Monday, December 14, 2009

Community mapping in Borneo

Community members and park naturalists have completed a participatory 3-dimensional scaled model of the Buayan-Kionop area showing areas important for community livelihoods. The pproject, funded by the Darwin Initiative, is designed to contribute to the nomination of the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve. Work began in August 2009 with local partners and 10 indigenous communities. Local researchers from Buayan-Kionop are sharing their skills with neighbouring communities to document and map community livelihood patterns for the entire Ulu Papar area. They have been using a range of techniques, including participatory GIS and participatory 3-dimensional modelling (P3DM) to show areas important for cultivation, hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products. Over the next 3 years, we will build on the participatory research results in Buayan-Kionop and create spaces for community dialogue on balancing conservation and sustainable resource use in the Crocker Range.

More information on the programme is found here.

Source: Agnes Lee Agama, Southeast Asia coordinator, Global Diversity Foundation update December 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eco-cultural mapping to protect natural resources and sacred sites, South Africa

The case of the vhaVenda people echoes throughout many other rural areas in Africa and amongst other groups of traditional and indigenous peoples – the loss of communally owned territories, the expansion of industrial plantations and non-sustainable forms of land and resource use including tourism, the erosion of cultural values and sacred sites. With support from CTA, women, men and youth from Tshidzivhe community, in Limpopo province, northern South Africa, spent six days exploring ways to ‘map’ their traditional knowledge and practices for managing their natural resources. As the different maps were finished, the local people celebrated their new capacity to express traditional environmental knowledge in an appropriate way for gaining recognition, reviving traditional practices and securing their rights.

This was a unique mapping experience that involved local people as well as indigenous from other parts of the world. More than 70 vhaVenda people took part, guided by trainers in eco-cultural mapping from Colombia and accompanied by indigenous leaders from the Colombian Amazon and the Russian Republic of Altai. The process required the full participation of community members, especially the elders and the makhadzis, women custodians of sacred sites, but with minimal materials or technology.

Four maps and two ecological calendars were produced, covering what the local population refers to as “Venda territory” and with special attention to the main sacred sites. The maps show the changes and alterations to the land - the past, present and future visions - and the importance of recovering traditional practices and rituals.

Trainees from Kenya and Ethiopia, members of the African Biodiversity Network, took part and hope to carry out similar workshops in their respective countries in 2010.

Photos by Will Baxter, text by Fiona Wilton / The Gaia Foundation

Friday, November 13, 2009

Peter Poole reports on his experience with community mapping

In this interview, Peter Poole traces the evolution of a map-making methodology which commenced with his introduction of GPS to the Inuit community of Pangnirtung in 1989 and was incubated throughout the 1990’s by a series of ‘tenure mapping’ projects in the Amazon the Arctic and Asia. Tenure maps depict indigenous names, resources and special places on scaled maps, intended as evidence in negotiating land settlements.

Most tenure mapping methods rely upon external cartographic expertise. The “no-name” method enables communities to control the complete information cycle: gathering raw data, their conversion to information, its application.

The interview describes the search for cheap, simple, appropriate geomatic technology.

During several tenure mapping projects in the Amazon, a two-tier arrangement evolved whereby community-based teams would gather raw field data, the most critical task, and indigenous associations or support NGO’s, set up mapping units to serve the field teams.

The interview shifts focus to an overview of global community mapping completed by Peter Poole. In this, he concluded that, in terms of expertise, accessibility and accomplishment, the Philippines. He also drew a broad distinction to tenure mapping in America, a continent whose indigenous peoples sharing a in common ‘500 years since Columbus’ experience, and Africa, where this model does not work and where community mapping is taking off in a refreshing variety of directions.

The interview concludes with three lessons learned:
  • Yes, communities can make their own scaled maps.
  • The most successful of emerging mapping centres are those whose services are accessible to all communities.
  • This capacity-building approach to map making equips and inspires people to diversify their skills in environmental information management. These skills will be wasted unless provisions are made to follow up tenure mapping projects with either further training or employment.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Dave De Vera elaborates on Participatory GIS practice in the Philippines

Dave De Vera is the Executive Director of the Philippine Association For Intercultural Development (PAFID). In his interview Dave elaborates on the use of Participatory GIS practice in the Philippines to support indigenous communities in filing ancestral land claims. He elaborates on the mapping methods used, explains why P3DM is the most effective, and arguments on the need for local ownership of the process, competency of the technology intermediary, quality work, and constructive relationships with Government. Dave further lists cases of PAFID / Government partnerships and analyses the pillars of process legitimization.

Indigenous Peoples in Africa prepare for Copenhagen - REDD and human rights

With funding support from CTA, fifteen indigenous African leaders from East and Central Africa met in Bujumbura, Burundi to finalise a joint strategy and statement on climate change. Leaders from forest based communities in Gabon, Cameroon, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya participated in a joint UNIPROBA-IPACC policy meeting from 26-27 October 2009 to set out their concerns, priorities, action plan and statement ahead of the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, due to take place in Copenhagen Denmark.

Delegates emphasised that indigenous peoples are important stakeholders in climate stabilisation in Africa. Indigenous leaders must educate their communities as to the causes and engage with national governments about equitable and sustainable responses. Delegates reported back on mitigation / REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) workshops that were held this year in Cape Town, Kampala, Nanyuki (Kenya) and Libreville, Gabon. The primary issues were to promote a fair and community-focused approach to REDD plus financing for forest conservation in Africa.

Government forestry officials from Uganda and Kenya gave presentations on how their governments are contracting with local communities to conserve tropical forests, and introduce new forms of carbon financing.

Jeniffer Koinante, Deputy Chairperson of IPACC gave a presentation on how the forest-based indigenous peoples of Kenya are using Participatory 3-Dimensional Models (P3DM) to help them review traditional adaptation customs, knowledge and practices, which could be harnessed to strengthen resilience of ecosystems and communities in the face of climate change.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity makes reference to P3DM done by Ogiek Peoples

The 420-page UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity has been launched by the Director-General, to the attention of the Permanent Delegates to the 35th session of the General Conference, on Tuesday 20 October 2009.

The use of participatory three-dimensional modelling (P3DM) by the Ogiek Peoples in Kenya is cited in section 2.4 as an example of local Empowerment (see page 52 of the report).

Specifically the report makes reference to the article published by Rambaldi et al. on Information Development in 2007: Through the eyes of hunters-gatherers: Participatory 3D modelling among the Ogiek indigenous peoples in Kenya.

It is worth noting that the power of participatory mapping coupled with Web 2.0 commnunication tools (ppgis list, blog, YouTube, etc) coupled with actions undertaken by concerned stakeholders, have raised the concerns faced by a minority group like the Ogiek at the forefront of public opinion.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dr. Robert Chambers elaborates on Participatory GIS (PGIS) practice

Dr. Robert Chambers from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, reflects on the intersection of participatory development and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and on the resulting good and bad practices. In the interview Dr. Chambers calls on practitioners and development agencies to ensure that good practice is put in place to avoid the repetition of the misuse of PRA (i.e. Participatory Rural Appraisal) done in the 80's and 90's.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The future of environmental law mapping

Laurent Granier from ecocy recently wrote an essay on the future of environmental law mapping where he argues GIS and mapping tools are transforming our vision of legal data, “from vertical books to horizontal maps”. Drawing on examples of online mapping tools and representations, including participatory GIS, he shows a tendency for law and policy makers to aggregate administrative and legal layers in maps, towards more and more legally binding tools.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pister la Vie Sauvage dans l'Age de la Cybernétique

Le CTA a fait paraître dernièrement une vidéo éducative sur la technologie CyberTracker. La vidéo est un élément d’un paquet pédagogique, destiné à promouvoir les bonnes pratiques en matière de production, de gestion, d’analyse et de communication de l’information géospatiale. D’une durée de 8 minutes, la vidéo est disponible en anglais, français, espagnol et met l’accent sur de nombreux domaines dans lesquels cette technologie peut être utilisée à des fins de développement et de conservation de l’environnement.

CyberTracker est un logiciel en libre accès (open source) mis au point en Afrique du Sud par l’ONG CyberTracker Conservation avec, à l’origine, le soutien financier de la Commission Européenne. Il peut être installé sur tout appareil portable équipé d’un GPS – un Assistant numérique personnel (PDA) ou un Smartphone, par exemple – et permet de recueillir des données géoréférencées avec des annotations numériques détaillées. C’est un moyen extrêmement efficace de stocker de grandes quantités d’observations géocodées faites sur le terrain, à une vitesse et avec un niveau de précision et de détail inédits. CyberTracker permet aux utilisateurs de personnaliser l’interface pour mieux l’adapter à leurs besoins de collecte de données. Les écrans sont configurés de manière à pouvoir combiner du texte et des icônes, pour garantir ainsi une efficacité et une personnalisation optimales. L’interface icônes de l’application CyberTracker a été initialement conçue pour les pisteurs qui ne pouvaient ni lire ni écrire. Aujourd’hui, tous les utilisateurs – y compris scientifiques et écologistes – mettent à profit cette interface icônes parce qu’elle permet de saisir les données beaucoup plus rapidement.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Educational Video ob CyberTracker - Tracking in the Cyber Age

The CTA recently released an educational video on CyberTracker technology. The video has been produced in the context of the development of a training kit aimed at supporting the spread of good practice in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information. This 8-min video on CyberTracker covers a number of uses to which geospatial information technology (GIT) can be put to work in the contexts of development and conservation.

CyberTracker is an open-source software developed in South Africa by the Cybertracker Conservation with financial support initially provided of by the European Commission. It can be installed on a GPS-enabled handheld device such as a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or a Smartphone to collect geo-referenced data with detailed digital notation. It is a highly efficient way to gather large quantities of geo-coded field observations at a speed and level of detail not possible before. CyberTracker allows users to customise the interface to meet data collection needs. Screen designs can combine text and icons to optimise efficiency and customisation. The CyberTracker icon interface was originally designed for trackers who could not read or write. Nowadays all users including scientists and conservationists benefit from the icon-based interface because it enables significantly faster data entry.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Participatory 3D Modelling: a Review ...

Giacomo Rambaldi makes a summary of his involvement in the improvement, development, promotion and dissemination of a participatory mapping method better known asl Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM).

Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) is a community-based mapping method which integrates local spatial knowledge with data on elevation of the land and depth of the sea to produce stand-alone, scaled and geo-referenced relief models. Essentially based on local spatial knowledge, land use and cover, and other features are depicted by informants on the model by the use of pushpins (points), yarns (lines) and paints (polygons). On completion, a scaled and geo-referenced grid is applied to facilitate data extraction or importation. Data depicted on the model are extracted, digitised and plotted. On completion of the exercise the model remains with the community. More information on the method are available at

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Une modélisation participative en 3D du paysage montagneux historique de Wechecha (Éthiopie)

MELCA Mahiber, ONG éthiopienne membre du réseau African Biodiversity Network (ABN), a contribué à la construction d'une carte participative en 3D (CP3D) du paysage montagneux historique de Wechecha, dans la région d'Oromia, à côté des woredas de Walmara et Sebeta Awas, en Éthiopie.

Une fois achevée, la maquette a été inaugurée par un représentant du Président de la République fédérale démocratique d'Éthiopie. Cette cérémonie a réuni plus de 500 personnes, parmi lesquelles des membres du Conseil des représentants des peuples, des membres du gouvernement et des représentants d'organisations internationales, d'organisations de la société civile et de collectivités locales.

Construite à l'échelle 1:10 000, la maquette reproduit une zone de 24 km sur 28 km. Plus de 40 élèves et membres d'associations de jeunes ont participé à la construction de la maquette initiale, que les habitants de la région, notamment les anciens, ont été invités à enrichir de leurs connaissances géographiques. Au cours du processus, des informations sur le massif ont été échangées entre les différentes générations, mais aussi avec les collectivités locales et d'autres parties prenantes, ouvrant la porte à des débats de fond sur la gestion et la protection durables de la culture et de l'environnement à l'échelle locale. Les gouverneurs de la région se sont montrés extrêmement favorables à ce projet, jouant un rôle actif au sein du processus, aux côté des organisateurs.

Ce projet avait pour ambition de collecter des données sur le savoir écologique traditionnel des communautés de la région pour le valoriser. Ainsi, les autorités externes lui accorderont davantage d'importance lors de la gestion collaborative des ressources naturelles. L'objectif secondaire du projet consistait à améliorer la transmission de ce savoir aux nouvelles générations.

Maintenant que la maquette est achevée, elle servira d'environnement de référence où habitants, membres du gouvernement et différentes parties prenantes pourront débattre de programmes de gestion et de réhabilitation.

Kalkidan, 15 ans, est une élève de l'école d'Holeta. Elle est consciente que sa génération a appris énormément des anciens de la région grâce à cette maquette. Elle s'est exprimée ainsi lors de l'inauguration : « Nous, les jeunes, ne pensions pas que les anciens en savaient autant. Mais après avoir participé à la construction de cette maquette participative en 3D, nous sommes désormais convaincus que nos anciens sont une mine d'informations sur l'environnement ». Elle a rappelé qu'au cours de ce projet, ce sont les anciens qui ont tenu le premier rôle.

Lors de la cérémonie, des anciens ont montré l'emplacement de leur village d'origine sur la maquette, avec des anecdotes. Ils n'ont pas pu cacher leur désarroi envers la dégradation de la région, et ont demandé aux organismes concernés de tenter de résoudre ce problème. Les membres du gouvernement ont également approuvé la maquette et rappelé qu'elle ne se résumait pas à un simple objet de décoration.

Le Dr Tewoldebithan G/Egziabher, directeur de l'autorité fédérale de protection de l'environnement et président de l'assemblée générale de MELCA, a remis la maquette à la ville d'Holeta et à l'administration du woreda de Walmara au nom de son association. Il a demandé à l'administration d'utiliser la maquette comme référence topographique.

Million Belay, directeur du MELCA, a annoncé de nouvelles initiatives. Un processus de planification à grande échelle sera lancé pour réhabiliter le paysage montagneux de Wechecha, en s'appuyant principalement sur la maquette. Les écoles situées au pied des montagnes intégreront la maquette à leur programme, à l'instar de la région de Nessuit (Kenya), qui possède une maquette comparable depuis 2006. Les enseignants l'utiliseront pour aider les élèves à connaître leur environnement, la géographie et les paysages culturels. Par ailleurs, Million Belay a annoncé que la maquette en 3D servirait à des fins scientifiques, pour étudier d'une part la relation entre habitants et environnement, et d'autre part les conséquences de la dégradation des terres sur les moyens de subsistance des communautés locales.

Auteur : Giacomo Rambaldi

Participatory 3D Model of the historical Wechecha mountain complex, Ethiopia

MELCA Mahiber, an Ethiopian NGO which is part of the African Biodiversity Network (ABN) facilitated the construction of a Participatory 3 Dimensional Model (P3DM) of the historical Wechecha mountain complex, which is found in Oromiya Regional State, adjacent to Wolmera and Sebeta Awas Woreda in Ethiopia.

Once completed the model has been inaugurated by a Representative of the President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Over 500 people participated in the ceremony including members of the House of People Representative Councils, governmental officials and representatives from international organizations, CSO and local communities.

The 1:10.000 scale model covers an area of 24 km by 28 km. Over 40 students and representatives from youth groups constructed the blank model. Residents of the area, especially elders, were invited to populate the map with their spatial knowledge. In the process information about the mountain area has been shared across generations and between local communities and other stakeholders, opening the door for deeper discussions on the sustainable management and safeguarding of both local culture and environment. The local Governors were very supportive. They played an active role in the process together with the organisers.

The objective of the exercise was to document the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of resident communities, and add value and authority to it in order to increase the value external authorities would attach to it when it comes to collaborative natural resource management. A second objective of the exercise was to enhance the transfer of TEK the younger generations.

Now thet the model is completed it will as a reference environment where local people, government officials and other stakeholders can discuss management and rehabilitation plans.

Kalkidan is a 15-year old student at Holeta Primary School. She witnessed how this model created an opportunity for her and her friends to learn a lot from the local elders. At the inauguration she stated the following: “We youngsters didn’t think that elders know, but now, after participating in the construction of this Participatory 3 Dimensional Model, we are convinced that our elders have a deep knowledge about their environment” She recalled that the elders were the main actors on the scene.

At the ceremony Elders locaed their places of origin on the model and talked about them. They couldn’t hide their feeling that their area is becoming degraded and pleaded for concerned bodies to address this problem. The government representatives also endorsed the model and reiterated that it should not be just for looking at and admiring.”

Dr. Tewoldebithan G/Egziabher, Director of the Federal Environmental Protection Authority and Chairman of MELCA’s General Assembly delivered the model to Holeta Town and Wolmera Woreda Administrations on behalf of MELCA. He told to the Administrations to use the model as a reference for taking measures.

According to Million Belay the Director of MELCA related initiatives will follow: There will be an intensive planning process aiming at rehabilitating the Wechecha Mountain complex and we will ensure that the model will be central to it. Schools located at the foothills of the mountain will make use of the model in their curriculum like it is currently happening in Nessuit Kenya, where a similar model has been constructed in 2006. Teachers use it to facilitate pupils learning about their environment, geography and cultural landscapes. In addition, Mr. Belay stated that the 3D model will be used for scientific research, on the relationship between people and the environment, and to study the impacts of land degradation on the livelihood of local communities.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ogiek Appeal to the Kenya Government Notice to vacate Mau Forest Complex and other water towers

Joseph K. Sang, representative from the Ogiek community in Nessuit Kenya, launches an appeal to the Government of Kenya following an eviction notice published on all mayor newspapers on August 25, 2009 and concerning the vacation of the Mau Forest Complex by all illegal occupants.

Francis Kakwetin Lesingo reports on the use of a 1:10,000 scale 3D model in Nessuit Kenya

Mr. Francis Kakwetin Lesingo - a representative from the Ogieks living in the Mau complex (Nakuru,Kenya) - reports back on the use of a 1:10,000 scale georeferenced physical 3d model manufactured by 26 ogiek clans in 2006 and 2007 in Nessuit Kenya. The initiative has benefitted from technical and financial assistance provided by CTA, Ermis Africa, the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and the Gaia Foundation UK.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Touch Table for participatory land use planning

This video shows how the Touch Table can be used to support land use planning with multiple stakeholders with multiple interests

Friday, September 18, 2009

Web-Based GIS and the Future of Participatory GIS Applications within Local and Indigenous Communities

As resource managers search for strategies to meet the challenges posed by intense competition for scarce local resources, the implementation of Community-based GIS applications have become widespread. Besides mapping, the Participatory GIS (PGIS) projects create a peaceful medium for community groups and public officials to meet, exchange views and also learn to develop trust for each other. However, PGIS projects face many problems including the lack of basic supporting infrastructure and services. The adoption of the Internet as a platform for PGIS applications therefore raises concerns about the future of PGIS projects. While the Internet may open the participatory process, it can also hinder participation among local groups. In an era when PGIS applications have become important in the management of local resources, there is an urgent need to examine implications of the On-line PGIS project. Accordingly, in their paper, by the title Web-Based GIS and the Future of Participatory GIS Applications within Local and Indigenous Communities, Peter Kyem and James Saku assess the potential benefits and drawbacks of on-line PGIS applications within local communities.

Applications of GIS in Community Forestry: Linking Geographic Information Technology to Community Participation

Planning and managing forest resources in todays ever-changing world is becoming very complex and demanding challenges to forest resource managers. Because of the multiple interests of forest users and other community interest groups, a wider range of up-to-date information is being requested in community forestry, than has been used in conventional government-based forest management in the past. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related technologies provide foresters and resource planners with powerful tools for planning, management and decision making. Recent trend towards community based forest management has added new dimensions and potential to use of GIS in community forestry. This book explores the potential and constraints for the application of GIS technology in community based forestry. This book will be of interest to forest managers, community development practitioners, researchers and students interested in using GIS technology in forestry and participatory GIS.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How to create a "My Map" in Google Maps

How to create personalized, annotated, customized maps using Google Maps.

Here is an example: P3DM Where?

Head teacher Julius Sangogo reports on the usefullness of a Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) in Nessuit, Kenya

Head teacher Julius Sangogo reports on the usefullness of a Participatory 3D Model in Nessuit, Kenya from CTA on Vimeo.

Three years after the completion of a Participatory 3D model in Nessuit Kenya, head teacher Julius Sangogo recalls the uses of the model by local, national and international agencies and more importantly by the pupils of the local primary school.

The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon

Part 1 The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon from ILD on Vimeo.

A film directed by James Becket
Conceived of and written by Hernando de Soto
Produced by Bernardo Roca Rey and Hernando de Soto
Research Director Ana Lucía Camaiora
A Becket Films LLC and Institute for Liberty and Democracy Production

Part 2 The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon from ILD on Vimeo.

A film directed by James Becket Conceived of and written by Hernando de Soto Produced by Bernardo Roca Rey and Hernando de Soto Research Director Ana Lucía Camaiora A Becket Films LLC and Institute for Liberty and Democracy Production

Part 3 The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon from ILD on Vimeo.

A film directed by James Becket Conceived of and written by Hernando de Soto Produced by Bernardo Roca Rey and Hernando de Soto Research Director Ana Lucía Camaiora A Becket Films LLC and Institute for Liberty and Democracy Production

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) of Chivoko village, Solomon Islands

A total of 60 representatives from the Chivoko community including youth, elders, women and men, students and chiefs; representatives from "Sasamunga Live and Learn", The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the "Lauru Land Conference of Tribal Communities" (LLCTC), and the Choiseul Provincial Fisheries constructed a 1:20,000 scale Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) of Chivoko village in the Tavula ward, Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands. The model covering a total area of 192 sq km is the 1st if its kind in Solomon Islands.

The model has been done to serve a key negotiation tool for the Chivoko community to map out the watershed and coastal areas it depends on to address the challenges facing sustainable resource management and conservation. The initiative aims at securing the conservation of the Chivoko Watershed forests (approx 8000 ha) and place them legally beyond the reach of industrial logging ventures. The project will draw on national expertise to produce a collaborative watershed management plan which will provide guidance for sustainable forest development practices by a community cooperative.

More information is found here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Qualitative GIS: A Mixed Methods Approach

'Qualitative GIS is coming of age, and this definitive collection explains why it deserves broad attention. These carefully selected essays by leading researchers, organized around a broad conception of qualitative GIS that extends beyond multi-media data integration to embrace new software tools and interpretive, situated epistemologies, will push readers to rethink not only their preconceptions about qualitative GIS, but also about GI science and critical GIS. GIS researchers, practitioners, observers and users will find much to chew on here' - Professor Eric Sheppard, University of Minnesota, USA

Geographic Information Systems are an essential tool for analyzing and representing quantitative spatial data. Qualitative GIS explains the recent integration of qualitative research with Geographical Information Systems

With a detailed contextualising introduction, the text is organised in three sections:

Representation: examines how researchers are using GIS to create new types of representations; working with spatial data, maps, and othervisualizations to incorporate multiple meanings and to provide texture and context. This section includes a chapter by Jon Corbett and Giacomo Rambaldi dealing with participatory mapping by the title: "Geographic information technologies, local knowledge, and change (pages 75-91).

Analysis: discusses the new techniques of analysis that are emerging at the margins between qualitative research and GIS, this in the wider context of a critical review of mixed-methods in geographical research

Theory: questions how knowledge is produced, showing how ideas of 'science' and 'truth' inform research, and demonstrates how qualitative GIS can be used to interrogate discussions of power, community, and social action

Making reference to representation, analysis, and theory throughout, the text shows how to frame questions, collect data, analyze results, and represent findings in a truly integrated way. An important addition to the mixed methods literature, Qualitative GIS will be the standard reference for upper-level students and researchers using qualitative methods and Geographic Information Systems.

Available from (US) and (Europe)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Discrete Community Mapping in Sudan

On Wednesday July 22, the Abyei Arbitration Council will announce its “Award”at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. Latest act in a train of events since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 by Southern and Northern Sudan.

In 2005, the CPA also created the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal (AAT) which issued a Final and Binding Ruling on the north-south border – which could become an international border following a referendum on Southern Sudan independence slated for 2011.

Kharthoum rejected this Ruling, causing a stalemate until May 2008 when the town of Abyei, ancestral centre for the Ngok Dinka, was methodically sacked by a combination of Misseriya militias and troops from Khartoum - displacing 60,000 residents as collateral.

The border delineated by the AAT had been based on exhaustive interviews with elders from the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms, coupled with equally exhaustive historical map research. But, none of the sites mentioned by the elders, as evidence of ancestral occupancy, had been geocoded with GPS. The purpose of this mapping project was to rectify that with a repeat performance using GPS.

A legal team, from the US-based Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) and London-based WilmerHale, along with Southern Sudanese, colleagues re-interviewed the elders during a week long conference of all nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms to plan the restoration of Abyei. During that same week, a team of 12 Ngok Dinka were trained in the use GPS units, videos and still cameras. At the same time, the lawyers’ interviews provided the information about the significant historical sites needed by the team to build up a legend. For litigational reasons beyond my understanding it was essential to demonstrate that, by 1905, Ngok Dinka had occupied an area well to the north of Abyei town.

Ngok Dinka memory stretched far further back than 1905. A principle signifier of historical occupancy were sites identified with Names for Age Sets, which were changed every ten years. The elders recited age set names and places going back centuries, the oldest stretched to 1508.
The mapping method was simple. Following the Abyei restoration conference, the team visited each chiefdom in turn and spent a day talking with 25 elders, going over recorded sites and seeking more. They then divided into three units and three vehicles, and selected elders guided them to the sites that had been listed. In two stints over the last winter, the mapping team, covered the disputed area and recorded almost 300 sites. Each evening the mapping log book were written up and emailed to International Mapping, Baltimore, US.

With the critical area covered, it was decided that, for the few days remaining the mapping teams, elders, and lawyers, would travel further north – to sites identified by the elders but outside the area that was critical for the Southern Sudan-Ngok Dinka case.

This brought the project to the attention of officials representing Northern Sudan. They were not too happy about it but all the required data was by then at the cartographers in Baltimore. The last few days were spent either under military escort, or waiting for an escort to materialize, or waiting for it to finish eating somewhere. Three trips were eventually made. To varying degrees they were high on inter-group tension but low on data utility so these data do not appear on the around Abyei. Shortly after, there were rumours of a Kharthoum-driven counter mapping effort, but it was too late.

With only a week of training and field exercises under their belts, the Ngok Dinka mapping team did outstanding work. During the recent Abyei Arbitration Tribunal hearing, lawyers for Kharthoum made a serious effort to dismiss their maps as “tainted data” but in the final exchange, they were outplayed by the legal team for Southern Sudan. For anyone seeking field workers in Southern Sudan, there are now several trained and contactable, but jobless, community information gathering and mapping people in circulation in the Abyei area. The

Verdict will be on this site on Wednesday. For a good, detailed account of the Abyei issue visit the Enough Project.

Read also: Dr. Peter Poole 2009. Ngok Dinka Abyei Area Community Mapping Project report, February 2009

Peter Poole, 21 July 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Map symbols and coding means

Map symbols should be designed or chosen according to principles of logic and communication to serve as a graphic code for storing and retrieving data in a two or three dimensional geographic framework.

Appreciating the logic of map symbols begins with understanding the existence of three distinct categories, including point, line and polygons (areas).

Maps and 3D models include generally a combination of all three. These tree main categories can be further differentiated by variations in "hue" (color), "gray tone value", "texture" and "orientation", "shape" and "size".

Each of these variables or their combinations excel in portraying particular features and their variations.

When using color (hue) for characterizing areas, decoding is made simpler when darker means "more" and lighter means "less". Color conventions allow map symbols to exploit idealized associations of water with blue and forested areas with green. This the combination of the two, implies that dense primary forest is dark green, secondary forest green, and grassland light green, and that deep waters are dark blue and shallow waters light blue .

"Size" is more suited to for showing different in amount of count, whereas "variations in gray tone" are preferred for distinguishing differences in rate or intensity. Symbols varying in orientation are useful mostly for representing directional occurrences like winds, migration streams or other. Line symbols best portray water courses, roads, trails, boundaries and may combine different variables, including color and size (thickness). A heavier line readily suggests greater capacity or heavier traffic than a thin line implies.

Each symbol should be easily discernable from all others to clearly distinguish unlike features and provide a sense of graphic hierarchy. A poor match between the data and the visual variables may frustrate and confuse the map user.

While in planimetric mapmaking the only limitation in the choice of symbols is fantasy (with logic), participatory 3-D modeling (P3DM) frequently depends on the availability of materials, particularly for point features which are generally represented by push and map pins. Lines and polygons can be easily represented by color-coded yarns and different color paints.

Standardization of symbols serves for ready unambiguous recognition of features and promotes efficiency in both map production and use, exchange of data and comparison. Maps and models sharing a common graphic vocabulary are definitely more powerful in convening the intended message and decoding simpler.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

P3DM after the 2007 World Summit Award

In November 2007 "Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) for Resource Use, Development Planning and Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Fiji" was proclaimed as one of the four winners of the “Worlds Best e-Content 2007” in the World Summit Award category e-Culture.

Here is an account of what has happened since the exercise was carried out in Fiji.

Since 2005 (year in which the project in Fiji was implemented) Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) and been adopted in development contexts in many parts of the world ( including Cambodia, Colombia, East Timor, Ethiopia, France, Guyana, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, PNG, Australia and other countries.

The 2007 WSA recognition added value and authority to the method and gave worldwide recognition to its quality and appropriateness.

In Kenya P3DM been used by Ogiek, Yiaku and Sengwer Indigenous Peoples to document their biophysical and cultural landscapes. The objectives of these community-led interventions included enhancing inter-generational information exchange, adding value and authority to local knowledge, improving communication with mainstream society, improving planning on sustainable management of natural resources and addressing territorial disputes.

In Ethiopia P3DM has been used to assist stakeholders in the Bale region to plan out sustainable management of the area, revive their bio-cultural diversity and support local environmental education.

The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), a pan-African network of 150 organisations adopted the method and is spearheading its adoption in the African Continent to improve awareness at policy-making level on the relevance of location-specific traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in climate change adaptation and mitigation processes. Read more.

UNESCO has been supporting the adoption of P3DM in Niger and Kenya in the context of the of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage paying specific attention on the opportunity for safeguarding traditional ecological knowledge as part of overall intangible cultural heritage and its integration into the education curricula.

In collaboration with national and regional partner organisations, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA) is supporting the dissemination and adoption of P3DM practice in ACP countries. Regional capacity building exercises are scheduled in Central Africa (Gabon and DCR), West Africa (Niger) and Southern Africa (Botswana) in 2010 and 2011.

In collaboration with a number of development agencies, CTA is spearheading the production of a training kit supporting the spread of good practice in generating, managing, analysing and communicating spatial information. The kit includes a module on participatory 3D Modelling.

Other initiatives include the ongoing online participatory translation of a video documentary on P3DM “Giving the Voice to the Unspoken” using the free platform

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sculpture and Science help in Planning to Preserve The Mutton Hole Wetlands in Australia

A 3D model of the Mutton Hole Wetlands near Normanton has been developed as a starting point for community consultation and discussion about how best to preserve and use the Mutton Hole Wetlands.

The Mutton Hole Wetlands are situated just to the North and West of Normanton, and are a part of the Southern Gulf Aggregation, the largest continuous wetland of its type in northern Australia. Being vital for bird migration routes across northern Australia, the Southern Gulf Aggregation is considered to be of state, national and international significance.

In the past the wetlands formed part of the neighbouring Mutton Hole cattle station, but the area was declared a Conservation Park in 2004. Currently managed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife, Carpentaria Shire Council has been considering managing the park themselves. As a part of this consideration the Northern Gulf Resource Management Group has gained funding to write a management plan for the wetland.

The management plan will highlight Aboriginal culture as well as the environmental values of the wetland in a plan to conserve it for future generations. There is strong support from the scientific and local community for use of the wetlands for bird watching, teaching and eco-tourism. As a step towards greater community consultation a model of the wetland area was built and is now located in the Normanton Visitor Information Centre (Burns Philp Building).

Over six weeks in April and May 2009 students and staff from Normanton State School and the Gulf Christian College worked together with Dr Isla Grundy of CSIRO to construct a 3D model of the Mutton Hole Wetlands, using a technique called Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM).

The model was made by first tracing the image of the wetlands from a 1:9500 satellite image onto a large piece of cardboard, then other features were added on or cut out. Finally, the rest of the landscape was painted onto the cardboard and the boundary of the Conservation Park marked with thread.

P3DM is a relatively new technique developed in the Philippines to support collaborative resource use and management, aimed to facilitate community participation in problem analysis and decision-making. This is the first time this participatory technique has been used to make a landscape model from cardboard in Australia.

Since mid-May 2009 the model has been displayed at the Normanton Visitors Information Centre and on Thursday 21st May there was a formal public opening when students, parents and interested community members came to see what the schools had been working on. The exhibition was opened by Vicki Jones of Northern Gulf, along with Isla Grundy of CSIRO and Agnes Hughes from Normanton State School. The forty or so people who attended were able to take a closer look at the model and discuss wetland history and potential use. The community at large was invited to give it’s opinions and ideas on how the Mutton Hole Wetlands should be managed and used in the future through individual community consultations and group discussions held at the Information Centre.

Dr Isla Grundy
Community Agro-Ecologist CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems,
JCU / CSIRO Tropical Landscapes Joint Venture
Australian Tropical Forest Institute, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD 4870

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Interview with Mr. Million Belay, coordinator and facilitator of the P3DM exercise recently conducted in Bale, Ethiopia

Q1: Dear Million, could you briefly introduce yourself and the organisation you are working for?

My name is Million Belay. I am Ethiopian. I am a graduate in Tourism and Conservation, currently doing PhD on bio-cultural diversity. I am the director of MELCA Ethiopia.

Q2: In 2006 you attended a training on Participatory 3D Modelling (P3DM) organised by CTA in collaboration with ERMIS-Africa in Nessuit, Kenya. At that time what were your thoughts about the P3DM method?

I was not sure about it. It did not strike me as something special. But after seeing how it has mobilized the knowledge of the local community, I was really impressed. I have some experiences in community mapping but P3DM was beyond my expectations. I still feel as if I know the Mau complex even if I did not visit it physically.

Q3: Did you think about replicating the P3DM process in Ethiopia?

Yes very much. That was what was in my mind since I came from Kenya. I had to wait for the right time though.

Q4: How did you go about organising the exercise in Bale?

The P3DM handbook (Participatory 3D Modelling: Guiding Principles and Applications) was extremely useful. The website was also an excellent source of complementary information. I could get almost all of the answers from the handbook. My communication with Giacomo Rambaldi from CTA was a huge help. Our face to face discussion in at the IUCN World Congress in Barcelona also helped a lot, although one has to live through the experience to really understand it. I had to use substitutions for the materials suggested in the guide. I had to encounter a difficulty to understand what some of the recommended inputs were meant to serve for. Every bit was a challenge and meeting those challenges was an exhilarating experience.

Q5: You have now undergone a P3DM process in the role of lead facilitator. What are your most important considerations in terms of participation of knowledge holders in the process?

I think that P3DM is an excellent tool for community participation. The first group of participants was challenged. We had about seven groups. We prepared the map legend before the model has started. After it was assembled, we invited the first community and asked them for a feedback. They changed some legend items. There was a heated argument about the location of some of the rivers. We had forgotten to put one mountain on the Model and that has resulted in some confusion. One mountain was incorrectly named on the source map and this generated a lot of discussion. But local knowledge holders corrected the name. Later on a cartographer confirmed that the source map was incorrect. The women were very strong. They would not accept what the men were suggesting. The men had to reconcile. There was no bystander. The youth and children also participated in the discussions. They were suggesting the names of some of the places and checking these with the elders. It was a fascinating exercise. Local Government officials participated as well. The mayor of the small town said, for example, that if we need to construct a house to place the model, he will give us land. So I found the model to be a social catalyst.

Q6: Did you collect feedback from participants? If yes, which one were the most revealing statements?

Yes! Most of the participants stated that the model revealed them a broader landscape. There were many sad comments also.

One elder stated that “You see I know that the area where I live is degrading. Forests are disappearing. I used to tell myself that ... well, it is only here. The other part of Bale is fine ... But after I saw the model, I could see that Bale in general is degrading. Forests are disappearing. Agriculture is expanding. Grazing areas are disappearing. I really feel very sad and alarmed.

A woman said “Well, as a woman I am not expected to go far. I only know some water points and areas where I collect fire wood. I also know villages of my relatives. Now I can see a larger landscape. Through the discussion I now understand what the Bale Mountains look like. This has broadened my understanding of what we have and what our problems are.”

An elder stated “You know we used to have big forests that we protect through out beliefs. Nobody touches these forests. Now I hear that this practice is rapidly declining. We are loosing our forests because of this. This generation does not understand the value of these things. They ridicule it. I can see that Bale is becoming naked. It is as shameful as undressing a women in public.”

Q7: How would you describe women’s participation compared to the one you observed in Nessuit, Kenya?

Women participated actively.

They did not wait till the men went for lunch, like it happened in Kenya. They were fighting every bit for their voice to be heard. We have asked deliberately for women to be included among participants. They were so proud that they were invited. They also had more specific knowledge about some areas including rituals related to crossing points on a river.

I was amazed by their active participation as Bale is mainly Muslim and women are usually marginalized.

Q8: Who is going to safeguard and update the 3D model which is now hosted at the Dinsho School?

The model was officially handed over to the school. So presently the school will be the guard. But there is a discussion among MELCA and the other government officials that we should construct a house for it and host it in a larger and protected space. MELCA has a soil and water conservation as well as environmental education program in Bale. So we will use the model for this purpose. We are going to organize a three-day planning workshop on how best to use the model. The event will help us on how to best to use the model and how to continuously update it.

Q9: Are there any plans for extracting and digitizing the data visualised on the model? If so, what will be the role of the community in the process and in the management of the resulting data sets?

Yes there will be digitizing the data. There will be discussion with the community which layers they want to show and which to maintain confidential. We will also handover the printed maps to whomever they chose. We will also have a discussion with them on where to store the data. We have explained to them the purpose of the model and they have agree to participate in the process and are so glad that it was done.

Q10: Do you plan to facilitate the replication of the P3DM process elsewhere in Ethiopia?

Yes. We will do two models in Ethiopia probably in June and July 2009. We will see how it goes and will replicate it in other locations as well. What is so exciting is that our partners in the other parts of the Bale Mountains are planning to adopt the P3DM process as well. It is self replicating, it seems.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Participatory 3D Modelling in Bale, Ethiopia

MELCA Mahiber, an Ethiopian NGO member of the African Biodiversity network (ABN), facilitated the construction of a large Participatory 3D Model covering 1,575 sq. km (at a 1:12,500-scale) in Bale and West Arsi, Ethiopia.

The exercise has been done to assist local communities in planning out a more sustainable management of the area, reviving local bio-cultural diversity and supporting local environmental education.

More information on the exercise is found here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

PPgis.Net members on LinkedIn

People on the PGIS/PPGIS LinkedIn group support Participatory mapping, Participatory GIS, Public participation GIS practice, and make use of geo-spatial technologies in a participatory mode to support integrated conservation and development, sustainable natural resource management and customary property rights in developing countries and First Nations. The group is affiliated to PPgis.Net

ICT4D: Information and Communication Technology for Development

Cambridge University Press has recently (2009) published 'ICT4D', edited by Tim Unwin. This provides an authoritative and accessible account of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in contemporary development practice.

It combines theory with practical guidance – including both a conceptual framework for understanding the rapid development of ICT4D, and practitioners’ overviews of the use of ICTs in enterprise, health, governance, education and rural development.

Boxed case studies provide detailed examples of issues and initiatives from a wide variety of countries and organisations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Learning and Knowing in Indigenous Societies Today, UNESCO Report

Learning and Knowing in Indigenous Societies Today, UNESCO Report
Edited by P. Bates, M. Chiba, S. Kube & D. Nakashima, 2009

The loss of their specialised knowledge of nature is a grave concern for many indigenous communities throughout the world. Changes to the social environment, generally brought on by the introduction of new technologies, lifestyles and market economies through colonisation and modernisation, undermine the transmission of ‘indigenous’ or ‘traditional’ knowledge. This process is often accompanied by the transformation of the natural milieu, for example when rainforests are converted to pasturelands, or valleys are flooded to become reservoirs, radically altering the arenas in which indigenous knowledge would be acquired and passed on.
The issue of education, as it is understood in a Western context, occupies a pivotal role in this process, highlighted by many as both a major cause of the decline of indigenous knowledge, and also as a potential remedy to its demise. In the classical Western understanding of the term, education tends to involve learning through instruction and reading, and by internalising abstract information which may later be applied in specific real-world contexts. For many indigenous cultures, however, learning occurs through the process of observing and doing, and by interacting over long periods of time with knowledgeable elders and the natural environment. This learning process is so subtle and unobtrusive that often it is not recognised as learning at all, even by the learners themselves. The knowledge resulting from this latter process is not necessarily abstract information, but is instead intricately bound to experiential process. For many indigenous peoples, knowledge is thus an integral aspect of a person’s being, and by separating it from its context one may render it meaningless.

As might be imagined from these fundamentally contrasting epistemologies, it seems that the two ways of learning – Western and indigenous – may be uncomfortable bedfellows. Time spent by indigenous children in classroom settings is time that they are not spending learning through experience on the land, weakening their knowledge of the local environment and their interactions with the community. In formal schooling, teachers are figures of authority and Western ‘scientific’ knowledge is often presented as the ‘superior’ way to understand the world. This weakens the respect that children have for community elders and their expertise. Furthermore, curricula may contain little of relevance to local realities or may actively denigrate local culture.

Colonial languages are frequently the modes of instruction, further hastening the decline of indigenous and vernacular languages, and widening the rift between elders and youth. Many indigenous communities are therefore in a quandary. While formal education promises to open pathways to the material benefits of the Western world, at the same time it tends to be destructive to indigenous knowledge and worldviews. Furthermore, education curricula, designed for a mainstream and largely urban populace, may be of limited utility for remote rural communities where wage-earning jobs are few and far between. Indeed, acquiring indigenous knowledge of how to navigate and survive on the land, and how to use local resources to feed, clothe and provide for one’s family, may be of much greater relevance for the contexts in which many indigenous groups continue to live today.

Commendable efforts are being made to better align educational curricula with indigenous realities by incorporating local knowledge and language content, but the interrelationship and balance between the knowledge forms remains delicate. These issues, and attempts to address them, are explored within this volume.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Written In the Land, the Life of Queenie McKenzie

This very visual book tells the story of the life of an indigenous ‘law woman’ from the East Kimberley area of Western Australia, Queenie McKenzie. Queenie was recognised as an Australian Living Treasure before she passed away in late 1998 for her cultural leadership and contribution to the arts. What is different with this book is that the story of Queenie’s life is placed within the landscape that she knew as her traditional land. The cover image, is a topographic map of the women’s sacred dreaming site that no longer exists, it is now a diamond mine. Each of the five chapters is spatially located within the landscape of Texas Downs, Queenie and her peoples traditional lands that were ‘settled’ in the late 1880’s by white settlers who claimed the land.
The story is told often in Queenie’s own words and shows the many ways that indigenous people are connected to the land, it discusses issues such as mining of sacred sites, dreaming sites, skin groups - the Australian indigenous governance system, rainbow snake, massacres and parts of the history of growing up as an indigenous child during the impacts of white settlement. As Queenie was an acclaimed artist it also contains many images of her artwork, her maps of her country and sacred sites.When Queenie passed away these traditional ‘law’ practices ceased. Many years before Queenie had revived these annual practices after they were stopped during the settlement time, it was in the 1980’s that she insisted that they begin again. It has been 10 years since her death and the work on the book began between the author and the female elders, to keep Queenie’s legacy strong. Funds from the book are returned to the community for that purpose. It is a tragic reality that Queenie’s generation are the last remaining elders of the area who hold the land based knowledge of sacred sites, these people will all be gone within 2 years yet this is not seen as an urgent need in Australia by the Government, to provide resources and training to indigenous people to map these sacred locations and the associated knowledge.

For more information about the book go to or

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Geotagging Picasa photos in Google Earth

This video describes how to geotag Picasa photos in Google Earth.

Funding opportunities for NGOs, CBOs and researchers

IAPAD has recently updated his list of selected funding opportunities for NGOs, CBOs and researchers. The list includes awards, competitions, funding opportunitiers (mostly grants) offered by a number of development agencies, foundations and other development actors. Worth having a look at as it includes also opportunities related to PGIS / PPGIS practice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 PGIS / PPGIS Photo Competition launched by CTA

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) has launched a Photo Competition. Participants can win prices up to a maximum of EUR 900! CTA and partners are creating a multimedia multilingual training kit to support the spread of good participatory mapping practice. The training kit will promote examples of participatory mapping from around the Globe. A collection of images will be included in the photo library of the kit.

The competition has been launched to enrich the library with a wide variety of examples and applications from around the world. The competition allows development practitioners and researchers to share photographic records of their experiences with other peers and contribute to a product (the training kit) which will be freely available in different languages in 2010. More about the competition, its legal conditions, guidelines for submission and procedures of selection and awarding is found on the recently launched CTA web site dedicated to Participatory GIS (PGIS) practice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops

Chief Almir Surui asked Google for help with preserving his Amazon tribe's culture and protect his indigenous territory from deforestation. In June 2008, a team of Googlers led by Rebecca Moore of the Google Earth Outreach team went to the Amazon to train over 20 indigenous tribes on using the internet to preserve their land and their way of life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trends and Technologies in Where 2.0

Geospatial expert Andrew Turner discusses the current evolution of Where 2.0 and how it is affecting the entire landscape of Web 2.0 and next generation applications. This webcast was recorded live on Oct. 24, 2008.

Andrew also published a book: "Introduction to Neogeography" published by O'Reilly.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Photo Geotagging & GPS Photo Trackers

Geotagging photographs has become an increasingly important aspect of PGIS / PPGIS practice. While the Internet already offers a wide range of online applications (Google Earth, Panoramio, Flikr, etc) where to geo-locate images, offline solutions (hardware & software) are still to be made available or even known to the many of us. I have compiled some data based on an online research dividing the available devices in three groups: Group one includes GPS-enabled cameras. Group 2 includes devices which have to be directly connected to the camera. The third group includes devices which operates separately from the camera and harvest data which have to be matched with the images taken through a three-steps process.
All result in adding latitude, longitude, altitude and time data to photographs taken with digital cameras.
More information on the research is found here.