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Mapping for Change 2005: Report Back

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Mapping for Change International Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, September 2005 Throughout the world, natural resources are under increasing pressure. These resources are getting scarcer by the day. People are now beginning to realize that the sustainable management of these resources ... ... is directly linked to active participation of concerned stakeholders. These include those depending on the natural resource base for their livelihoods, ... ... subsistence, and cultural identities. Issues related to resource use, control, access, and customary values ... ... are related to the territory and have all spatial dimensions. In these contexts, the use of modern spatial information technologies ... ... can play an important role in visualizing, georeferencing, ... ... and adding authority to local knowledge. In developing countries, the use of these technologies is often externally driven ... ...and geared toward data management instead of community empowerment. Over the years, participatory mapping has rapidly grown ... ... and spread both in scope and use. From the humble beginnings of sketch mapping in the 80's ... ... to today's sophisticated use of spatial information technologies ... ... by community members or technology intermediaries operating on their behalf. In September 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya ... ... a number of institutions organized an international gathering of practitioners ... ... and researchers to address issues related to the use of spatial information technologies ... ... and systems at grassroots level. For three days, the Kenya College of Communications and Technology ... ... played host to a special event dealing with the practice, ... ... becoming better known as Participatory GIS. As many as 156 practitioners, activists, indigenous peoples, ... ... and researchers from 45 countries attended the event. Practitioners and innovators scattered throughout the world, ... ... and often working in isolation, came together to share experiences, new ideas and visions. The conference was organized by a number of development agencies ... ... led by the International Institute for Geo Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) ... ... and the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA). CTA's mandate is to produce information in the fields of agriculture, ... ... rural development, food security, and management of natural resources ... ... for the demand in 79 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. In this regard, this conference covering PGIS but also 3D modelling ... ... seems to be ideal to both producing information, ensuring that local communities ... ... can transport their messages to political leaders for their decision making ... ... and also to decide on what kind of channels may be used. Now here, 3D mapping and PGIS seem to be ideal communication channels ... ... which is the second, so to say, mandate of CTA ... ... deciding about what are the most appropriate tools for communication. Since the early 80's, Participatory GIS has readily advanced ... ... and is currently used in various community development initiatives and projects worldwide. Available information shows that Participatory GIS has a great potential ... ... to empower individuals and communities to contribute to the development ... ... of place-based methodologies, promote more inclusive ... ... community spatial decision-making, and incorporate multiple realities of landscape. There used to be some schools that people would say "I'm a PRA practitioner", ... ... or I would say "I'm doing appreciative inquiry", or "planning for real", or "participatory technology development", ... ... or "participatory theater", or "participatory video". What's happened is that there's been an explosion ... ... and an enormous amount of sharing that has gone on. We are in a situation now in which we don't really have schools in participation. We have a few whole range of approaches and methods ... ... which people can draw on which mix and match for particular circumstances. The one which has spread more than any other, ... ...which has been adopted in almost every context ... ... is mapping. Participatory mapping has just gone all over the place. Enabling and disabling environments for PGIS. Lack of trust, initially, on the outsiders is disabling. Based on a number of case studies presented, follow up discussions and interactive exercises, ... ... the participants examined enabling and disabling environments ... ... for PGIS practice in their respective countries. Basically this relates to the poor acceptability by government of PGIS. We have already cases where government doesn't allow any kind of mapping. It emerged that enabling cultural, legal, technical and political environments ... ... are prerequisites for PGIS practice to be successfully implemented. Empowerment and trust Partnerships between local communities and technology intermediaries, ... ... mainly NGOs, appeared to be the most ideal combination. When local people learn a modern technology, ... ... which commands respect, they may be empowered ... Moreover, because maps are so powerful, ... ... trust between technology intermediaries and local people becomes critical. It was astonishing how often the word "trust" was mentioned at the conference. In the Philippines, we consistently and regularly enhance our skills ... to gain the respect of government counterparts. They have to respect you so that they will work with you. Number one, you have to show that you are competent, ... ... in spite of the fact that there is resistance, there is criticism, ... ... a good product always sells itself. If your product can answer and respond to all of these criticisms, ... ... they will have no choice but to eventually change their minds and accept it. Number two, what we do is something that is necessary. It is endorsed by the people, supported by the people, ... ... such as in fact right now, even if government sometimes doesn't want what we do, ... ... they ask us to partner with them to implement several government programs ... ... and policies that respond to the needs of indigenous peoples. We have been partnering with a lot of local governments and helping ... ... them come up with participatory maps that will define local land uses. We have also partnered with government to help them facilitate conflict resolution ... ... in a lot of areas where there is conflict. We have also partnered with governments so that they can implement the laws ... ... that help people file claims and help people do delineation of ancestral lands. Effectiveness of PGIS in conflict resolution Then there is the challenge of conflict management, ... ... which is always at the centre of natural resource access, control and management. GIS brings in these issues automation, and once you are able to digitize a map ... ... or capture a map into the GIS, you can display it consistently. So if there is a boundary, the people will have confidence in that boundary ... ... that you have drawn, because ... ... unless you change it, it will always be consistent. The boundary will be consistent. As a result, it really exudes confidence in the people who are dealing with it. I know in the Kosovo conflict, ... ... a GIS application was used in the mediation effort that resolved the conflict. Identity Building among Indigenous Peoples and rural communities One important theme of the conference has been supporting ... ... identity building among indigenous peoples and rural communities. Reiko Yoshida took the participants through a presentation on the current convention ... ... on intangible cultural heritage where she explained that UNESCO... ... wants to involve community members as genuine partners ... in safeguarding their ever-evolving heritage. This intangible cultural heritage transmitted from generation to generation ... ... is constantly re-created by communities and groups in response to their environment, ... ... their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, ... ... thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. The participatory mapping is actually people themselves doing the mapping ... ... telling their culture, their heritage and so forth. It has actually helped people to understand the San ... ... - who are known as 'bushmen' - as people who knows their language, ... ... their culture, rich history and their heritage. Networking and communication: key ingredients At the conference, there was a general consensus that networking and communication ... ... are key ingredients of good and effective PGIS practice, ... ... and that people's maps without adequate advocacy do not lead to destination. Rachel Olson, a Canadian First Nation's representative, ... ... argued that networking is essential for sharing skills, ... ... resources and experiences and for adding value ... ... and authority to local spatial knowledge. Networking becomes a crucial component ... ... of a mapping project's longevity and success. However, creating successful and sustainable networking ... ... environments has been a continuing challenge ... ... for those seeking to develop and maintain a community of aboriginal mappers. On the third and final day of the conference, the participants split into working groups ... ... to outline regional ways forward. Across the regions, there was a general consensus ... ... that for PGIS to become a widespread practice, ... ... there was the need to involve more stakeholders at all levels ... ... and to share experiences of both successes and failures ... ... in order to continue learning about this growing body of practice. The way forward To work towards 'good practice', you need to build a 'community of practice', ... which is much more than a network, ... ... because a community of practice is not only on information sharing, ... ... but it's also on developing a practice of working together to develop ... ... a good practice on 'Participatory GIS' ... ... or 'community mapping' or whatever you want to talk about. Conclusion The three day conference, Mapping for Change, ... ... consolidated an emerging worldwide community of practice bonded by skills, ... ... values, and aspirations. Participants agreed on the need for promoting good practice ... ... and the respect of an appropriate code of ethics in the conduct of their work. If what we do after we leave this conference in our own work ... ... and in spreading these practices is half as good as the conference organisation has been, ... ... the world will be a very much better place. Thank you.

Video Details

Duration: 13 minutes and 41 seconds
Country: Netherlands
Language: English
Producer: CTA
Director: Giacomo Rambaldi
Views: 199
Posted by: giacomo on Nov 17, 2009

A 13-minute reportage on the Mapping for Change Conference which took place in Nairobi, Kenya on September 7-10, 2005. The reportage features interviews with Participatory GIS (PGIS) practitioners from around the globe and summarizes the process and outcomes of the event.

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