NEWS 2005


New Land Mapping System to Give People Greater Say

(Does it? -see  Ethics and GPS/GIS/PGIS/ICT below)

Wandera Ojanji

Kenya will soon have an electronic land adjudication system if the Government adopts recommendations by an international conference.

Experts say this would expedite the process of land transfer and management, and eradicate controversy, corruption and political interference which have dogged the process for many years.

Dr Eric Nyadimo of the Institute of Geodesy and Land Management, Technische University Munchen, Germany, told the conference that Kenya should use maps and geographic information technologies in land adjudication. He said the present system of land adjudication had major weaknesses and was not economically sustainable: "It ignores land owners. The exercise is prone to controversy, corruption and confusion and political interference."

He challenged the Government to adopt Participatory Geographical Information System (PGIS).

Nyadimo cited Germany which used PGIS to streamline land adjudication.

"In Germany, land consolidation is under the Federal Land Consolidation Act. Land consolidation is a responsibility of landowners who form the body of participants that elects a board to oversee land adjudication matters," he said.

The conference, whose theme was Mapping for Change, was organised by the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CTA).

The CTA director, Hansjorg Neum, stressed the importance of spatial knowledge generated through mapping. He said such knowledge would help local communities in tackling issues related to land tenure, human rights, resource entitlement and health.

Neum said community mapping would enable marginalised groups assert their right to ancestral lands.

Nyadimo said PGIS would help people plan, design, engineer, build and maintain their environment.

The system, introduced in the late 1980s to enhance participatory planning and management, is successfully being applied in mobilising under-utilised local, physical, human, institutional and knowledge resources. Development agents are also applying it to strengthen their understanding of local diversity in natural and social resources.

Mr Julius Muchemi, executive director, Environmental Research, Mapping and Information Systems in Africa, said PGIS had great potential to empower individuals and communities for social change: "PGIS is a process of empowering communities to plan and manage their livelihoods. The community can then use the maps to plan on how to use their resources."

Through PGIS, communities in Keiyo and Marakwet have put in place a sustainable natural resource use management plan.

"Communities in the higher lands had running conflicts with those in low lands over sharing of certain resources like water and grazing fields. Using PGIS tools, the communities identified and mapped vulnerable groups, vulnerable environmental spots, available natural resources and opportunities for sharing resources. They then developed a plan on how to protect those vulnerable among them, how to sustainably and equitably manage, utilise and conserve their natural resources," Muchemi said.

Muchemi extolled the potentials of PGIS in supporting the plight of Ogiek, an ethnic minority living in the Mau Forest. Tinet Forest, which is part Mau, is the ancestral home of the Ogiek community.

The Ogiek apply PGIS in combination with information and communication technology (ICT) as advocacy tools to fight for their rights and interests.

"The Ogiek can use PGIS and ICT in assessing and addressing environmental issues, one of the major factors behind the Government's move to kick them out of the forest. They can bring out their traditional systems of natural resource management, utilisation and conservation and hence prove that their existence in the forest does not have any negative effects on the Mau ecosystem.



Some notes from a "good practice measures" approach to doing pgis which I think are nearly all connected with issues of ethical design and behaviour (practice) :
Mike McCall <>  22/09/2005 16:55

A 'Good Practice' Sequence Implementing P-Mapping and PGIS

I.    Pre-conditions.

II.   the Works - 30 plus steps in the Process and Procedures.

III.   Reiteration.

I. Pre-conditions:

*    "Purpose, - which purpose?, whose purpose?" - analytical and operational clarity about the purpose of the P-GIS exercise is the key element.  Be very certain about the purpose - why? and which?  Get people involved in this exercise.  There are many purpose & justifications for P-Mapping.
Purpose can be translated into the competing intentions of participation - facilitation, collaboration, and empowerment.

*    Local people and their communities are the principals or partners, not the clients.  Thus the P-GIS initiatives emanate from them, not from the outside. Therefore, participation is also essential in this process of determining the purpose.

*    Ownership of the products as well as the information/ knowledge inputs is a vital issue.

  • Who determines the purpose of the map?

  • Who decides on the priorities between interests and issues?

  • Who selects the information to be included?

  • Who decides on the sources of information, including the choice of "key informants"?

  • Who decides on the legend?  i.e. what items will be located on the map.

  • What are the spatial extent & limits of the P-mapping exercise, the boundaries.  (This always depends on the purpose.)

*    Nevertheless, a pre-condition is that the legislative and legal and political climate must be amenable and supportive to participation values and a P-GIS strategy.  The condition may not (is unlikely to) be fully met, so some of the PSP activities or projects, at another level, will need to be directed towards strengthening higher political forces towards this.

*    P-GIS is directed towards the marginalized, the unrepresented, the inarticulate, the resource-poor, the power-deficient.  It must show positive discrimination towards people identified by gender, age, wealth, resource levels, caste, religion, class.

*    Envision from the start, what are the GI outputs / products going to be - are they of any use to anyone - if so, for whom?  This is again an ´ownership´ issue.
This would imply that the products should be simple, clear, understandable, testable, and convincing, as well as relevant, reliable, logical, replicable, and coherent.

*    Consider collaboratively what might be the negative impacts of the outputs - PSP and P-mapping can lead to more conflicts, and more concentration of power or resources in a few hands.

*    Consider beforehand what are the likely needs for confidentiality of spatial information - ranging from the locations of rare species or of valuable medicinal plants, to secret, sacred sites.

*    Despite the necessity for a long-range vision, nevertheless, the approach should remain flexible, adaptive, and recursive in the actual approach, without sticking rigidly to pre-determined tools and techniques, or blindly to the initial objectives (participation is learning).

*    Participation is always a learning process - and best if it is learning in two directions:

  • Experts learn the interests, objectives, limitations, constraints, and variability from the insiders.

  • Insiders (community traditional leaders, elected leaders, NGO, CBO, civil society, etc) learn from the expert (planner, GIS, mapper, geographer, doorkeeper to outside knowledge, contact with outside power). Insiders learn technical knowledge, and new technical, economic and social skills, but also a wider vision.

*    Participation is always slow - by procedural design, even if not by definition. This is equally true of PRA, P-mapping, and P-GIS. Nevertheless, the output results should be as timely as possible.

*    Adherence to fundamental PRA and Participatory-RRA principles and methodology, especially in terms of their information needs assessment; and not just blindly use the tools of RRA to exploit local knowledge.

*    Follow international survey guidelines such as the AAA [ ] Code of Ethics, which reminds anthropologists that they are responsible not only for factual content of information, but also the socio-cultural and political implications

II. Process and Procedures - the Works:

30 or so steps, ..........

III. Reiteration - Back to the beginning

*    Participation in all the above activities carried out, not only with short-term, functional participation, but with sustainable, local capacity-building to carry the activities  through, as the empowerment objective.  There should be learning and skills development during the capacity-building process.  This includes a variety of skills:

  • technical surveying, mapping, computer and GIS skills;

  • extending local knowledge, e.g. from older key informants to young people, from women to men

  • extending external understanding- about the knowledge and capacities of local communities.

  • organisational skills - presentations, negotiation, lobbying, legal entitlements.

*    Participation must be through the whole sequence and the whole system - including during the implementation and the changes thereafter.

*    The Maps are never final, static, they are not 'cast in stone' - they should be triangulated, improved,  verified.
Later they should be updated.  How to ensure this?

*    In all the steps, above, there should be not just short-term, functional, participation with local people (e.g. therefore, not just the using of school children or villagers to carry out the mapping). There should be a deep participation directed  towards the empowerment objective throughout the process, leading towards sustainable, local capacity-building to carry the community and other parties through PSP.

*    Clear Ownership:

Multiple, full-quality copies of the maps should remain in the community probably with several organisations / groups.  Copies should also go to local governments, local NGOs, etc.
Include the names of the contributors to the maps.

*    Re-consider and re-assess the purpose of the exercise -: to what extent was it local initiative?, or was it external intervention?  What will have changed in the community? Who will have benefited? and, Who will have borne the costs? - in the long, as well as the short term.

The Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies is managed by  and hosted by PGIS, PPGIS and community mapping bibliography is found at