Web-based guide to participatory orthophoto mapping...now live!
If you have a minute, please check out www.mapeoamano.org, and give me feedback; or better yet, leave a few comments on the site itself. The website is an effort to document and improve a mapping tool called A-MANO. In A-MANO, stakeholders transform a satellite image into a dynamic map of the focus area of a community-based development project. In sequential mapping sessions, local people and technical specialists collaborate to put their respective knowledge on the map. In doing, the map becomes much more than a visual representation of the community. When practitioners add to the map the technical data they have gathered, local people gain access to a valuable body of knowledge. And when local people contribute their knowledge to the map, development practitioners gain access to a comprehensive and multi-layered body of data that they can use to better target their efforts. The key is the use of a satellite photo as a base layer of the map: because local people can literally see their community during the participatory mapping phase of A-MANO, they can quickly identify and accurately map features.
The particular project for which the method was developed is a 10-year initiative to protect water resources and the communities that depend upon them (Global Water Initiative - http://www.globalwaterinitiative.com). One goal of the website is to provide support to the technical specialists throughout Central America involved in that project. Another goal is to reach out to researchers and practitioners in related fields who might be able to adapt this type of method in part or completely, to their own activities. While developing A-MANO, we realized that the approach could benefit a wide-range of community development / natural resource conservation projects. So that's why I'm interested in getting the word out.
Many thanks to Alex Mandel over at ICE for help with the website infrastructure.