Monday, July 14, 2014

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: my PGIS learning journey – QGIS introduction and P3DM in action (blog post 4)

On July 14, I was introduced to the free and open source software (FOSS), QGIS (QuantumGIS) to be used in the PGIS process. The REBUILD Project deploys two facilitators stationed at the San Dionosio office to implement the disaster rehabilitation program and livelihood strategy. Given these circumstances, I had the opportunity to work with the QGIS software for one day. Yet, Melvin was really helpful in teaching me the QGIS essentials and introducing me to a range of FOSS GIS software applications which are available on the web. In the end, my learning process of QGIS was much easier than expected. 

Later in the day, we went to a local fishing village to work with a non-indigenous community in Sua, a Barangay (administrative unit within a municipality) located along the San Dionisio coastline. Here, we conducted a community consultation meeting. While discussing the project with the community, the importance of collaboration and participation was evident. Last June 2014, the community worked together to construct a 3D map of their location. The 3D map was overlaid with a transparent plastic sheet, where information layers were depicted by locals. From the conversations I had, the map clearly indicates an effective medium for participatory discussions. It was nice to see a couple of local Barangay councillors and their secretary, partake in the consultation process with the REBUILD Project and Green Forum-Western Visayas staff. The active participation of the Barangay officials clearly demonstrated that the local government is aware and committed to address the damages caused by the super typhoon Yolanda. The facilitating team, however, pushed for a more direct cross-disciplinary and multi-sectoral participation from those higher up in the government. Furthermore, it was recalled that while constructing the 3D model, the residents of Barangay Sua managed to outline their administrative boundary and to come to an agreement about it with the neighbouring Barangay Tiabas.

Photo credit: Melvin Purzuelo
I was struck by the ease and dynamic use of the 3D model. It did not become redundant or obsolete, even if it had been completed a month earlier. On the contrary, it gained even more relevance as a reliable repository of geo-referenced data generated by and for the community. The enthusiastic reaction demonstrated by the local women to the consultation process was really inspiring. They shared their views and opinions with respect to the need to formulate a Disaster Risk Reduction Plan which could fit well with the Community Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Both plans will be appraised by the Barangay community. The villagers themselves attest that the model will be revisited at regular intervals based on their information needs or at the request of external agencies. From my perspective, the 3D model is a true representation of the communities’ spatial knowledge concerning the entire locality and the livelihoods of the residents. The 3D model enables residents to effectively respond to emerging / changing situations.

In observing the consultation process, I was reminded that strategic decisions must offer some degree of flexibility to avoid becoming irreversible when implemented. Therefore the decision making process should be based on quality data, adequate resources and sufficient time allocation. In my opinion, the P3DM process undertaken by this community met these requirements. During the consultation I noted that the model was constantly referred to when analysing and identifying the risks inherent to their current and future livelihoods and security. The model encourages the planning and distribution of future activities in collaboration with the facilitators.

Photo credit: Melvin Purzuelo
The instances of the consultation process that are so vivid in my memory are those linked to residents showing grief and despair when sharing their stories. They explicitly used the model to describe the impact of super typhoon Yolanda and recall the life-threatening ordeal they experienced. The typhoon caused devastation, loss of property and lives and internal displacement. It severely affected to the habitats essential to the community subsistence, and in general, the existence of a once prideful fishing community. In response to such terrible consequences, the facilitating team from the REBUILD Project used the model to revive some hope in the midst of community’s despair. By autonomously analysing their situation, its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, residents were able to plan a concrete way forward leading to regain to a 'normal' way of life.

Related posts by Wilfred Don Dorovoqa :

From Solomon Islands to the Philippines: My PGIS learning journey ... 
  • Blog post 5: Participatory data extraction and digitization
  • Blog post 4: QGIS introduction and P3DM in action
  • Blog post 3: Preparations and challenging encounters ()
  • Blog post 2: My expectations
  • Blog post 1: How it all started

No comments: