There is an urgent need to create mechanisms to empower widows in Yavatmal and Vidarbha, and give them the support they need to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. However, such initiatives are rare. One of the few such projects for the welfare of the helpless women is run by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and its sister organization Sampada Trust.
WOTR has long recognized the necessity of stakeholder participation to successful rural development. CoDriVE-Visual Integrator (CoDriVE-VI) has the potential to greatly enhance participation while also closing a historically problematic communication gap between land users and land policy-makers.
There is no doubt that Geographic Information Systems have transformed the way governments and research institutions interpret and communicate spatial information. But when remotely-gathered data alone informs environmental policymaking, where are the voices of the land users themselves?
CoDriVE-VI, is a planning tool that villagers can use to communicate indigenous spatial knowledge in a digital form that researchers and policymakers commonly recognize.
The hope is that through collective knowledge-sharing at the local level, and with the help of GIS, village communities can actively participate in their own development plans while effectively voicing their concerns to relevant government ministries and research institutions.
What is CoDriVE-VI and how does it work?
CoDriVE-VI involves the construction of a scaled relief model of the community domain, onto which village communities can demarcate relevant spatial features pertaining to development needs, such as watershed management, resource conservation, sustainable agriculture, or biodiversity.
Participants superimpose layers of cardboard that have been traced and cut from enlarged topographic maps. The model is then primed for painting using thin paper and acrylic medium.
Once dried, the relevant boundaries and landscape features are marked on the model using pins and string. Strings represent line features, such as hydrology or village boundaries. Pins are used for point features, such as homes, telephone poles or temples. Colored paint is used for large features of areal extent, such as a protected forest, cultivated area, or wasteland.
The model itself stays with the community for future use. Additionally, through digital imagery, the model can be transposed into GIS and geo-referenced for scaling up local development priorities and concerns.