),
Giacomo Rambaldi (CTA),
Hon. Gary Melville (THA) and Lamon Rutten (CTA),
examine the P3DM model of Tobago
A brief synopsis of the workshop was delivered by CANARI, and the representatives from sponsoring agencies - CTA and UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme - applauded all the stakeholders for their efforts.

CTA’s , Senior Programme Coordinator, Mr. Giacomo Rambaldi, said he was happy to see the outcome of the programme and UNDP’s Programme Assistant, Ms Sasha Jattansingh, extended sincere appreciation to all the stakeholders who had built the model.

One informant, Ms Laura Williams of Golden Lane, besieged policy makers not to allow the model to become a “dust enhancer” and added that the purpose for which the model will be used will determine the future of the island’s resources and its peoples.

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