During community mapping a map is drawn of selected physical features on a flat surface. 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.
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 facilities, the community 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. 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.
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.