Participatory Geographic Information Systems


Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) have been used to add value to traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation, advocacy and policy processes in the Pacific and Caribbean.  

The adoption of PGIS coupled with acquired skills in using social media has enabled grassroots communities to add value and authority to their local knowledge and to ‘have a voice’ in policy processes.

In CTA’s 2011-15 and 2016-2020 Strategic Plans, it recognises that smallholders, subsistence farmers, pastoralists and fishers are especially vulnerable to climate change. In addition it highlights that demands on natural resources for agriculture (land, water, plant nutrients and biodiversity) are increasing, leading to conflicts due to competing claims. In this context, CTA promotes of enabling policy environments for implementing effective long-term adaptation actions. CTA’s strategic approach in ACP countries focuses on ICT tools and knowledge management practices favouring multi-stakeholder engagement and knowledge sharing. CTA promotes the accessibility and effective use of PGIS, Web 2.0 and social media among its direct beneficiaries (i.e. technology intermediaries, associations, groups and networks representing farmers, fishers, pastoralists, youth and women, research institutions and national government bodies). CTA does this to stimulate their active participation in planning climate change adaptation strategies and to feed their findings and proposed solutions into policy making processes.

Over the years CTA has maintained close contact with the beneficiaries of these activities by nurturing a bilingual community of practice hosted on Dgroups (English community and French community) and through a number of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

CTA has developed, in partnership with IFAD and the Ford Foundation Brazil, a Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication, which is available in three languages. CTA has published, in partnership with the UNDP GEF-SGP, the Handbook on Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling available in five languages including Amharic. On the same topic, CTA has released a number of video productions available on the PGIS vimeo channel. CTA updates its PGIS website daily.

Progress to date

CTA introduced PGIS practice in the Pacific (Fiji, 2005) and led its use in East Africa (Kenya, 2006), Central Africa (Gabon 2010, Chad 2011) and the Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago 2012, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada 2013) and supported its replication in several other ACP countries by building capacity within national and regional organisations and stimulating resource mobilisation via the donor community. The outputs and outcomes of PGIS-related activities (reports, blog posts, video documentaries, photo stories, published papers, and online maps) have been used at various international fora (e.g. UNFCC Conferences of the Parties, International Conference on SIDS, IUCN Congresses) to document the value of indigenous knowledge in natural resource management and climate change adaptation and in bridging the gap between scientific and traditional knowledge systems.

Ongoing activities 

In the context of this initiative, CTA operates at two levels. First within the context of its Regional Business Plans to support active involvement of local stakeholders, and secondly on a global level to nurture its global community of practice, favour exchange of knowledge and promote PGIS practice at the global level. In this context CTA provides networking opportunities and offers capacity building in PGIS practice, mobilises co-funding and builds partnerships to promote the inclusion of grassroots in multi-stakeholder land and resource use planning processes aimed at creating resilient agri-food systems and profitable agribusiness, all in the context of climate change adaptation.

Outputs and outcomes

PGIS activities in Fiji won the 2007 WSIS World Summit Award in the e-culture category.

Capacity has been built in several regions and facilitators are available on demand. Several centres of excellence in PGIS process facilitation have already been established in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

CTA is keen on documenting lessons learnt, assessing impact of its activities and document success stories. Three impact assessments have been completed specifically for Africa (2013), Pacific and Caribbean (2015). It has recently prepared a success stories booklet which is in lay-out stage. It will be published in 2016. Close collaboration with GEF-SGP and IUCN has resulted in co-funding being mobilised in several countries.

p3dm2A woman from the pastoralist community of El Fasher‬ in Sudan explains the 3D model to Mr. Hamza Khalil, Minister of Environment, North Darfur State © Barthélemy Boika Mahambi Yela

© 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.