Sunday, June 04, 2017

UAS or drone mapping versus conventional methods - cost and benefit analysis - two cases in Africa

The use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in aerial mapping applications is increasingly being used as an appropriate surveying method in many sectors, particularly for agriculture.
Since the use of sUAS is new to many agricultural sector players, it is useful to reflect on the costs and benefits, and related technical and operational challenges, as well as the advantages that present themselves in the practical implementation of this technology.

Download full publication:

Author(s): Volkmann, Walter
Published: 2017
Series: CTA Working Paper
Publisher(s): CTA
Type: Technical publication 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

UNICEF support to the deployment of P3DM practice in the Philippines

Through the efforts of the Philippine Geographical Society (PGS), UNICEF Philippines and its partner NGOs across the country (A2D in Cebu, CDRC in Northern Samar, and TABI in Masbate), 12 barangays were able to make their own Participatory 3D Maps (P3DMs) from January to April in 2016.

Participatory 3D Modelling for disaster risk reduction in DRC

"River partners: Managing environment and disaster risk in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" is a video report on the disaster risk reduction project funded by the EU and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Government of DRC and local communities, with the support of the European Union.

Flooding and soil erosion are major hazards that threaten the Lukaya River basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Located in the outskirts of Kinshasa, this basin is an important source of water supply for the capital. This pilot project will demonstrate how ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (eco-DRR) can be integrated into watershed development planning. Upstream and downstream river users are brought together to tackle disaster risk and development planning in a more integrated manner.

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) has been the core activity which ensured the active participation of local stakeholders.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

How participatory maps can inform national policy making: The Tampakan Copper-Gold mine case

On September 23, 2011, Sagittarius Mines, Inc., a joint venture between global giant Glencore, Australia's Indophil Resources, and Filipino firm Tampakan Group of Companies, organised a public consultation in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Philippines, to present the results of a series of feasibility studies including the results of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and inherent “safety, merits and sustainability” of the planned US$5.8-billion Tampakan Copper-Gold mining Project.

The final overall mine area was estimated at around 10,000 ha located within the boundaries of four provinces, namely South Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat, mostly forested and including a substantial portion in the Indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains. The open pit of 500 has would have been dug to a depth of 785 meters while the topsoil stockpile and pit ore stockpile would have covered areas of 5 ha and 49 ha, respectively. The company’s EIA estimated that 5,000 people, mostly of indigenous origin, were to be directly affected, and would have required re-settlement. The mining project would have had direct impact on five watersheds, around 4,000 hectares of old-growth forest and five indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains.

Consultants and executives of the company shared the finding of their studies using figures, charts and images all presenting the “expected benefits” of the proposed mining project, the largest of its kind in the Philippines and among the largest copper mines in the world to a an estimated 10,000 people crammed in the Koronadal City plaza.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development (PAFID), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) supporting the cause of Indigenous Peoples and local minorities, prepared a geo-referenced and scaled relief map of the area, to translate the technical and complex information available on the reports produced by the company via a visual and tactile interface. Building on the data provided by the mining company itself (e.g., potential stockpiles of mine tailings and wastes), the physical 3D visualisation of the mining complex - once unveiled - would have shown a different, less rosy scenario.  In the early morning before the start of the public consultation, the 3D map was sneaked into the plaza covered with a cloth.

The company’s experts - who included British, Australian and Filipino mining executives, were the first to present the results of the feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments and more, under the flashlight of local and national media, radio and TV operators.

When given the floor to react to the presentations, PAFID representative, Ms Kail Zingapan, unveiled the Participatory 3D model (P3DM) to the surprise of the mining executives, the large audience crowding the plaza and the local media.

Benefiting from the same media coverage as the mining executives, Ms Zingapan illustrated the actual and future scenarios of the Koronadal Valley and the Tampakan watersheds, where the mining operations would have taken place.

“This is the people’s map. We did not invent this,” she told the audience after unveiling the relief model. “Residents of the area showed us where their lands are located and we just plotted them on the 3D map,” Zingapan said. “We showed them the potential impact of the mining activities on the landscape and they saw that the mine development area would have included their ancestral lands. It appears that not all of them were consulted or correctly informed about the impact of the operations and the risks involved.”

According to local accounts, the audience was struck as Mr Zingapan further elaborated using the 3D map as a visual reference. She pinpointed that the company planned to build its tailings dam on an area, which is considered as sacred by the indigenous peoples. The location is also the headwater of the Mal River, which is the source of fish, of fresh water for home use and for irrigating crops. “This is your land where you live and get your food and other daily needs. It is up to you now if you want to see this land wasted and taken away from you or not,” she told the people in their local language. Her spoken words and image were amplified and accessible to the entire audience via the sophisticated multimedia system installed by the mining company for the occasion.

The visualisation of the pre and post scenarios offered by the 3D map were graphic, easy to understand and powerful, and underpinned public arguments contesting the company’s plans to mine copper and gold through the open-pit method.

The consultation ended, South Cotabato Governor Arthur Pingoy declared that he was duty-bound to implement the Province’s 2010 environment code, which bans open-pit mining. The mining company contested the “constitutionality” of the Province’s environment code and insisted that open-pit mining is the “safest method.” In 2014 the case, presented by the Europe-Third World Center (CETIM), was debated 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

In 2016, Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Lopez stated that “There will be no Tampakan mine operations under my term.” “I will never ever allow this because it’s immoral. It’s socially unjust to allow companies to put the lives of all the farmers and indigenous people at risk,” Secretary Lopez said.

On 27 April 2017, Secretary Lopez further stated that she will ban open-pit mining in the country, toughening a months-long crackdown on the sector she blames for extensive environmental damage. Among others, the ban would halt the $5.9 billion (£4.59 billion) Tampakan copper-gold project, the nation's biggest stalled mining venture. Tampakan failed to take off after the province where it is located banned open-pit mining in 2010, prompting commodities giant Glencore Plc to quit the project in 2015.

In interfacing with the press, Secretary Lopez used the same P3DM used in 2011 by Ms Zingapan to astound the audience in Koronadal City, and kick-start a process with is likely to lead to fundamental changes in the policy governing open pit mining in the Philippines.


  • Jee Y. Geronimo. 2017. DENR bans 'prospective' open-pit mines. 
  • Reuters. 2017. Philippines bans open-pit mining as minister toughens crackdown. Thu Apr 27, 2017
  • Louise Maureen Simeon. 2016. DENR thumbs down Tampakan mine project.  The Philippine Star. Updated July 28, 2016.
  • ________2016. Philippines: Details of the Tampakan project challenged.
  • CETIM. 2014. The Tampakan Copper-Gold Project and Human Rights Violations in the South Cotabato, Philippines, presented at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 2014
  • Tebtebba via the Rights and Resources Initiative. 2012. Community maps can empower indigenous peoples to assert land rights



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Participatory 3D Modelling in Western Samoa triggers behavioural changes and climate change resilience

Since 2012 the local government together with local communities in Western Samoa have carried out a total of 19 participatory 3D modelling (P3DM) exercises in the context of agroforestry management, water management and tourism development.

A participatory research was conducted between February and April 2016 to explore the effectiveness and potential of P3DM in the region. The study was done by Barbara Dovarch, PhD candidate at the Department of Architecture Design and Urban Planning, University of Sassari, Italy, sociologist and independent researcher, in partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).

This participatory impact evaluation involved diverse members of local communities and MNRE technical staff. It focused particularly on the capacity of P3DM to generate deep-seated and long-lasting behavioural changes.

The results of the study demonstrates that P3DM contributes to natural resource management and climate change resilience and showed the transformative power of the process at various levels, such as community, NGO and governmental level.

Through the P3DM process, meaningful interactions between government representatives and community members resulted in greater collaboration and mutual learning. While government representatives have changed the way they approach local communities – from ‘teaching’ to ‘listening’ – communities have also changed their attitude towards land management and development.

Download the full report via:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Participatory 3D modelling as a socially engaging approach in ecosystem service assessments among marginalized communities

Land use decision making in the Suriname Upper Suriname River area knows a history of dis-
empowerment and marginalization of the Saamaka communities inhabiting the area. Non-recognition of land rights is at the origin of this problem. This is aggravated by the increasing over-exploitation of timber resources by powerful stakeholders and the unfair distribution of timber benefits. This has left Saamakans marginalized, causing distrust and opposition among themselves and towards outsiders. Furthermore, as a result of deforestation, Saamakans face detrimental changes in the ecosystem services (ES) that support their traditional livelihoods, with important effects for their well-being.

This environment of distrust, opposition and marginalization makes it difficult to assess these concerns. Hence, an ES assessment approach that would generate salient ES knowledge while generating trust, communication among stakeholders and local capacity building was needed. In this paper we evaluate whether Participatory 3D modelling (P3DM) is an effective approach for ecosystem services assessments in such disabling environments. We evaluate this by using empirical data from an ES assessment in the Saamaka region using a P3DM approach. Results show the efficient identification and evaluation of 36 ES representing provisioning, cultural and regulating service categories with crops, fish, wild meat, timber and forest medicines identified as most important.

The authors of this paper found a decrease in the demand and supply of crops, fish and wild meat associated with ecosystem degradation, out-migration and changes in lifestyles. Further, the findings of the research show an increasing demand and decreasing supply for timber related to over-exploitation. The research provided evidence of the usefulness of P3DM to foster multi-functional landscape development among a range of communities.

In the paper the authors discuss the usefulness of the approach and the conditions needed for the P3DM process to address the needs of the local communities as well as the need for a broader P3DM implementation strategy beyond the engagement, screening, and diagnostic phases of ES assessments when the aim is to enhance ES outcomes for marginalized communities.

Download PDF version of the paper

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

How Participatory 3D Modelling has contributed to women’s personal development in Madagascar

Rural women in Ampefy and Analavory are emerging from years of years of subordination and passivity, taking charge of their own development and overcoming numerous obstacles to their emancipation. Their key role in regional development is increasingly recognised by the administrative and traditional authorities, development partners and the local community. This article shows how participatory 3-D modelling helps women fulfil their potential.

Rural development agents on a field visit to see how silting has damaged rice fields in Atalata Vaovao, a fokontany (neighbourhood) in Ampefy commune in the Itasy region of mid-western Madagascar, wondered what could have driven a pregnant woman to walk over 8 km to join them at the site. When asked what had prompted her to carry a heavy bag for several hours under the blazing sun, enduring the long journey without a word of complaint, she pointed to the badly eroded slope opposite. “Look at the damage it’s done! This hill has silted up all our rice fields. And I’m not going to stand by quietly while nothing is done to deal with this monster!” That was their introduction to Jeannette Raharimalala, a founding member of Tolotra local development committee (KF), a 10-member association created to raise awareness of the need for social and economic development in the neighbourhood. Although Tolotra is open to men, two-thirds of its members are women – individuals whose dynamism has astonished the regional director of FAFAFI, an NGO that supports development committees. Praising their “fearless and increasingly bold and enterprising approach”, she noted that “they’ve been active for several years but have made huge progress since 2015, when they first became involved in the P3DM process.”

Rural women overshadowed by men

Like their sisters in other regions of Madagascar, rural women in Atalata Vaovao are used to living in the shadow of their husbands and brothers. Men have jobs, go to the office and attend meetings, while women stay at home to look after the children, prepare meals, serve their menfolk and then retreat to the kitchen. Few women work in offices or lead organisations, and those who speak in public are frowned upon in rural Madagascar. The two main concerns for local people in this highly productive volcanic area are the land shortages and tenure issues left by the French colonial authorities, and the increasingly pressing problem of silting in their paddy fields. Recent efforts to grow out-of-season vegetables in these parcels have fizzled out and they now yield little more than weeds and stones. The community leader in Atalata, FĂ©lecitin Rakotoarimalalais, worries that “if nothing is done, my area alone stands to lose 30 hectares of rice fields in less than 10 years.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, Lake Itasy, which is the main source of income for many local people, is filling up with alluvium “so we have to travel further to catch increasingly small fish.” When the Liaison Office for Rural Training Institutions (BIMTT) introduced 3-D mapping exercises to help resolve potential conflicts in Itasy Region, the women of Atalata Vaovao were the first to turn their hand to the task despite the many constraints they face. Led by BIMTT technicians, supported by CTA and working alongside various representatives of the village, Ampefy town hall and development agencies, these women played an active role in a process that sharpened their already considerable appetite for development.

From personal development...

The 3-D model of Atalata Vaovao could not have been built without the local women, who played a key role in mobilizing community members of all ages behind the exercise. BIMTT technician Rajorosoana Razafimahatratra recalled how they acted as convenors and facilitators, “working in the corridors and leading with a quiet strength.” You’d hear them moving things along, galvanising everyone into action: “Come along now! Where’s so-and-so gone? See where they are! Can you remember what to do? You’re the only one who knows how to do it!”  Making 3-D models calls for the same kind of skills needed to organise the cooking, cleaning and laundry and get children off to school every day – and the women involved in this exercise proved much more enterprising, practical and pragmatic than the men in terms of their attention to detail, process, form, design, maintenance, getting the precise location of paths, springs and streams, updating information etc. Although the men were initially involved, it was the women who were really in charge and were best at making the model! The BIMTT technician also noted how “it improved their self-esteem and built mutual trust.” Women saw the invitation to join the model-making process as a form of recognition for their efforts. Aline Andriamampandry, secretary of the Mahiatrondro group, said that “being asked to participate means we can actually do something!” They were delighted to be able to express themselves, give an opinion, and above all be listened to. When the model was presented to the authorities and visitors (vazaha), they stood their ground like students defending their final thesis. Josephine Rasoanarilalaina, President of the Miavotra group admitted “I never thought I could do something like that!” Madagascan culture has always regarded making things as men’s work, but these women see things differently now and are determined to claim their rights. Some women from Ampefy have started land litigation procedures, while others are participating in regional elections in order to spread their ideas about development.

... to social development

Women’s personal development contributes to local social and economic development. Individual women and their groups are now recognised and consulted by their own and other communities. The communal authorities ask them about local development issues, and they act as an interface between development projects and beneficiaries. The manager of one drinking water project reported that “We use their groups whenever we need to do local awareness-raising exercises,” and said they have had a noticeable effect on community development. In the village of Mahiatrondro in the commune of Analavory, discussions sparked by the model have alerted people to the dangers of environmental degradation and are starting to have an impact on their way of thinking. Neighbourhood leader Justin Razafindrakoto reports that bushfires have halved and open defecation has been eradicated in the last two years. The 3-D model helped identify areas needing reforestation, and 1,000 saplings have been planted as part of an ongoing collaboration with the AgriSud project, which provides young plants. Having learned about the increasing scarcity of available land from the P3DM process, women have been quick to diversify their activities and started rearing livestock, fattening ducks, developing village granaries, producing and selling craftwork and acting as tourist guides. A local security service has also been set up and is now recognised by the regional court.

The knock-on effects of these experiences

The development committees in Ampefy and Analavory seem to be unstoppable! Their efforts are having knock-on effects in their own neighbourhood, and have spawned several sub-committees that are working on further community development initiatives. The neighbourhood chief was so impressed by the nine new groups (KF) that have been set up in the last two years that he incorporated them into the formal structure of his constituency, and their dynamism prompted the town hall to promulgate a communal order appointing KF members as Village Development Agents (VDAs). Their influence extends beyond their own commune to others in the district of Analavory, where their 3-D model was presented at the regional fair. Several other villages and communes in the district now intend to set up their own development committees, and these committees have become a focus for local development across the whole region of Itasy. The regional director of FAFAFI thinks the results speak for themselves. She believes that “personal development has a lasting impact on the individuals concerned and encourages sustainable community development,” and that “women are capable of doing incredible things with the right moral and technical support.”  At least one technician has been made available to work with women throughout the whole P3DM process, which is regarded as a very promising initiative by the Ministry for Population and Women’s Advancement. Its Director General, Kidja Marie Francine, has promised to support actions that help empower women.

Article written by Interview by Mamy Andriatiana for CTA

Friday, January 06, 2017

Opportunity for PGIS practitioners to map Batak ancestral lands and indigenous peoples’ and community conserved areas and territories (ICCAs) in Northern Palawan, the Philippines

The Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG) is a national coalition of indigenous peoples and local communities based in the province of Palawan (the Philippines). CALG is looking for young PGIS practitioners to help mapping Batak ancestral lands and ICCAs in northern Palawan. Specifically, they seek support for GPS-based resources inventories, geotagging of relevant locations (hunting grounds, upland farms, ritual sites, etc.).

One  aim of the project is to generate interactive maps that could serve to raise awareness on how the Batak of Palawan manage and perceive their cultural landscape. The interactive display of satellite imagery, enriched with location-based multimedia and other  layers of information, would also provide evidence of on-going threats to forest resources and Batak livelihood and cultural integrity.

Social cartography, emphasizing culturally distinct understanding of landscape, will be overlapped with geo-spatial maps.  The former will include the use of local place names, information on the actual and historical land uses, oral traditions, cosmovisions and testimonies linked to short video-clips syndicated from Google Video or You Tube, photographs (via Panoramio) and text.

CALG envisages that these maps would become the discursive patrimony of the Batak indigenous people and provide them with the necessary legal evidence to apply for Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) and to have their ICCAs included in the ICCA Registry of the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

The project is on-going and it will end in June 2018.  Assistance for geotagging and mapping is particularly sought during the dry season (between February and May 2017), depending on the availability of PGIS practitioners.  Due to global climate changes, dry season is not necessarily confined to the period mentioned above, but could also extend up to June.

selected candidates will receive free food and lodging during the research, domestic travel costs will be reimbursed and a basic honorarium based on Philippine’s standards will be provided.

During the various stages of project implementation CALG and PGIS practitioners will closely collaborate with the Batak Federation (Bayaan it Batak kat Palawan – BBKP).

Those interested can approach the Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG) through this email address:

Most recent CALG geotagged reports