Participatory Mapping as a tool for empowerment

Lessons Learned from the ILC Network

This publication shares the experiences from the International Coalition’s network on participatory mapping as a tool for communities to gain secure access to land and natural resources. "(...) “Participatory Mapping as a tool for empowerment” brings together a number of valuable experiences on community-mapping approaches. These represent a set of tools and methods that are rapidly being taken up, developed, improved and shared by community-based organizations in many parts of the world. Map making at the community level can be a very empowering tool in securing land rights. Locally-produced maps present a collective expression by the community of their entitlements, and have been used successfully in many contexts to persuade decision makers of the legitimacy of local claims to land and natural resources. For populations that have been marginal to national political and economic processes, creating maps of ‘their’ lands has been a means not only to validate their land claims, but also to becoming more powerful in espressing and defending their rights within national processes. Legal recognition of rights is thus often only one of a series of outcomes of community-based mapping. Increased community pride and cohesion, ability to influence policy, sounder natural resource management, and a greater political voice can be equally important outcomes. These are all important milestones towards enabling people to more actively decide what ‘development’ should mean in their own communities and territories. Bruce H. Moore