Peoples Participatory GIS (3D Modelling of Northern Ghana)

   Enhancing Food Security, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Planning in Ghana Using Participatory Three Dimensional Model Map

Romeo Banaynal1 and Ernest Dwamena1

1. Read More (pdf version) P3DM (word version)   2. Integrated Approaches to Participatory Development

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3 Dimensional Model map of Northern Half of Ghana- 1:250,000 (Designed for regional flooding, food security and climate change planning) by Romeo Banaynal and Ernest Dwamena

The climate has changed; droughts, floods,  erratic and unpredictable weather conditions continue to threaten the livelihoods of  people in Ghana especially in the Northern sector. It is unprecedentedly washing away communities, destroying biodiversity and natural ecosystems. It is therefore necessary for the cooperation and active participation of all those concerned to ensure the sustainable management of our environment and natural resources.

Since 2007 most communities within the catchment of the Volta river basin have experienced annual flooding but no permanent intervention has been put in place yet.  From December 2006 to June 2007, Northern Ghana  experienced long dry conditions and soon after was hit by heavy rains which resulted in floods killing 20 people and leaving 260,000 homeless (OCHA, 2007). Most of the people who were affected in the floods were poor farmers, who after losingtheir farms and other properties suffered from the aftermath of the floods, a contaminated environment and contaminated water.

Farmers within the catchments of the Volta river basin have began recording a drop in yield of 30%, a value less than the crop potential yield (CPWF, 2007).  This confirms the DFID (2004) and Nhemechena et al. (2007) reports that climate conditions will increase with frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions in Africa resulting in food and water insecurity.

This has turned into an annual phenomenon but so far most interventions made to tackle this menace have been a post-disaster relief. Attempts to relocated affected communities have also proved futile as communities are just reluctant to move anywhere.  A more holistic approach is therefore needed to effectively manage this situation.

A community participatory 3-dimensional modelling is a powerful community-based communication, research and planning tool that give stakeholders, both literate and illiterates, rich and poor, professional and non-professional, a common platform to make informed decisions on how best to manage their environment and resources sustainably.

3D modelling supports (Giacomo, 2010):

  • Community based disaster and risk management. E.g. Flood monitoring management, climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Collaborative Planning and Research: Using 3D model as a reference for discussion and planning facilitates mental handling of spatial knowledge. E.g. Identification of small water impounding sites, on-farm water management, land use planning, resource access and utilization.
  • Discovery learning: It provides a bird-eye view, which widens participants’ evaluative frame of reference on spatial issues like watersheds, linked ecosystem, resource tenure and access, thus stimulating learning and analysis.
  • Collaborative protected area management
  • Community cohesion, self actualisation and self determination: It gathers people to share information and concerns, and frequently reinforces community self-actualisation through the revival of local knowledge
  • Improving communication: Relief models provide local stakeholders with a powerful medium for easing communication and overcoming language barriers.
  • Supporting traditional knowledge and intellectual property right
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Management of conflicts bound on territories.

Well-produced information generated through a collaborative effort by scientists and members of the community facilitates communication between stakeholders and implementing agencies and has great potential to support sound policy and decision making process.

At a scale of 1: 5000 0r 1:10,000 3D modelling proves to be one of the surest tools in empowering the disadvantaged indigenous people and communities to take control of their own lives.

Making 3D modelling an integral part of development projects ensures community participation and institutional collaboration in achieving a common goal.

MoFA staff & 1:250,000 model map


VSO-MoFA express their sincere gratitude to the National Service Secretariat (NSS) for providing personnel to support the construction of this map.

National Service Personnel with Tamale Metropolitan Director of NSS

2 Responses to Peoples Participatory GIS (3D Modelling of Northern Ghana)

  1. Patrick Harel says:

    Very,,very interesting! Congratulations. For somebody presently branching on to sugar cane exploitation near Savelugu, a 3-dmapping of the Niasa River basin is of prime importance. If such a 3-d map of Niasa river, upstream of Safan, exists, how and under what conditions could one get it?
    Best regards from Mauritius

    • iapad says:

      Please get in touch with me if you are interested in making a Participatory 3D map of Niasa river, upstream of Safan. Giacomo Rambaldi rambaldi [at] For more information on similar exercises, please visit Best regards

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