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Dave De Vera elaborates on Participatory GIS practice in the Philippines

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I'm Dave De Vera. I work for the Philippine Association for Inter Cultural Development, ... ... an NGO in the Philippines which works with indigenous peoples ... ... and helps them file claims and map their traditional territories. You've been in the field of participatory GIS in the Philippines for the past 12 years ... ... to support indigenous people claim land. Looking at the technology and methods used, ... ... which one would you consider as the most appropriate ... ... for ensuring local ownership in the process? In the past 12 years, we've practically used all the available methodologies ... ... in participatory GIS, but, for me, the most effective methodology ... ... is Participatory 3D modelling, ... ... basically, because the people are in control. They start by building the whole model. They control the data that's put in the model and they define ... ... the results of the whole process. So, for me, participatory 3D modelling is the most effective tool ... ... that can be used to help people who file claims for their traditional territories. Could you briefly elaborate on one of the success stories of the use of ... ... 3D modelling in the Philippines over the 12 years you've been involved? Ok. There have been so many ... One particular example that we've done is a claim of the aboriginal peoples ... ... in Central Philippines in the place called Pastolan in Bataan in Central Luzon. It is where the former U.S. Naval Base is located and ... ... where a huge part of the area is still close canopy forest. The aboriginal people have been neglected for a long time, ... ... they filed a claim which everybody thought would not be possible. But with their insistence, we facilitated the construction of a three dimensional model ... ... wherein the people identified all the boundaries of their traditional lands. It included a lot of information about their hunting activities, ... ... about where the old burial grounds were ... ... and all of the necessary information that was to be used to file a claim. Today, this is the first claim ever in an industrialized zone that has been approved. Nearly one third of the whole former U.S. Naval Base ... ... has been officially titled to the aboriginal people of Central Luzon. So, what did it cost the community, because it's very challenging ... ... there are risks involved, resistance. Most of the times, the government or the political will may not be there ... ... for the whole process to unfold as desired. The resistance always comes from government and a lot of vested interests. The whole process is fully supported by almost all of the communities that we work with. First of all, it is a very relevant process. They know that it is a process that ultimately will empower them and liberate them. It is a process that they understand and control. So, what makes it difficult are, for example, ... ... a lot of state restrictions that deny access to a lot of these communities ... ... that actually even question the results of such PGIS activities. Mainly, this is the resistance that people face. Because apparently a lot of vested interests do not want the truth to be known, ... ... do not want people to be empowered, ... ... do not want people to ask questions. So, there is resistance from such groups, ... ... but for communities, there is just so much overwhelming support. How did you overcome some of the obstacles ... ... especially in relation to the resistance before they succeeded? Well, number one, you have to show that you're competent. In spite of the fact that there is resistance, that 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, ... ... in fact, right now, even if governments sometimes don'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. Given some of the obstacles that you face, particularly relating to the resistance ... ... by the government, can you give us some ways or methods that you use ... ... to be able to accomplish such results? Partnering with the government is a very, very strategic act that one can do, ... because if what you are doing is something that responds to a community's need, ... ... the government will partner with you. But first of all you have to show your competence. We have partnered with government so that our work becomes legitimate ... ... and becomes recognized. We've been partnering with a lot of local governments and helping them ... ... come out with participatory maps that will define local land uses. We've also partnered with government to help them facilitate conflict resolution ... ... in a lot of areas where there's conflict. We've also partnered with government so that they can implement the law ... ... that helps people file claims and helps people do delineations of ancestral land. Basically all of this has been happening, ... because we've shown enough competence that government has enough respect ... ... for our work and this is the main result. Finally, let me just ask you, how do you build that competence? Did you have training sessions? When we decided to go into community mapping, ... ... we didn't do it as an ad hoc type of work. We consciously and seriously decided ... ... to allocate resources to that activity. We identified people whose main responsibilities were mapping. That is a very important lesson that we learned, ... because if you do mapping, if you go into mapping ... ... as an ad-hoc type of work, you just make the activity as an adds-on ... ... to the stuff that you're going to assign. Number two, we allocated resources ... ... no matter how meagre our resources were, ... ... we fully understood that when we went into mapping, ... ... it would need allocation of resources, meaning resources both for human resources: ... We trained people, we diligently looked for resources to get equipment ... ... and, lastly, we practiced it. We did not do mapping on the table! We did not do mapping by the textbook! All of the methodologies that we have developed ... ... and we have tried have been hard-tested and field-tested again and again ... ... and validated by communities. That is how we build competence.

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 23 seconds
Country: Netherlands
Language: English
Producer: CTA
Director: Giacomo Rambaldi
Views: 175
Posted by: giacomo on Nov 11, 2009

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.

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