Nairobi, Kenya, 7-10 Sept 2005

The participatory creation of maps, above and beyond their interpretation, started in the late 1980s. At that time, development practitioners were inclined to adopt Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods (i.e, sketch mapping) rather than venturing into more complex, demanding and time consuming scale mapping. Preference was given to eliciting indigenous knowledge and utilizing local community dynamics to facilitate communication between insiders and outsiders (researchers).

In the 90s, with the diffusion of modern spatial information technologies including geographic information systems (GIS), low-cost global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing image analysis software, open access to data via the Internet and steadily decreasing cost of computer hardware, spatial data became progressively more accessible to and mastered by non-governmental and community-based organisations, minority groups and sectors of society traditionally disenfranchised by maps and marginalized from decision making processes. This new environment facilitated the integration of geographic information technologies and systems (GIT&S) into community-centred initiatives.

This has spurred a rapid development in community-based management of spatial information through what is generally termed Participatory GIS (PGIS, see

Now a conference will bring together people with extensive practical experience in Participatory GIS and community mapping in Developing Countries and First Nations.

The focus of the event will be on sharing experiences and defining good practices for making geographic information technologies and systems (GIT&S) available to less-favoured groups in society in order to enhance their capacity in generating, managing and communicating spatial information in the following contexts:

  • asserting ancestral land and resource rights and entitlements;
  • supporting collaborative planning and management of lands and natural resources;
  • promoting equity in terms of ethnicity, culture, gender, environmental justice, hazard mitigation, etc;
  • managing and ameliorating conflicts amongst and between local community groups, and between communities and higher-level authorities or economic forces; and
  • supporting cultural heritage preservation and identity building among indigenous peoples and rural communities.

For more information on the conference and other relevant links please consult the following URLs:

Conference web site:

Registration procedures and costs:

Draft Conference Programme:

Participatory GIS electronic discussion forum: