LTP Toolkit: Community Resource Documentation

Participatory mapping is an approach used to document the land resources of rural communities in Myanmar. This toolkit describes procedures and tools that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Myanmar Land Tenure Project (LTP) team developed and tested in 11 village tracts across the country. The project conducted pilot site activities to demonstrate how articles of the National Land Use Policy (NLUP) could be implemented on the ground.

LTP created this toolkit for an audience of local groups: civil society organizations (CSOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), and private companies. The results of this exercise are of value to the communities involved, local authorities at the township and village tract administrative levels, and, potentially, regional authorities.

This toolkit presents the steps required to implement a community resource documentation approach. These include community profile interviews, participatory mapping, and engagement activities. The main output of this approach is a collection of the information assembled on community land resources (maps and a village folio) made accessible to relevant stakeholders. This documentation will increase transparency between stakeholders and may provide greater tenure security for communities.

The community resource documentation process provides communities with an opportunity to engage with local authorities and contribute their voices to the land rights conversation. At the completion of activities, communities receive a map of their boundaries and land uses as well as a village folio documenting the process. Communities can use the map and folio as tools for planning, management, and engagement.

Local organizations take on the role of facilitator throughout the community resource documentation process. Staff from these organizations meet frequently with local authorities and community members in the village tract to learn about land uses and resource constraints. Local organizations work hand-in-hand with communities to map their village boundaries and their resource uses, and then present that information to local authorities for discussion and acceptance.

This toolkit is part of USAID’s Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST) approach, which is USAID’s broad array of technology-related tenure strengthening tools. This toolkit does not prescribe specific technologies to undertake this process. An ever-expanding array of technology options can be used to document community resources. The toolkit provides some background on the options, but LTP encourages readers to find the best tools for their needs. While LTP used mobile technology and geographic information systems (GIS) to gather and map data on village boundaries and land uses, less-technology-centric options are possible to gather the same information. Local organizations may not have experience in or be comfortable with mapping techniques, and this toolkit is not intended as a substitute for GIS training. However, LTP pilots demonstrated that local organizations without prior mapping experience can be supported through training and technical assistance to create community maps. LTP recommends that local organizations reach out to mapping resource organizations for assistance or training (i.e., the Myanmar Information Management Unit or OneMap Myanmar).

LTP hopes that this toolkit is viewed as a step toward a more standardized approach to participatory mapping that will allow the comparison of outputs from across the country, irrespective of who conducted the work. As such, the toolkit describes the spatial data produced to help inform the development of modern land administration systems. LTP recognizes that participatory mapping in Myanmar will grow and evolve. The project is also aware that Myanmar is a very diverse country and most pilot locations were in primarily Bamar areas; the toolkit should be adapted for use in parallel administrative areas. This toolkit documents LTP’s efforts to date, and it is the project team’s hope that organizations will build upon and update it as methods are further tested and refined.