PLA 54: Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication

This edition of Participatory Learning and Action focuses on geo-spatial information management tools.

Article, 31 March 2006
Participatory Learning and Action
A journal for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike.

IIED and CTA, April 2006

Guest editors: Giacomo Rambaldi, Jon Corbett, Mike McCall, Rachel Olson, Julius Muchemi, Peter Kwaku Kyem, Daniel Weiner, with Robert Chambers.

PGIS is an evolved form of community mapping, the result of a spontaneous merger of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) methods with Geographic information Technologies and Systems (GIT&S).

If used appropriately, PGIS practice may have profound implications and stimulate innovation and social change. PGIS aims at placing control on access and use of culturally sensitive spatial data in the hands of those who generated the data thereby protecting traditional knowledge and wisdom from external exploitation.

“… it may take more than a thorough read of this IIED/CTA co-publication to become an expert on PGIS - but there could be no better starting place.” - Dr William Critchley, CIS-Centre for International Cooperation - Read the full review...

The articles represent a considerable depth of experience, documenting established and cutting-edge tools and a selection of articles on theory and reflections from practice – including ethical considerations, potential pitfalls and other lessons learnt from experience.

PLA 54 is particularly timely as it highlights and documents a significant coming-of-age in PGIS practice, which over the last decade has grown into a networked and united community of practitioners.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Content can be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided the source is fully acknowledged. 

Follow the links below to download the whole issue or individual articles in pdf format.

Download complete issue

Supplementary multi-lingual CD-ROM



Glossary of PGIS terms

Theme section

Overview: Mapping for Change - the emergence of a new practice 
by Jon Corbett, Giacomo Rambaldi, Peter Kyem, Dan Weiner, Rachel Olson, Julius Muchemi, Mike McCall and Robert Chambers.

Tool-based case studies

Using Community Information Systems to express traditional knowledge embedded in the landscape 
by Jon Corbett and Peter Keller

Resource use, development planning, and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage: lessons from Fiji Islands 
by Giacomo Rambaldi, Silika Tuivanuavou, Penina Namata, Paulo Vanualailai, Sukulu Rupeni, and Etika Rupeni

(NB the Fiji Island project was recently selected as one of the World Summit Award 2007 Winners in the Category e-Culture ).

Finding a common ground in multi-party land use conflicts using PGIS: lessons from Ghana 
by Peter A. Kwaku Kyem

Is there life after tenure mapping? 
by Peter Poole

Issue-based case studies

PGIS as a sustained (and sustainable?) practice: First Nation Experiences in Treaty 8 BC, Canada 
Craig Candler, Rachel Olson, Steven DeRoy, and Kieran Broderick

A participatory approach to monitoring slum conditions: an example from Ethiopia 
Tsion Lemma, Richard Sliuzas and Monika Kuffer

Capacity development and PGIS for land demarcation: innovations from Nicaragua 
Sylvanie Jardinet

The power of maps: cartography with indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon 
by the inhabitants of Moikarako, Pascale de Robert, Jean-François Faure, and Anne-Elisabeth Laques

Land and natural resource mapping by San Communities and NGOs: experiences from Namibia 
Julie Taylor and Carol Murphy with Simon Mayes, Elvis Mwilima, Nathaniel Nuulimba and Sandra Slater-Jones

Participatory GIS and local knowledge enhancement for community carbon forestry planning: an example from Cameroon 
Peter A. Minang and Michael K. McCall

Theory and reflections from practice

Mapping projects: identifying obstacles, finding solutions 
Mac Chapin

Mapping power: ironic effects of spatial information technology 
Jefferson Fox, Krisnawati Suryanata, Peter Hershock and Albertus Hadi Pramono

Practical ethics for PGIS practitioners, facilitators, technology intermediaries and researchers 
Giacomo Rambaldi, Robert Chambers, Mike McCall and Jefferson Fox.

Precision for whom? Mapping ambiguity and certainty in (participatory) GIS
Mike McCall

General Section

The world in a suitcase: psychosocial support using artwork with refugee children in South Africa 
Glynis Clacherty

The role of local elites in development projects: an experience from Sudan 
Dipankar Datta

Tips for trainers: the Snowball technique
Mike McCall, Holly Ashley and Giacomo Rambaldi

In Touch, including reviews of resources related to PGIS including book reviews and websites

RCPLA Network pages

Related resources


The articles for this special issue were selected from papers presented at the Mapping for Change: International Conference of Spatial Information Management and Communication held in Nairobi, Kenya, 7th-10th September 2005. This special issue was supported by the following organisations:

Multilingual CD-ROM

Participatory Learning and Action 54: Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication.

IIED and CTA, July 2007

Price $40.00

Ordering information

The Participatory Mapping for Change CD-ROM is an exciting multi-lingual project in the Participatory Learning and Action series. Co-published by IIED and CTA, the CD-ROM contains PDF versions of the theme articles from Participatory Learning and Action 54: Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication, in the following languages:

Arabic, Bangla, Chinese (traditional and simplified), English, French, Hindi, Persian-Dari, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil.

It also includes other key resources (mainly in English), such as DVD examples from practice, a glossary of terms, practical ethics for PGIS practitioners, the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity and related UNESCO Conventions, an overview of experiences from the International Land Coalition (ILC) network, links to other resources, video clips from the Mapping for change conference in Nairobi, the P3DM video, as well as past articles which appeared in PLA of relevance to the theme - all presented in an easy-to-use format.

Subscribers to the series will receive a free copy with PLA 56, as will all new subscribers. Copies are also available from our booksellers Earthprint Ltd, priced US$40 plus postage and packaging, or free to non-OECD customers.

The Participatory Mapping for Change CD-ROM has been supported by:

We are grateful to all our partners for this support and to the Resource Centres for Participatory Learning and Action (RCPLA) and other colleagues for assisting us with the translation of articles.