Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Participatory 3D Modelling exercise kicks off with much gusto in Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago nationals and their Caribbean counterparts converge for workshop.

SCARBOROUGH, 30 September, 2012. Sixth form students and their teachers from secondary schools across Tobago, members of civil society from Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, along with representatives from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), and the University of the West Indies (UWI) have been merging their skills to construct a 3 dimensional (3D) model of Tobago. The 3D model being constructed will cover an area of approximately 1,152 km² and consist of a 1:10,000-scale version of the island and its waters up to a depth of -100 metres, says CANARI’s Senior Technical Officer, Neila Bobb-Prescott.

The process of building this model involves a varied mix of actively involved people and so it is termed participatory 3D modelling or P3DM. The P3DM of Tobago is taking place during a workshop held over the period September 28th to October 12th 2012 at the Blenheim Sheep Multiplication and Research Project station in Tobago.

Kail Zingapan leads a session to explain the application of
GIS technology to the model building exercise  
The workshop is facilitated by CANARI and the UWI, with financial and technical assistance from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and the United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility - Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF-SGP).  The model building exercise is coached by a team of facilitators which includes specialists from as far as the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

The 2-week activity is based on a participatory approach which acknowledges the importance of traditional knowledge and builds on it in making decisions about how to cope with climate change, says Dr. Bheshem Ramlal of the UWI.  He adds that the information generated in the mapping exercise can be used for advocacy and informing policy. The participatory approach focuses on learning by doing, exchange of knowledge and collegial data analysis and verification. Data storage and retrieval “must be done by local people or not at all” notes Geographic Information System (GIS) expert Ms. Kail Zingapan from the Philippines.

Student Participation 

Sorting through the kit of materials needed
for the model construction  
On their first day, the students attended an orientation session at which they were briefed on various aspects of  the P3DM process.  For the next couple of days, they will trace contours and cut cardboard to represent the elevation of the land and the depths of the sea.  The contours will be traced using carbon paper on carton board sheets. These will be cut out and glued on the top of each other paying special attention to their correct geo-location.

Jhon-Pierre of the Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School and Jaidon Lalla of University of the West Indies Open Campus, both teenage students, are eager  to begin construction of the model. They both agree that creating the 3D model of Tobago is an event of historical significance and would help them to appreciate the natural resources of the island. They also see the model being used as a means of helping all stakeholders shape future uses of the resources of Tobago.
The boys were selected by their peers to be interviewed here after the girls in the groups cheerfully chorus “men must rule again”.  The boys' response -“yea, yea” - to this show of encouragement was not very enthusiastic, but they showed that they quite understood the significance of the project in which they were all engaged.

Facilitator training

Neila Bobb-Prescott from CANARI prepares
for her presentation on facilitation 
A crucial element of the workshop consisted in an initial phase of training of professionals from different areas of the Caribbean to become  P3DM  facilitators; these persons will return to their countries each equipped with knowledge and necessary skills for replicating the activity in their respective countries
During one of CANARI’s training sessions, Neila introduced the trainees to key concepts in participatory approaches to natural resource management; she identified the role of stakeholders and the challenges and benefits of their involvement in the process.

Additionally, Bheshem, Kenn Mondiai of Partners with Melanesians (PwM), an NGO based in Papua New Guinea and Kail shared information on the development of the Participatory GIS (PGIS). “PGIS is a method used to compose peoples’ spatial knowledge of their landscape with the use of GIS tools”, said Kail.

Caribbean flavour

Enjoying the Tobago cuisine! 
Katrina Collins and Shawnaly Pascal from St. Vincent and Grenada, respectively, are happy to be in Tobago at the workshop.  They point out the similarities of the physical landscape of the three islands.  Their interests include Tobago’s gourmet cuisine.  Katrina calls for buss-up shot and roti, cocoa tea and coconut bake.  Shawnaly smiles and adds, “Any food I don’t get at home, I want to eat” (sic).  Neila politely smiles and indicates she will try her best to please.  In keeping with the spirit of camaraderie permeating the workshop, the women were advised, by Tobago participant, Adanna Piggott-Henry, of the need to consume fresh cuisine or face dire gastronomical consequences!

Naming the activity in Tobago

The theme, ‘She becomes more beautiful: Capturing the essence of Tobago today for a better tomorrow’, emerged as the winning title to the P3DM activity after a brainstorming session among workshop participants during the introduction and planning workshop.  The first part of the theme, ‘She becomes more beautiful’ is particularly relevant to Tobago as it is the motto for the island’s annual Heritage Festival, and depicts a naked pregnant woman of African descent.  The P3DM exercise will certainly capture where Tobago’s development is taking place and will provide an effective platform on which to plan  community actions and policy development in  the future.

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