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Application of Participatory GIS for Rural Community Development and Local Level Spatial Planning System in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Published: October 2008

Present age of human history is known as the information society, or the age of knowledge. The Socio-Economic impact acquired in this manner is huge since sustainable development is unthinkable without knowledge based society. Sustainable development can be defined as constant improvement in the quality of life for the current generation, or better quality of life for the subsequent generation; all form the same sources of Earth.

Participation in community development is significant factor which can help to achieve the development goal. How does the village community having identified their community needs and plan their development themselves? That should reflect through their development plan.

What are the benefits of participation in community development?
• Community interest in the development process.
• Community interest in the localities in which such a project is planned.
• Empower the Communities in the decision making process.
• Communities able to fully contribute their own local knowledge to the repository of expert environmental and social data.
• Facilitation, investigation, analysis, presentation and learning by local people and sharing of information and ideas.
• Expectation of Village development by plans formulated outside the villages at urban centres with less knowledge on the village realities and imposed upon village communities from the top.

Community development can be defined broadly as strategies to build local capacity and improve the quality of life in geographic communities; community informatics is promising approach for taking advantage of information and communication technology to further the goal of community development. It is Important. However that proponent of this approach recognizes that it is based on assumption that technology in itself can be lead to positive social development.

Participatory GIS can be considered as a rudimentary Community-based Geographic Information gathering; the use of different coding methods allows for the composition and storage of thematic information layers; this in turn facilitates community-based analysis of spatially-defined information and the display of results. The tool processes existing data and its output(for instance the change in policy by decision makers in favour of society welfare), providing the foundation upon which public participation GIS can release in its full potential, by displaying multiple realities and conflicting interest through the eye of all concerned stakeholders. Public Participatory Geographical Information System(PPGIS) is the field of this research proposal that focus on the use of GIS by general public and aims at involving citizens in a decision making process. This can be used as a platform for communication and dissermination of information which can link community participation and Gegraphical information in diversity of social and environmental context.

The main purpose of participatory GIS techniques is to enable development practitioners, government officials, and local level people to work together to plan appropriate programs. This approach draws heavily on concepts developed under the broad development of GIS in terms of data access, data representation, and structural knowledge distortion and community empowerment as being legitimate and significant issues in the application of community development projects.

What is GIS?

Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing spatially reference data. GIS can facilitate the understanding of spatial aspects of social and economic development by:

• Relating socio-economic variables to natural resources and the physical world;
• Providing a tool for targeting interventions and monitoring impacts at various scales over wide areas.
• Put planning and research technology into the public domain to enrich – and enhance access to – information, to promote discussion and improve understanding of conflicting view points.
As Personal Computers (PC) , Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) become more sophisticated. GIS is becoming a more accessible tool for storing and analyzing information, mapping, visualizing and modeling development scenarios; for monitoring progress and change. GIS can be applied at various scales and levels of complexity, and dedicated systems for application in a variety of specialized context; could become as standard on the average computer as spreadsheets, word processors and databases.

What is participatory GIS?

Participatory GIS is the integration of local knowledge and stakeholders’ perspectives in the GIS. Stakeholders should also have access to GIS databases, products and be able to apply GIS as well as GIS products to development planning, resource management and promotion. A variety of terms and acronyms are used by practitioners, such as participatory GIS (P-GIS), which is used throughout this Guide, GIS with participation (GIS-P) and community or stakeholder integrated GIS; but essentially these all refer to the same set of concepts and practices.

GIS in Rural Development

The principle application of GIS in rural development are land and resource mapping, integration of local and scientific spatial knowledge, community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), area planning, environmental management, management of pests and natural hazards. The applications may be more, or less, participatory according to the data collection and analysis techniques and the degree of stakeholder consultation, feedback and the level at which any management decisions are taken.

Objectives of the Study

• Pursuing social goals through participatory Geographical Information System
• Employing a Participatory Approach in applying Geo-Information to Spatial Planning
• Development of regional Geographical Information Infrastructure for the State, INGO, NGO, or any other development practitioners.

Significance of Study

• Public participatory GIS is a field of research that has not been fully focused in Sri Lanka.
• GIS is a new technology, which can be adopted as a tool for analyzing and integrating the spatial and non spatial data in the community development projects. Public Participatory GIS can be integrated the local knowledge and Modern technology. This study derived from combining participation and GIS results and its powerful communication medium which bridge the gap between indigenous technical knowledge and scientific knowledge and there by increase the capacity of local stakeholders and policy makers to interact, locally, with external agencies and with central government of Sri Lanka.
• Lack of spatial information in rural and regional level is one of the main problems for development practitioners and Government officials and local level planners. This project focus and develop longstanding development plan for everyone in the planning environment
• Government authorities can use the spatial distribution of resources and its usage pattern as acquired by the participatory GIS Process for planning the tribal policy and deciding the place for the setting outsiders.
• This approach draws heavily on concepts developed under the broad umbrella of GIS Society and critical GIS.

Data Collection
     Source of Data
   • Primary Data collection
PRA (Participatory Rural Approach)
PRA is the name for an increasing number of participatory approaches and techniques which emphasize local knowledge and enable local people to make their own appraisal, analysis and plans. Participatory tools which include group discussion, semi-structured interviews and transect walk to collect data

I. Transect Mapping (Transect walk)

These Tools are used to gain information on different natural resource zones and forms of land use around a community. Transect mapping is a tool used to describe the location and distribution of resources, the landscape and main land uses. In addition it allows participants to identify constraints and opportunities with specific reference to locations or particular types of environment encounter along the route of transect.

Transect walks are systematic walks with key informants through the area of interest, observing, asking, listening, looking and identifying zones. By walking through a field, spatial data such as land use, settlement pattern and people’s perception of these can be investigated and discussed in detail. This helps to generate an overview of a given area and at the same time draws attention to unusual characteristics. Used in connection with semi-structured interviews this tool can be particularly helpful in understanding intersection between the physical environmental human activities. The way point can be marked using GPS. The different activities as observed on the ground can be recorded.

II. Participatory Sketch Mapping

This is informal method for collecting and plotting information on the occurrences, distribution, access and use of resources within the economic and cultural domain of a specific community. It is a simple tool, easily adopted and replicated at community level.

The farmers draw “maps” showing environmental variability, seasonal movement, traditional territories, etc. These can be drawn on the Ground with a stick, particularly if farmers are unfamiliar with paper and pens. They can also be drawn directly on large sheets of paper(in which case it can be useful to use different color marker pens), Early enthusiastic of the method stressed the importance of farmers physically drawing maps themselves with local material; but in many cases good results can be obtained when farmers simply advise and investigate. In many cases the opportunity to use the map as a springboard for semi-structured interviews may be just as available, or more valuable, than the map itself. This technique prove very useful with livestock procedures, especially with semiextensive and extensive systems. The intensive system maps can also be used to explore folder resources, marketing, input supply and service provision linkages.

III. Social mapping

Generates spatially referenced information demography, health, economic activities, religion, ethno-linguistics characteristics, infrastructure and other socioeconomic factors.

IV. Information Mapping

Closely related to social mapping and to participatory sketch mapping, an information map shows the various sources and channels of Communication that people use. With a group of small stock keepers, you can create a map which shows where they get information from and who they go for advice. We can also show how easy or difficult it is to access them by the distance between each source and the farmers.

V. Wealth ranking and Poverty Mapping

Ranking of household into different classes defined by locally accepted indices of wealth or well being, or their opposites.

VI. Village Mapping

Shape of village boundary, distribution of road network, housing units, water streams, other prominent features are drawn by the community on the ground.

VII. Resource mapping

Identification of existing resources and mapping. This can be used as a village plan and the livelihood activities.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

• GPS can apply from PRA stage to the data validation and accuracy checking.
• Locating service centers, housing units, digitizing road network, and getting well precision point for geocoding satellite images.
Baseline Survey

• Wealth ranking and poverty mapping cannot be done without using baseline data. Data should be collected using Survey questionnaire.

• Secondary Data collection

• Data Processing

The range of different mapbased products and techniques now available for use in participatory techniques has inevitably converged with the use of computer based Geographical Information System (GIS) unlike sketch maps, and sophisticated database tools. Participatory GIS approach based on using Geo-Spatial or map based information management tools ranging from sketch maps, Arial Photographs, Satellite Imagery, and Global Positioning System (GPS), and Geographical Information System (GIS) to combine peoples’ spatial knowledge in the form of two or three dimensional maps.

  • Bottom-up Planning Process

  • This process can be used from the village and micro level planning system to the regional and national level.

  • Data Analysis/Data Interpretation

  • Micro Level Plan

    "Information is mutch an emergency need, as other elements such as water, food and shelter". This is important, because it meanse that GIS can provide more problem - solving capabilities than using simple mapping programs or adding data to an online mapping tool. Planners are able to decide where they are going to implement their project. That would be targeted to;

    • Capacity Building
    • Livelihood Improvement
    • Infrastructure Development in the Village.
    Applicable GIS Techniques are,

    • Statistical Analysis
    • Spatial Analysis
    • Network Analysis
    • Locational Analysis • 3D Analysis
    • Overlay Operations

    Regional Level Plan

    Local level administrative system can be modernized and accelerated through the GIS technology. From the Village level System can be dissolve in to Pradesiya Sabha Level. PS Ministers can develop their Village Inter Connectivity Plan using participatory GIS technology.

    Information Presentation

    • Village level information could be user friendly for the community in the village. They can print their Village map as planning and monitoring tool.

    • Regional Level Computer based Information System should be established in the local administrative office with GIS technology. They can use this system for project planning and monitoring.

    Limitations Risks associated with this study

    Since GIS has generally been an expertdriven technology, which is controlled centrally by state agencies, research institutions and private corporations. A number of risks have been associated with its deployment in the service of human centred development. These include;

    • Only expert knowledge or data that are readily available in digital form – as opposed to local knowledge – will be incorporated in GIS.

    • Planning decisions will be made by experts and technocrats with access to GIS technology but without reference to those directly affected.

    • Personal and community security may be violated if information supplied by local people is used by outsiders and developers without their knowledge, consent or understanding.

    • GIS is relatively costly and, unless safeguards are built in to ensure effective use, the costs are unlikely to be matched by real social benefits.

    These risks are real, but they can be addressed by deploying GIS in institutional and Policy contexts in which there is a real commitment to incorporating the needs and perspectives of local people in development research and in planning and resource management process.

    Time Frame (Year 2008)

    Literature Review

    1. HUTCHINSON C.F. and TOLEDANO (1993) Guidelines for demonstrating GIS Based on participatory development. International Journal of GIS, 7(5): 453–461.

    2. Julian Quan, Nicoliene Oudwater,Judith Pender and Adrienne Martin (2001),GIS AND PARTICIPATORY APPROACHES IN NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH, University of Greenwich

    3. M.K. McCall,ITC, Enschede, Netherlands (April 2008), Participatory Mapping and Participatory GIS (PGIS) for DRR, Community Risk and Hazard Assessment.

    4. Musnanda Satar (November 2004-February ), Using Participatory GIS to Identified Local Landuse Zoning for Conservation in Merauke District, Papua, Indonesia.

    5. Lerio A. Agdalipe(2003) and Somsak Boromthanarat, Application of PRA integrated GIS:Tools to Develop Management Arrangement for the Devolution of Mangrove Management in the Municipality of Panay, Capiz, Philippine

    6. Grand Jury Ventura County (2005 – 2006) Geographic Information System Data Sharing.

    7. Afroza Ahmed and Md. Monirul Alam, Bangladesh(Kolkata -Calcutta), India, 2002), “Need assessment using PRA and GIS techniques”

    8. Craig Ficenec, “Explorations of Participatory GIS in Three Andean Watersheds”

    9. Kyem, P. A. K. (2002b). Promoting local community participation in forest management through a PPGIS application in southern Ghana. p. 218-231. In W. J. Craig, T. M. Harris and D. Weiner (ed.) Community Participation and Geographic Information Systems. London, Taylor & Francis.

    10. Al-Kodmany, Kheir. 1996. GIS and the Artist: Shaping the Image of a Neighborhood in Participatory Environmental Design., Urban Planning and Policy Program, University of Illinois at Chicago. WWW: html

    11. Ram Alagan ,2007,Participatory GIS Approaches to Environmental Impact Assessment: A Case study of the Appalachian Corridor H Transportation Project Application of Participatory GIS for rural community development and local level spatial planning System in Sri Lanka 20

    12. Michael K. McCall, April 2004, Can Participatory-GIS Strengthen Local-level Spatial Planning? Suggestions for Better Practice

    13. Aitken, Stuart C. (2002) Public participation, technological discourses and the scale of GIS. (Chap. 27) IN: Craig; Harris; & Weiner (eds) (2002)

    14. Craig, William J.; Harris, Trevor M.; and Weiner, Daniel (eds) (2002) Community Participation and Geographic Information Systems.

    15. Goetz, Anne Marie; and John Gaventa with others (2001) Governance: Bringing Citizen Voice and Client Focus into Service Delivery. Brighton: University of Sussex, IDS Working Paper No. 138. (65p.)

    16. McKinnon, John (2001) ,Integration Participatory Local & Regional Planning for Resources Management using Remote Sensing & GIS. Wageningen: Wageningen University, PhD Thesis. Enschede: ITC Diss. No.92.(170p)

    17. Nitesh Tripathi ,(2004)Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and GIS for Participatory Natural Resource Management: State-of-the-Practice

    18. Alenka krek1, thomas blaschke (2003)analysis of online public Participatory GIS applications with respect to the differences between the us and Europe Key words

    Key words

    GIS -Geographical Information System
    PGIS - Participatory Geographical Information System
    RGII - Regional Geographical Information Infrastructure
    VDP -Village Development Plan
    EIA -Environmental Impact Assessment
    CDD -Community Driven Development
    MIS -Management Information System
    GPS -Global Positioning System
    RS -Remote Sensing
    PRA -Participatory Rural Appraisal
    DSD - Divisional Secretariat Division
    PS -Pradesiya Sabha
    DBMS -Database Management System
    INGO -International Non-Government Organization
    NGO - Non-Government Organization

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