Wednesday, October 10, 2012

P3DM blank model of Tobago ready for accommodating community’s knowledge

SCARBOROUGH, 3 October, 2012. Facilitators working on the blank model for the P3DM of Tobago all agreed that... “it has been challenging!”

The P3DM of Tobago undergoes the smoothing process u
sing crêpe paper cut-outs
Looking at an example of a model during the orientation, they thought that building a model would have been an easy task, but reality turned out to be quite different.  Expressions of relief echo around the workshop area as the blank model is finally complete on day three of the project.  Yet, in the same breath, they also give heartfelt thanks for being among the 'chosen few' selected to be part of the workshop.  Facilitators are from regional and national non-governmental organizations, government agencies, inter-governmental technical agencies and members of academia.

Held in Tobago at the Mt. St George Blenheim Sheep Multiplication and Research Project, the workshop is being conducted by experts from the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) with financial and technical assistance from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and the UNDP Small Grants Programme of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF-SGP).

CANARI's project concept note of July 2012 states that the workshop’s aim is to get members of the community involved in "climate -related decision making" through a process involving the manufacture and use of Participatory 3D Models.

Confidence soars as the hands-on experience continues

Addana Pigott-Henry, an agricultural scientist working at CARDI, Tobago, says the experience for her was different from expectations, since she had envisaged a more formal lecture-style approach to the workshop.  After the hands-on experiences of the last couple of days though, she says she now feels empowered to assist in conducting a P3DM exercise with the help of experts.  She has learnt a lot from the interactive method and the lessons are invaluable, she says.  Addana, is of course happy that the workshop is being held in Tobago so that the regional and international participants can get a chance to experience the hospitality of Tobagonians and its rich and varied cuisine.

Meteorologist Anthony Moore of Barbados says that he is also fairly confident that if he was to build a P3DM, he would be able to do so as he is now equipped with adequate knowledge and experience.  Representing the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), Anthony says that at the beginning of the workshop he was lost and thought that building the model was a 'huge undertaking'.  His experience with maps and drawing, cutting and layering contours on a daily basis did little to allay his fears.  "A lot has been cleared up because of the hands-on experience," he admits.

Anthony acknowledges the value of a facilitation lesson shared by CANARI's Neila Bobb-Prescott and lists it as a highpoint of the workshop.  As a stakeholder in water resource management, he says the lesson is valuable and will help him to get information from farmers for an impact assessment study.  "Interaction with them would be easier,” he says.

Not unlike Adanna and Anthony, Adam Jehu of the Institute of Marine Affairs in Trinidad (IMA), also feels he now has the ability to construct a P3DM of an area and acknowledges that this approach to mapping is a "very novel way of capturing spatial data from the members of the community, the people who have the knowledge."  Adam is also grateful for the lesson on how to facilitate a P3DM exercise, since although he did know how to use GIS technology, he did not know how to build on community’s knowledge of the landscape.

Community insights

In the middle of one group orientation, a few residents popped in.  They stood around the model, and immediately without prompting, they started pointing out places in the island, the river, the forest and many other things, and recognized features on the blank model.  And almost as quickly, they pointed out features that were lacking on the model: Little Tobago, the reefs, the rocks, the islets.  They began to improve on this omission by contributing the names of the rocks and the islets that lie successively along a chain around the north-eastern tip of Tobago.

“This doesn't cease to amaze me when I see it happen.  Local people can immediately spot errors or omissions on GIS maps and correct them” noted Kail Zingapan.

Crucial lessons 

Participants create the storyboard using yarn, Playdoh
and other materials
Facilitators learned the components of two more aspects of the P3DM exercise on Wednesday.  The first was about monitoring and evaluation of the process.  CANARI’s Executive Director, Nicole Leotaud brought some clarity to the concepts and introduced the tool of participatory video (PV) which will be used in the evaluation process.  Desiree Sampson, videographer, gave tips on the shooting of videos.  This session featured a mix of hands-on training and feedback from trainees.

The facilitators created images of the results they want to achieve from the P3DM process in Tobago with Playdoh, yarn and pins.  They then created a storyboard for the video which will be developed to evaluate the effectiveness of P3DM in realizing these desired outputs.  The storyboard that was developed is a sequence of drawings which depict the shots planned for the video production.

Cassandra Mitchell of Grenada practices using
one of the PV video cams.
As part of the hands-on training, the participants took the cameras outside the building and took turns in learning how to operate them.

On Thursday 4th October, the facilitators will get ready to capture the workshop action on camera as community informants are expected to arrive in droves to ‘transpose their mental maps’ onto the blank model.

On a lighter note...

Though the trainers and experts themselves have been 'on the go' since the beginning of the workshop, they have found time for lighter moments, such as celebrating the birthday of Wellington Martinez from the Dominican Environmental Consortium.  Wellington had the joyful experience of having "Happy Birthday" sung to him in his native language, Spanish.  ¡Cumpleaños feliz, Wellington!"

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