Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PLA 65 on Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent now online

Participatory Learning and Action 65 on Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent is now online.

This issue is guest edited by Krystyna Swiderska (IIED), Kanchi Kohli (Kalpavriksh, India), Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice), Wim Hiemstra, (COMPAS, Netherlands), Maria Julia Oliva (Union for Ethical Biotrade)

This special issue of PLA explores two important participatory tools that indigenous peoples and local communities can use to help defend their customary rights to biocultural heritage, natural resources and land:  Community protocols – or charters of rules and responsibilities – in which communities set out their customary rights to natural resources and land, as recognised in customary, national and international laws; and free, prior informed consent (FPIC) processes, in which communities decide whether or not to allow projects affecting their land or resources to go ahead, and on what terms.

The issue reviews the experiences of communities in Asia, Latin America and Africa in developing and using these tools in a range of contexts. It also looks at some government experiences of
establishing institutional processes for FPIC and benefit-sharing. It identifies practical lessons and guidance based on these experiences and aims to strengthen the capacity of a range of actors to
support these rights-based tools effectively in practice. It aims to provide guidance for those implementing the Nagoya Protocol and other natural resource and development practitioners, and
to raise awareness of the importance of community designed and controlled participatory processes.

Hard copies available on request on subscribe to PLA at www.planotes.org

Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops: Carbon & Culture

The Surui Cultural Map shows the Surui tribe of the Amazon's vision of their forest, including their territory and traditional history. To create this map, Surui youth interviewed their elders to document and map their ancestral sites, such as the site of first contact with western civilization in 1969, places where the tribes battled with colonists in the 1970s, as well as places of interest, like sightings of jaguars, capybaras and toucans. To preserve their forest and their livelihood, the Surui are entering the Carbon Credit marketplace with software called Open Data Kit to measure carbon and monitor any illegal logging in their forests using Android smartphones.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Peoples' Advocacy vis-a-vis Extractive Industries

This video documents how a participatory 3D model (P3DM) has been effectively used for advocacy purposes in the framework of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines. In response to the results of an environmental impact assessment produced by consultants hired by the mining company, activists and community members used a P3DM process to harness local expertise to rebut the experts' findings and present the peoples point of view regarding the mining project.

Using the 3D model as the medium, a future scenario was added to the current situation: The pit hole, tailing dam and expected stock pile were visualised on the 3D model as if the mining operation would be running at full capacity. The impact of the visualisation was very strong since the public hardly knew which towns and villages would be affected, and was not aware of the actual impacts of the operations which had been minimised by the consultants in their presentation.

Source: PAFID, Philippines

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mapping is Power

Set in the Altai Republic of Russia in southern Siberia, Mapping is Power follows cultural specialist Maya Erlenbaeva and shaman Maria Amanchina as they visit sacred sites near Kosh Agach. Indigenous people are mapping their sacred sites to protect them. This scene is a preview of Standing on Sacred Ground, a 4-part series produced by the Sacred Land Film Project, which will profile sacred land struggles around the world. www.sacredland.org

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Risks of Mapping Indigenous Lands, Ep 2 - Giacomo Rambaldi, CTA

Giacomo Rambaldi from CTA discusses participatory mapping including the benefits and risks during the "Participatory Mapping and Community Empowerment for Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Advocacy workshop" held in Solomon Islands on 21-26 May 2012.

Video by TNC, Kat Gawlik

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mapping Indigenous Lands, Ep 1 - Dave De Vera, Philippines

Dave De Vera, executive director of PAFID is an advocate in rights based approaches and expert in participatory mapping (in particular participatory three dimensional modelling or P3DM). In this short interview Dave discusses the ethical considerations during the "Participatory Mapping and Community Empowerment for Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Advocacy workshop" held in Solomon Islands on 21-26 May 2012.

Video by TNC, Kat Gawlik

Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge: Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice

Crowdsourcing Geographic Knowledge: Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Theory and Practice to be released in August 2012.

The phenomenon of volunteered geographic information is part of a profound transformation in how geographic data, information, and knowledge are produced and circulated.

By situating volunteered geographic information (VGI) in the context of big-data deluge and the data-intensive inquiry, the 20 chapters in this book explore both the theories and applications of crowdsourcing for geographic knowledge production with three sections focusing on (i) VGI, Public Participation, and Citizen Science; (ii) Geographic Knowledge Production and Place Inference; and (iii) Emerging Applications and New Challenges.

This book argues that future progress in VGI research depends in large part on building strong linkages with diverse geographic scholarship. Contributors of this volume situate VGI research in geography’s core concerns with space and place, and offer several ways of addressing persistent challenges of quality assurance in VGI.

This book positions VGI as part of a shift toward hybrid epistemologies, and potentially a fourth paradigm of data-intensive inquiry across the sciences. It also considers the implications of VGI and the exaflood for further time-space compression and new forms, degrees of digital inequality, the renewed importance of geography, and the role of crowdsourcing for geographic knowledge production.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The power of information: Map Kibera uses GIS, SMS, video and the web to gather community data

The Map Kibera project works with young people from one of Africa’s biggest slums. They use GIS, SMS, video and the web to gather data and make it available to the community, where it can be applied to influence policies related to the area.

Located just five kilometres from the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, the residents of Kibera have grown accustomed to the many foreign experts visiting their community to conduct surveys and ask questions for yet another data collection initiative. As one of the largest slum areas in Africa, it draws staff from development organisations, research institutes and NGOs from all over the world.

As all these organisations and researchers generate more and more documents and project reports about Kibera, very little of the information gathered is ever made available to the 250,000 people who live there. Access to the data would give the people of Kibera the chance to present their own view of the living conditions in the community. They would be able to influence public policy to achieve improvements to the facilities that they believe are important.

In 2009, Erica Hagen, a specialist in the use of new media for development, and Mikel Maron, a digital mapping expert, started Map Kibera to help residents use mapping technology to gather information about their community. For the initial phase of the project, they recruited 13 local young people, aged between 19 to 34, including five women and eight men, from each village in Kibera.

The participants received two days training on how to use handheld GPS receivers to gather location data, and an introduction to using the specialised software in a computer lab. The team was supported by five GIS professionals from Nairobi who had volunteered their time. The participants then spent three weeks walking along the roads, pathways and rail tracks with their GPS receivers recoding the location data. They collected more specific information on water and sewage locations, education, religious and business locations, as well as anything else the participants deemed useful.


Rather than create a stand-alone map, the location data gathered by the project was added to the open source project OpenStreetMap, which is a crowdsourced map made by volunteers around the world. Map Kibera contributed to filling their part of OpenStreetMap, which would also make the information available to more people, and help to raise the profile of the project.

The team also wanted to add a multimedia aspect to the maps, by including video footage of points of interest from around Kibera, and uploading them to YouTube. Three members of Carolina for Kibera (CFK), affiliated with the University of North Carolina, assisted with the filming and helped to document the map making process using small camcorders.

The young people involved in the project developed a sense of achievement as they learned the new skills, and gained confidence in using new technologies. They also began to see the value of the information they were collecting and to understand the impact it could have on their community. However, it was not so easy to convince other residents.

There was a lot of cynicism in the local community caused by the NGOs who had previously come to Kibera but never shared their information. People were, therefore, reluctant to be filmed and photographed. Although the GPS data gathering was less intrusive, the technology presented other difficulties.

The lack of reliable power and inadequate internet access in Kibera were major challenges, especially when it came to uploading large video files to the web, which can take a long time. The slow internet connection also made it difficult to update security software on the computers, leaving them vulnerable to damaging viruses.

These were challenges that could be overcome in time, but for the project to be a real success, it would have to show that it could provide useful information to the community. The mapping project was, therefore, expanded to incorporate public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) to gather information on specific issues affecting the residents of Kibera.

The group focused on collecting detailed data on four sectors: health, security, education, and water and sanitation. In February 2010, Map Kibera developed a partnership with UNICEF and added a fifth topic: mapping girls’ security. The aim here was to get the girls’ views on possible threats to their security, along with location information, for use in compiling data on their vulnerability to HIV/Aids.

Nine mappers collected data on the five topics using paper forms, gathering, for example, details of the costs and services offered at clinics and chemists in the area. To further encourage community involvement and get feedback on the information gathered, the team produced printed versions of maps for each area and placed transparencies on top so that residents could make changes and additions as necessary. Map Kibera also involved other interested organisations working in the health and security sectors in the area, including African Medical and Research Foundation and a women's group called Kibera Power Women.

Positive picture

As well as making the maps and multimedia available online, Map Kibera looked for other ways for the community to use the information gathered. For instance, the video material filmed as part of the mapping exercises could also be used to present news stories of the area. This idea expanded and the team worked with two youth from Kibera, who already had film-making experience.

They trained 18 young people to use small ‘ultra-portable’ Flip video cameras and the software to help them share their efforts on the web. This led to Kibera News Network (KNN), a citizen journalism initiative to present features and news stories affecting Kibera, showing positive aspects of the area and providing accurate coverage of negative events.

Mainstream media often focused on the misery and negativity in Kibera. The only events certain to attract mainstream media attention were clashes with the police or when the trains that run along the area’s peripheries were disrupted. Map Kibera attempts to change the perception of Kibera by allowing people to create and share their own stories.

The KNN teams edit the videos themselves and post them on YouTube – giving them a direct and immediate link to a global audience. The videos are also available on the Voice of Kibera, a community news website that also hosts the digital map. Residents can even post their own geo-located stories to the map using SMS.

Map Kibera used the open source tool, Ushahidi, to make the contributions via SMS possible. Ushahidi was initially developed after the 2008 Kenyan elections, to track reports of violence. It is a tool for crowdsourcing information using, e-mail, Twitter and the web as well as SMS. When someone in Kibera contributes an article, an SMS gateway filters the incoming texts according to keywords. Messages with the keyword ‘Kibera’ are fed into the Voice of Kibera website, where they are mapped using GPS coordinates, and approved by the editor before finally appearing on the site.

In 2010, the team founded the GroundTruth Initiative to support Map Kibera and other future projects. In the same year, UN Habitat awarded Map Kibera with a youth fund grant to expand its work to other parts of Nairobi, leading to co-operation with the community in another slum, Mukuru. A group in Mathare Valley, the second-largest slum in Nairobi, was also interested in creating a similar project, and, through funding from Plan International, a team is now collaborating on a participatory development programme there.

The Map Kibera Trust, which has a core membership of 30 young people, is working with similar communities in other parts of Kenya, and in Tanzania. A core aim of the Trust is to not only make people aware of openly available technology and information, but also to train local people to use them to benefit the community. The information now available to the residents of Kibera has caused a shift in power, providing them with reliable data to present their own case, and enabling to directly influence the policies that affect their lives.

By Erica Hagen and Mikel Maron
Article re-published with permission from ICT Update

Erica Hagen is a freelance writer, photographer, videographer and specialist on new media for development.
Mikel Maron is co-director of GroundTruth Initiative, and board member of OpenStreetMap Foundation

Related links

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Climate Change and African Political Stability dynamic mapping tool released

The Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) program and AidData recently released a dynamic mapping tool that allows for analysis of climate change and conflict across Africa, plus development assistance in Malawi. The mapping tool uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to enable users to select and layer combinations of CCAPS data onto one map. It also shows how conflict dynamics are changing over time and space. This tool provides an interactive medium for researchers to explore how climate change vulnerability and conflict interact, and in Malawi, to see how aid is distributed across different areas.

CCAPS climate security vulnerability data provides information on four sources of vulnerability: physical exposure to climate-related hazards, population density, household and community resilience, and governance and political violence. Chronic climate security vulnerability is located where these four sources of vulnerability conjoin.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Handbook on Participatory Land Use Planning Methods and tools developed and tested in Viengkham District, Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR

This approach puts the keys of development in the hands of local communities and avoids engaging them into endless assistance programs”; District Governor - Viengkham - 2011

Securing land tenure rights for village communities through participatory land use planning is a hot topic for policy makers, researchers and development practitioners. In Lao PDR, the government policy aimed at turning land into capital may well turn to land grabbing wherever local communities are not informed about their rights and are not involved in land use planning. PLUP is an empowerment process for villagers who get trained as land use negotiators. They learn the real value of their land and labor. The proposed PLUP method helps them to visualize land related issues, to assess the potential impact of alternative scenarios before they make decision.

While local people know well their own situation they often do not know how to collectively design a better future for the whole village through land use planning. ‘PLUP fiction’ is a learning device for land zoning and local development planning. Based on a virtual village territory visualized on a board, members of the village land management committee learn how to make informed decisions about land zoning according to the needs of different stakeholders. Using the method learned during the landscape simulation game, they negotiate their own land use zoning on the 3D model representing their village landscape. They first design their current land use by using colored pins and string on the 3D model. Then, land zones are digitized, analyzed and compared to the needs expressed by the villagers in their village action plan, i.e. village economic development, labor force availability, rice sufficiency, livestock carrying capacity, preservation of ecosystems services.

New land use plans are designed successively until all the committee members are satisfied. The iterative zoning process is facilitated by the use of a GIS software (QGIS) and an Excel based tool. On completion of the PLUP exercise, the 3D model painted with the new land use plan remains with the community.

The purpose of this PLUP Handbook is to provide practical tools and methods for PLUP implementation based on experiments conducted in Viengkham District, Luang Prabang Province. Lessons drawn from this experience have been gradually incorporated into the tools and procedures described in this Handbook and Toolbox as a reference guide for PLUP practitioners.

Publisher: National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), May 2012

A short history of the method development

At the end of 2009, a manual for Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) was published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the National Land Management Authority (NLMA) to provide a common basis for PLUP implementation in Lao PDR. This manual determined the important principles of PLUP implementation, especially in relation to community participation in the process. A diagnostic study conducted a few months later in a project implementing PLUP along the new guidelines showed that on-the-ground PLUP implementation was still problematic as some tools and methods had not been detailed in the PLUP Manual.

In 2010, participatory action-research conducted by the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI, Laos) together with relevant district line agencies (District Land Management Authority (DLMA) and the District Agriculture and Forestry Offices (DAFO) with the support of the Institute of Research for Development (IRD, France) and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia) led to an innovative PLUP method adapted to the local situation in Viengkham District, with landscapes dominated by subsistence-based shifting agriculture. The main challenge was to insure participation of the villagers and their full understanding of the planning process.

In 2011, through partnership with Agrisud project on food security and rural development the participatory approach was further improved, adding village monograph and Village Action Plan (VAP) as to prepare follow-up extension activities.

Download the handbook.