Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maximizing Mobile, a World Bank Report

Executive summary

This report analyzes the growth and evolution of applications for mobile phones, focusing on their use in agriculture, health and financial services, as well as their impact on employment and government. It also explores the consequences for development of the emerging “app economy”, summarizing current thinking and seeking to inform the debate on the use of mobile phones for development. It’s no longer about the phone itself, but about how it is used, and the content and applications that mobile phones open. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 1: Overview

The report’s opening chapter provides an overview of the broad trends shaping and redefining our understanding of the word “mobile.” Developing countries are increasingly well placed to exploit the benefits of mobile communications, with levels of access rising around the world. The chapter explores how the bond between mobile operators and users is loosening, as computer and internet companies invade the mobile space. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 2: Mobilizing the Agricultural Value Chain

Increasingly, specialized mobile services are providing localized information about price, weather and climate, pest control, cultivation practices, and agricultural extension services. Chapter 2 examines the emerging uses of mobile services in agriculture, as well as remote and satellite technologies that are assisting in food traceability, sensory detection, and status updates from the field. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 3: MHealth

Chapter 3 examines some of the key principles and characteristics of mobile Health (mHealth), and how mobiles are helping transform and enhance the delivery of primary and secondary healthcare services. It reviews on-the-ground implementations of medical healthcare apps to draw key conclusions as to how mHealth can best be implemented to serve the needs of people, as well as identifying the major barriers to be overcome. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 4: Mobile Money for Financial Inclusion

Chapter 4 looks at the use of mobile money as a general platform and critical infrastructure underpinning other economic sectors. It shows the benefits and potential impact of mobile money, especially for promoting financial inclusion. It provides an overview of the key factors driving the growth of mobile money services, the barriers and obstacles hindering their deployment, and emerging issues that the industry will face over the coming years. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 5: Mobile Entrepreneurship And Employment

This chapter explores the enormous potential of mobiles for employment, not solely in terms of job creation, but also their ability to facilitate entrepreneurship – especially in populations otherwise disconnected from the economy, encourage development of transferable technical and business skills, match jobs with workers and create opportunities for microwork. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 6: Making Government Mobile

Governments are beginning to embrace the potential for mobile technology to put public services literally into the pocket of each citizen, create interactive services, and promote accountable and transparent governance. Chapter 6 identifies a range of uses for mobile technology in government that supplement public services, expand their user base, and generate spinoff services. Read More (PDF) »

Chapter 7: Policies for Mobile Broadband

The final chapter distinguishes between supply-side policies (which seek to promote the expansion of wireless broadband networks) and demand-side policies (which seek to boost take-up of wireless broadband services) in the mobile broadband ecosystem. The chapter provides policy recommendations for expanding mobile broadband infrastructure that would address the key bottlenecks of both supply and demand sides of mobile broadband. Read More (PDF) »

Part II: Key Trends in The Development Of The Mobile Sector

Part II of the report brings together a range of mobile indicators for over 150 economies. It also reviews the main trends shaping the sector, while a new analytical tool is also introduced for tracking the progress of economies at different levels of economic development in widening access, improving supply and stimulating demand for mobile services. Read More (PDF) »

Full Report

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ICTs: Reducing the Effects of Climate Change on Mozambique's Urban Poor

In Africa, local governments in coastal cities are turning to Information and Communication Technology (ICT), like SMS texting and GIS mapping, to help lessen and, when possible, prevent the severe effects of climate change-induced disasters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Digital Habitats - a book worth reading

Technology has changed what it means for communities to “be together.” Digital tools are now part of most communities’ habitats. This book develops a new literacy and language to describe the practice of stewarding technology for communities. Whether you want to ground your technology stewardship in theory and deepen your practice, whether you are a community leader or sponsor who wants to understand how communities and technology intersect, or whether you just want practical advice, this is the book for you.

Written by Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John D. Smith, the book brings together conceptual thinking, case studies and offers a guide for understanding how technology can help a community do what it wants to do. It gives a glimpse into the future as community and technology continue to affect and influence each other.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The power of information: Map Kibera uses GIS, SMS, video and the web to gather community data

The Map Kibera project works with young people from one of Africa’s biggest slums. They use GIS, SMS, video and the web to gather data and make it available to the community, where it can be applied to influence policies related to the area.

Located just five kilometres from the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, the residents of Kibera have grown accustomed to the many foreign experts visiting their community to conduct surveys and ask questions for yet another data collection initiative. As one of the largest slum areas in Africa, it draws staff from development organisations, research institutes and NGOs from all over the world.

As all these organisations and researchers generate more and more documents and project reports about Kibera, very little of the information gathered is ever made available to the 250,000 people who live there. Access to the data would give the people of Kibera the chance to present their own view of the living conditions in the community. They would be able to influence public policy to achieve improvements to the facilities that they believe are important.

In 2009, Erica Hagen, a specialist in the use of new media for development, and Mikel Maron, a digital mapping expert, started Map Kibera to help residents use mapping technology to gather information about their community. For the initial phase of the project, they recruited 13 local young people, aged between 19 to 34, including five women and eight men, from each village in Kibera.

The participants received two days training on how to use handheld GPS receivers to gather location data, and an introduction to using the specialised software in a computer lab. The team was supported by five GIS professionals from Nairobi who had volunteered their time. The participants then spent three weeks walking along the roads, pathways and rail tracks with their GPS receivers recoding the location data. They collected more specific information on water and sewage locations, education, religious and business locations, as well as anything else the participants deemed useful.


Rather than create a stand-alone map, the location data gathered by the project was added to the open source project OpenStreetMap, which is a crowdsourced map made by volunteers around the world. Map Kibera contributed to filling their part of OpenStreetMap, which would also make the information available to more people, and help to raise the profile of the project.

The team also wanted to add a multimedia aspect to the maps, by including video footage of points of interest from around Kibera, and uploading them to YouTube. Three members of Carolina for Kibera (CFK), affiliated with the University of North Carolina, assisted with the filming and helped to document the map making process using small camcorders.

The young people involved in the project developed a sense of achievement as they learned the new skills, and gained confidence in using new technologies. They also began to see the value of the information they were collecting and to understand the impact it could have on their community. However, it was not so easy to convince other residents.

There was a lot of cynicism in the local community caused by the NGOs who had previously come to Kibera but never shared their information. People were, therefore, reluctant to be filmed and photographed. Although the GPS data gathering was less intrusive, the technology presented other difficulties.

The lack of reliable power and inadequate internet access in Kibera were major challenges, especially when it came to uploading large video files to the web, which can take a long time. The slow internet connection also made it difficult to update security software on the computers, leaving them vulnerable to damaging viruses.

These were challenges that could be overcome in time, but for the project to be a real success, it would have to show that it could provide useful information to the community. The mapping project was, therefore, expanded to incorporate public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) to gather information on specific issues affecting the residents of Kibera.

The group focused on collecting detailed data on four sectors: health, security, education, and water and sanitation. In February 2010, Map Kibera developed a partnership with UNICEF and added a fifth topic: mapping girls’ security. The aim here was to get the girls’ views on possible threats to their security, along with location information, for use in compiling data on their vulnerability to HIV/Aids.

Nine mappers collected data on the five topics using paper forms, gathering, for example, details of the costs and services offered at clinics and chemists in the area. To further encourage community involvement and get feedback on the information gathered, the team produced printed versions of maps for each area and placed transparencies on top so that residents could make changes and additions as necessary. Map Kibera also involved other interested organisations working in the health and security sectors in the area, including African Medical and Research Foundation and a women's group called Kibera Power Women.

Positive picture

As well as making the maps and multimedia available online, Map Kibera looked for other ways for the community to use the information gathered. For instance, the video material filmed as part of the mapping exercises could also be used to present news stories of the area. This idea expanded and the team worked with two youth from Kibera, who already had film-making experience.

They trained 18 young people to use small ‘ultra-portable’ Flip video cameras and the software to help them share their efforts on the web. This led to Kibera News Network (KNN), a citizen journalism initiative to present features and news stories affecting Kibera, showing positive aspects of the area and providing accurate coverage of negative events.

Mainstream media often focused on the misery and negativity in Kibera. The only events certain to attract mainstream media attention were clashes with the police or when the trains that run along the area’s peripheries were disrupted. Map Kibera attempts to change the perception of Kibera by allowing people to create and share their own stories.

The KNN teams edit the videos themselves and post them on YouTube – giving them a direct and immediate link to a global audience. The videos are also available on the Voice of Kibera, a community news website that also hosts the digital map. Residents can even post their own geo-located stories to the map using SMS.

Map Kibera used the open source tool, Ushahidi, to make the contributions via SMS possible. Ushahidi was initially developed after the 2008 Kenyan elections, to track reports of violence. It is a tool for crowdsourcing information using, e-mail, Twitter and the web as well as SMS. When someone in Kibera contributes an article, an SMS gateway filters the incoming texts according to keywords. Messages with the keyword ‘Kibera’ are fed into the Voice of Kibera website, where they are mapped using GPS coordinates, and approved by the editor before finally appearing on the site.

In 2010, the team founded the GroundTruth Initiative to support Map Kibera and other future projects. In the same year, UN Habitat awarded Map Kibera with a youth fund grant to expand its work to other parts of Nairobi, leading to co-operation with the community in another slum, Mukuru. A group in Mathare Valley, the second-largest slum in Nairobi, was also interested in creating a similar project, and, through funding from Plan International, a team is now collaborating on a participatory development programme there.

The Map Kibera Trust, which has a core membership of 30 young people, is working with similar communities in other parts of Kenya, and in Tanzania. A core aim of the Trust is to not only make people aware of openly available technology and information, but also to train local people to use them to benefit the community. The information now available to the residents of Kibera has caused a shift in power, providing them with reliable data to present their own case, and enabling to directly influence the policies that affect their lives.

By Erica Hagen and Mikel Maron
Article re-published with permission from ICT Update

Erica Hagen is a freelance writer, photographer, videographer and specialist on new media for development.
Mikel Maron is co-director of GroundTruth Initiative, and board member of OpenStreetMap Foundation

Related links

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Climate Change and African Political Stability dynamic mapping tool released

The Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) program and AidData recently released a dynamic mapping tool that allows for analysis of climate change and conflict across Africa, plus development assistance in Malawi. The mapping tool uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to enable users to select and layer combinations of CCAPS data onto one map. It also shows how conflict dynamics are changing over time and space. This tool provides an interactive medium for researchers to explore how climate change vulnerability and conflict interact, and in Malawi, to see how aid is distributed across different areas.

CCAPS climate security vulnerability data provides information on four sources of vulnerability: physical exposure to climate-related hazards, population density, household and community resilience, and governance and political violence. Chronic climate security vulnerability is located where these four sources of vulnerability conjoin.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Accelerating Development Using the Web: Empowering Poor and Marginalized Populations

The World Wide Web Foundation has published Accelerating Development Using the Web: Empowering Poor and Marginalized Populations. Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the book is a compendium of articles by recognized experts describing the real and potential effects of the World Wide Web in all major aspects of economic and social development.

The book fills a gap in the current store of knowledge by taking a broad view, offering detailed commentary from fourteen experts who are deeply engaged in the field of ICTs for development, many with extensive experience in developing countries, and each able to emphasize the key questions, challenges, and successes unique to their field.

The research unites themes of technological innovation, international development, economic growth, gender equality, linguistic and cultural diversity and community action, with special attention paid to the circumstances surrounding the poor and vulnerable members of the Global Information Society.

Readers will be able to draw parallels across each field and see where similarities in the deployment of ICTs for development exist and where there are divergences.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

World Bank: eRwanda project

This 10 min video described the eRwanda project, and its accomplishments from 2006 until 2010. eRwanda was funded by the World Bank in support of the national information communication infrastructure strategy (NICI). eRwanda aims to improve access to information and services to Rwandans. It financed infrastructure and services, as well as connectivity to the district offices, in support of government decentralization. eRwanda contributed to private sector development, skills development and the creation of an innovation culture key to the success of Rwanda's vision 2020. Some of the innovations it financed were Telemedecine, Government information portals, ICT buses, eSoko mobile based agriculture market place which won a UNECA award for excellent in public service delivery.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Aerial Photography and Image Interpretation - third edition published

Extensively revised to address today's technological advances, Aerial Photography and Image Interpretation, Third Edition offers a thorough survey of the technology, techniques, processes, and methods used to create and interpret aerial photographs.

The new edition also covers other forms of remote sensing with topics that include the most current information on orthophotography (including digital), soft copy photogrammetry, digital image capture and interpretation, GPS, GIS, small format aerial photography, statistical analysis and thematic mapping errors, and more.

A basic introduction is also given to nonphotographic and space-based imaging platforms and sensors, including Landsat, lidar, thermal, and multispectral.

This new Third Edition features:
  • Additional coverage of the specialized camera equipment used in aerial photography 
  • A strong focus on aerial photography and image interpretation, allowing for a much more thorough presentation of the techniques, processes, and methods than is possible in the broader remote sensing texts currently available Straightforward, user-friendly writing style 
  •  Expanded coverage of digital photography 
  •  Test questions and summaries for quick review at the end of each chapter 
Written in a straightforward style supplemented with hundreds of photographs and illustrations, Aerial Photography and Image Interpretation, Third Edition is the most in-depth resource for undergraduate students and professionals in such fields as forestry, geography, environmental science, archaeology, resource management, surveying, civil and environmental engineering, natural resources, and agriculture.

Also available in Kindle edition


The late David P. Paine was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management at Oregon State University.

James D. Kiser is an Assistant Professor and Head Undergraduate Advisor in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.??He is also a Certified Photogrammetrist.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Upcoming Google Mapping Technology Workshop

Last year, Google Earth Outreach partnered with the Institute at the Golden Gate to convene 80 environmental leaders spanning 40 organizations and train them how to use mapping technology to create powerful visual messages.

You can read more about that workshop in this blog post. The response to last year’s workshop was so overwhelming that the Institute at the Golden Gate has decided to host a second annual workshop.

This year, the Institute will bring back trained alumni and several Google mapping trainers from the Google Earth Outreach team to train a new cohort of environmental leaders.

The organisers encourage interested parties to apply for this free, for the two-day interactive training workshop.

What: Mapping Environmental Scenarios & Solutions with Google Technology
When: March 19 and 20, 2012, 8:30 am–5 pm
Where: Cavallo Point–the Lodge at the Golden Gate, Fort Baker, Sausalito, CA

To find out more and apply, visit

The deadline for applications is February 17, 2012.

Source: The Google Earth Outreach Team

Thursday, February 2, 2012

GIS improves rainfall data collection and information services in West Africa

Climate researchers have developed a system that uses GIS, computers, and the internet to improve rainfall data management and information delivery to farmers in West Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is highly dependent on rainfall. More than 90% of the land is used for farming, very little of which is irrigated. Despite this reliance on rainfall, there are relatively few monitoring stations in the region that gather the data that farmers need to plan their seasonal cultivation processes. Even in areas where rainfall data are collected, several weeks can pass before the information is processed and made available in a form that is useful to farmers.

To speed up and simplify the data collection and management procedures, a team of researchers from the University of Oklahoma has developed a geographic information system (GIS) that monitors rainfall and its seasonal patterns. Known as Rainwatch, the system can also automatically generate visual representations of the data that can be easily interpreted by interested parties, including farmers.

The team has initially tested Rainwatch in Niger, where the Direction de la Météorologie Nationale du Niger (DMNN) is responsible for monitoring weather and climate. The country suffered a severe drought in 2009, followed by its wettest year in a generation in 2010, and then a return to severe rainfall deficiencies in 2011. Although there are more than 200 stations in Niger’s rainfall monitoring network, most are ‘rain gauge only’ sites maintained by volunteer observers. They report rainfall data to DMNN’s operations office in Niamey once a day by telephone or radio. Only 14 stations transmit data on an hourly basis throughout the year, using telex and phone.

From these data, DMNN compiles rainfall reports that are broadcast on national and local radio and on national television – although TV reception is limited to the major urban areas. DMNN also publishes regular bulletins for the country’s eight provinces, and shares data with policy makers and the national committee for early warning and disaster management systems (Comité Nationale du Systeme d’Alerte Précoce et de Gestion des Catastrophes).

Although rainfall levels are broadcast on radio daily, it can take up to two weeks before DMNN releases data that have undergone any kind of analysis. Users of rainfall data outside the research community are not interested in exact rainfall statistics. Most farmers and other groups who depend on rainfall prefer qualitative information relating to previous seasonal patterns. Farmers, for example, simply want to know if the weather is dry, wet, or normal for the time of year. A long delay in delivering processed data means they cannot rely on the information, and cannot plan ahead.

Rainwatch was developed to alleviate such limitations, and improve the way rainfall data is collected, managed and disseminated throughout West Africa. The system consists of a database and a program that customises several functions of ArcGIS and MapObjects software. The database is linked to a graphics feature, which automatically updates the related charts and graphs as new data are added. The software adaptations make it easy for the user to process and view the data, and prepare it for publication and distribution.

When users log on to Rainwatch, they see a map showing the geographic locations of rainfall monitoring stations throughout the country. Users can click on the relevant icon to view the rainfall data for a particular station, then choose to compare the figures for a particular period of time against the median or with other years or even with the results from other stations. The user can then use the program to produce a variety of graphics to illustrate the data.

The number of sites and/or years that can be seen simultaneously is limited only by the amount of information on the database. Users can also request further analyses of the data to show the frequency and intensity of rainfall in certain areas, or view the occurrence of dry spells; information that is especially useful to farmers.

The results are, of course, only as good as the data. Rainwatch works best and provides the most accurate analyses when an optimum number of observers regularly contribute data to the system. By simplifying the data management processes, Rainwatch could be the catalyst needed for many countries to improve their rainfall monitoring procedures. The researchers hope the system will be adopted more widely throughout West Africa where other more complicated rainfall data dissemination systems have had limited success.

Increased availability
Rainwatch uses self-explanatory symbols and easy-to-understand terminology. When the system was tested, new users quickly became comfortable and could navigate their way through its processes within ten minutes. The test users also found it easy to follow the system’s logic, and fully understand and interpret the graphics they produced.

Based on feedback from users so far, the research team is developing an updated version of the program. Users suggested including a feature that would trigger an early warning system once rainfall, or lack of it, reached a certain threshold. Users also wanted to be able to export data to spreadsheets easily for further analysis. The upgraded Rainwatch will also include other climatic variables, such as temperature, streamflow, and soil moisture – which are linked to activities like irrigation scheduling.

Another important change will be to make Rainwatch compatible with free GIS software. This will make it available to users who cannot afford the product licence for the ArcGIS program, something that has been required up to now. A lower cost version of the system would make it possible to train more observers and equip observation stations throughout the region, which could act as local weather information centres. Providing more localised services could lead to farmers having a greater awareness of rainfall data, and a higher likelihood of being able to use the information. With all these improvements, the researchers hope that Rainwatch will become the African counterpart to Australia’s Rainman rainfall monitoring software.

The current version of the system is mainly suited for use by national meteorological services, and organisations such as the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) based in Niamey, Niger. These centres could rapidly process and share their analyses with the media, researchers, educational institutions and agricultural extension services.

There are already plans to expand the use of Rainwatch beyond Niger. Starting in 2010, the long-term plan is to develop it into a web-based application that would be available to anyone with internet access. It could then be used alongside other climate information initiatives, using radio or cell phones, for example, to deliver weather details to people in rural communities.

The researchers believe that Rainwatch can especially benefit national meteorological services by improving the automation of rainfall data collection and database management. The ability to produce easily interpreted charts and graphics increases the likelihood that the information is distributed to more people. These are critical features in reducing the time lag between collecting the data and delivering it to farmers, and providing it in a format to help them adapt to a changing climate.


Aondover Tarhule
Zakari Saley-Bana
Peter J. Lamb

Reposted with permission from ICT Update

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adapting to risk: Communities use GIS and GPS to assess climate risks in the Cook Islands

A local NGO tested an innovative participatory mapping approach to help communities in the Cook Islands assess climate risks. The resulting maps highlighted vulnerable areas, allowing the communities to develop strategies to adapt to climate change.

Extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones, long periods of drought, sea level rise and higher temperatures, lead to loss of soil fertility and land degradation, reducing food security in farming communities. The Cook Islands, like many small islands, are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. They comprise small land masses surrounded by ocean, and are located in a region prone to natural disasters.

With limited long-term meteorological data available, it is difficult to make accurate predictions on how climate change will affect the Cook Islands. However, there is consensus that the region is likely to experience more frequent extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, periods of extreme heat, an increase in cyclone intensity, increased climate variability and rise in sea levels.
Observations by Pacific Island communities indicate that predicted climate change effects are being experienced, and are causing considerable social, economic and environmental pressures. The ability of the communities to adapt to a changing climate is generally low, due to lack of information and awareness of the potential effects of changing weather patterns. Traditional natural resource management practices, however, still practiced in some parts of the Cook Islands, provide important tools for resilience in the face of environmental change.

In response to growing concerns about the possible effects of changing weather patterns, a local NGO, Te Rito Enua (TRE), tested the use of participatory GIS to assess climate vulnerability and adaptation planning in the Cook Islands. Together with the country’s government and with the support of the Asian Development Bank, TRE worked with four communities on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Both islands face similar problems of water shortages, deforestation and soil erosion as a result of climate change. Their terrain, however, is quite different. Rarotonga, the most populous island in the country, is mountainous, steep and heavily forested. Aitutaki is mainly atoll and lagoon, and so is flatter with some steeper land on the remains of the submerged volcano around which the atoll formed.

The project began in 2010, and lasted 10 months. In that time, TER worked with the communities to develop the practical tools and skills necessary to produce their own specific climate risk analysis. The organisation gave training courses in participatory mapping, with components in vulnerability and risk assessment, climate models, GPS and GIS, and map interpretation.

Participants, mostly volunteers, came from a cross-section of the community demography, ranging from school-aged youth to elders, including community leaders, resource users and professional resource managers. As a result of the training, all participants had a basic knowledge of the methods to be employed in the project, which they used to collect data from the field, and record assets that could be included later on maps.

This data, which participants within their own frame of reference, helped them identify issues that could affect the vulnerability of individual households and their wider community. They looked at facilities such as energy provision, water supply, sanitation services, port facilities and even civil defence. Important risks associated with climate change were identified through the assessment and mapping processes that were neither considered nor evident during national-level vulnerability assessments. One example is the waste management facilities situated near the pilot communities. Runoff from these landfill sites at times of heavy rain can adversely affect the adjoining aquatic ecosystems. The communities rely heavily on these vulnerable coastal resources for their livelihoods, and so future waste management solutions need to include these considerations at the early planning stages.

Additionally, the mapping information showed that disaster response shelters are often placed in areas vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surge inundation. Also, some households could experience a shortage of water as the climate changes, which will mean enhanced water conservation measures, such as developing programmes for better rainwater harvesting. Rarotonga in particular is dependent upon surface water supplies for domestic consumption and has suffered periodic water shortages in recent years as sources have dried up. Another significant factor revealed by the project was the extent of invasive plant species in the environment. Observers had noticed that the watersheds of both Rarotonga and Aitutaki were infested with Cardiospermum grandiflorum (balloon vine), Merremia peltata (kurima), and Mikania micrantha (mile-a-minute weed). Rising levels of carbon dioxide create conditions that promote the growth of such invasive plants, and because their spread is facilitated by cyclones, it appears likely that they will continue to thrive as the climate changes, with – as yet – unknown implications for biodiversity and for water security. Available evidence shows that the species are having a devastating impact on the native vegetation and natural watershed systems. The implications for water supply in this already water-stressed country are not clear, but are a cause for concern.

Practical solutions
After the data collection phase, the project team integrated the information into existing government GIS files to highlight areas where a changing climate could potentially affect the environment. The resulting map layers were combined with information from a climate model commonly used for planning in the region. The new data were shared with the government to be integrated into their GIS database and made accessible to the National Environment Service, and relevant ministries. Each community received a paper map, known as a ‘vulnerability atlas’, showing the information specific to their area. The project team also facilitated meetings to discuss the implications of the mapping and the surveying process, and to gauge community perceptions of climate change. These discussions identified the main risks and developed plans for priority actions. Each community set up a Climate Change and Disaster Committee to ensure the plans would be followed. In some instances, the communities identified traditional practices, including organic farming and resource management methods, as having considerable value as adaptation measures to reduce the greatest climate change risks. One example was the traditional ra'ui system of resource allocation, which two communities identified as a way to improve the resilience of vulnerable water resources. Communities in Aitutaki also suggested promoting traditional building practices and styles, which could help mitigate the effects of the anticipated increase in extreme heat events.
Some community participants were initially sceptical about the project, because they felt that the government had already mapped everything that was important. However, once they were able to re-envision maps, and given access to mapping tools, the communities became enthusiastic. As one of the senior participants of the Aitutaki planning process observed, ‘I've lived on the island most of my life, and have today seen things I’ve never noticed before.’

Being able to participate in the production of maps that were explicitly for and about them gradually led to discussions on their social and physical environment that went well beyond the more obvious dimensions of climate change and climate adaptation. The discussions touched on deeper social issues such as cultural erosion, loss of language, unsustainable resource use, invasive species and out-migration.
Planning for climate adaptation became a way of framing the broader suite of development issues. Because of this, the communities were able to take ownership of mapping their environment and the assets within it that are important to their identity and survival.

The project showed that a community-based participatory approach is a valuable tool for bringing the reality of climate change to bear at the local and household level. A process of discussing, debating, and problem solving produces more resilient communities that are more able to organise themselves and prepare for a changing climate.

Not only does participatory mapping provide communities with tangible evidence of the risks associated with climate change, but the community mapping process also highlights behavioural and development issues that affect the vulnerability of individual households and the community at large. There was a discernable sense of empowerment by participating communities in developing vulnerability maps and having them available. Without exception, all the pilot communities requested printed copies of the vulnerability atlases for display in public places to engender support for change and implementation of their proposed action plans.

Measures to build upon this project would include using the existing capacity as an emerging centre of excellence. The centre’s prime role would be to educate trainers to improve the ability of community mapping practitioners to convey techniques and best practices to other communities.

To overcome the bottleneck in trained personnel, and the high costs of using commercial products, the training of young and motivated community members in open source GIS products, such as Q-GIS, will make the adoption of this technology for community mapping possible. A regional facility to build capacity for community mapping and access to remote sensing analysis will go far towards helping Pacific island communities to adapt to climate change.

The project found that the participatory processes generated local knowledge unavailable to high-level planners. The process also generated a strong sense of ownership of the outcomes by communities, and increased the knowledge and awareness of participants about climate change risks and the implications for their families and communities. Finally, it increased the skills needed to develop more communities that are more resilient.

This approach allows adaptation strategies to be developed from the bottom-up – from the family through to the community, island and eventually the national level – at the same time as the national strategy is developed from the top down.

It should be noted, of course, that a community-based approach is no substitute for a technically rigorous national approach to climate change. Some important technical issues lie outside the competency of communities, and the scale can be too great; a patchwork of community approaches could potentially result in the geographic division of responsibilities that require a more unified approach. For example, ecosystem-based approaches require interventions at ecosystem scales.

However, it is also clear that the communities are not fully engaged on the realities of climate change. This is clearly an issue of environmental awareness and ownership. Climate change issues have so far been the 'government's role' in the eyes of many communities, largely due to government officials being the ones engaged in the climate debate and conducting climate change vulnerability and adaptation activities.
Linking the national efforts to local communities, therefore, is best demonstrated through the community-based approach of site-specific adaptation planning. Adaptation thus becomes everyone’s business.


John Waugh
Mona Matepi
George de Romilly

Reposted with permission from ICT Update

Web 2.0 in Africa - Agriculture and New Technologies - Web2forDev

An eight minute Business Africa/CTA video production documenting actual cases on the use of Web 2.0 applications in the development sector, specifically among farmers in Africa.

Top Seven Reasons Why Most ICT4D Projects Fail

Dr. Clint Rogers shares interviews and insights from Teachers and Professionals around Africa for why they feel most ICT4D Projects FAIL? Included are important questions for reflection and discussion. Let's not waste time and money doing the same things that don't work -- Join the discussion, Your thoughts matter... Much of the film was captured at the ICT4D Poverty Reduction Summit and this video was first released for the 2010 IPID Meeting, later presented at the European Union EDULINK Stakeholders Event Thank you for your help in translating!