19.7.2  Community mapping

During community mapping a map is drawn of selected physical features on a flat surface (Figure 19.11). The selected features for a village could be:

  • The natural resources.
  • The poverty pattern(s).
  • The territory of the village.
  • The housing pattern(s).
  • The cropping pattern(s).
  • The space and the area the village occupies.
A community map hanging on a wall with a member of the community standing in front.
Figure 19.11  Community mapping is an assessment tool that can help communities and Health Extension Practitioners identify and understand the real situations in local communities that positively or negatively impact their health. (Photo: Last Ten Kilometres Project)

Community maps can help you to identify households, community water points, health services, etc. The mapping exercise is done with the participation of the community members, and helps the community to explore and visualise the community and their local environment.

Prior to the mapping, do the following:

  • Choose a place where most of the community members can participate.
  • Involve the community to collect materials like ash or sand to sketch the map.
  • Go round the localities on foot, or do a walk to see the key areas like the site of the health centre, the kebele office, the church, the main road, the river, etc. Ask the community members to sketch the map, and put signs for those key areas using ash or sand.

Clearly, community mapping is a collective exercise. But if you have not done it before, begin by just trying out a map for yourself on a piece of paper. Do a walkabout and draw in a rough plan of the village — where the crops are, where the various public places are (Figure 19.12). After you have done this, you may want to try thinking about where there are particular pockets of poverty in the village, or locations where you know there are more health problems than others.

4 images representing the process by which a community map is made.
Figure 19.12  The process of doing a community map is really important and can help people understand health problems in their community.

Doing an exercise like this does not compromise you doing it with members of the community. If you aren’t used to mapping then a rehearsal is probably a good idea. When you do it for real a number of you will go on a walkabout, and in these circumstances you will find that many eyes find different things from one pair of eyes. You will get a genuinely communal map. You will also have a much richer map (Figure 19.13).

A simple sketched community map to help the community understand the health issue.
Figure 19.13  Even a very simple map might help you and the community to understand some health issues.

19.7.1  Levels of community participation

Summary of Study Session 19