Mapping Meaning: Critical Cartographies for Participatory Water Management in Taita Hills, Kenya

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Participation of local people is often neglected in natural resource management, which leads to failure to understand the social aspects and historical construction of environmental problems. Participatory mapping can enhance the communication of local spatial knowledge for management processes and challenge the official maps and other spatial representations produced by state authorities and scientists. In this study, we analyze what kind of social meanings can be revealed through a multimethod participatory mapping process focusing on water resources in Taita Hills, Kenya. The participatory mapping clearly complicates the simplified image of the physical science mappings, typically depicting natural water supply, by addressing the impacts of contamination, inadequate infrastructure, poverty, distance to the sources, and restrictions in their uses on people's access to water. Moreover, this shared exercise is able to trigger discussion on issues that cannot always be localized but still contribute to place making. Local historical accounts reveal the social and political drivers of the current water-related problems, making explicit the political ecology dynamics in the area.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)383-395
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5203 Global Development Studies
  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • 519 Social and economic geography

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