An excellent new report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) looks at GIS and participatory mapping techniques that in places like Ghana have been used for conflict resolution as well.
Participatory mapping is multidisciplinary. What makes it significantly different from traditional cartography and map-making is the process by which the maps are created and the uses to which they are subsequently put. Participatory mapping focuses on providing the skills and expertise for community members to create the maps themselves, to represent the spatial knowledge of community members and to ensure that community members determine the ownership of the maps and how and to whom to communicate the information that the maps provide. The participatory mapping process can influence the internal dynamics of a community. This process can contribute to building community cohesion, help stimulate community members to engage in land-related decision-making, raise awareness about pressing land-related issues and ultimately contribute to empowering local communities and their members.
Download the full report from here. This really is one of the best reports I have read in a while, and the Annexes at the end provide a wealth of comparative information on different participatory mapping techniques and technologies.
There is on page 12 an example of how participatory mapping helped with conflict resolution in Ghana. It comes to mind however how techniques enumerated in this excellent review can complement CR / CM / CT initiatives in Sri Lanka, where close to 300,000 IDPs need to be resettled along with tens of thousands more in the Jaffna Peninsula and in the East in particular from the 3 decades of conflict.
This participatory mapping approach can actually extend beyond the geographical to mental landscapes as well, where workshops can use these techniques to draw mind-maps that explain the causes of and relationships between actors involved in and factors supporting violent conflict, so as to figure our ways to address such violence.
So while participatory mapping has been used to some degree in Sri Lanka in rural development, it’s interesting to see whether post-war territorial conflict can be mitigated to some degree amongst IDPs and refugees by the use of these techniques.