Need Finding


Participatory mapping is a map-making process that aims to identify how different groups of stakeholders perceive the relationship between places and people in a specific context and over time.

Format Method, WorkshopTimeframe < 1hGroup Size AllFacilitation Level MediumRequired Materials Paper or a base map with key features or aerial photographs, A camera, Whiteboard, Clear agenda on topic for discussion


  • The facilitators should clearly identify and communicate to the participants the objectives of the exercise and divide the participants into working groups. Those groups can be divided into demographic categories (i.e. age, gender, working in the focus area, length of time living, etc.), so the maps may be different depending on the daily experiences of the participants.
  • Participants are then asked to draw the map (on paper, an existing map of the area with key features such as roads, rivers and settlements or aerial photographs); each working group is asked to come up with one preliminary map. In this step, all the participants should be encouraged by the facilitators to get actively engaged in the process.
  • Once the working groups are finished with their mapping, the maps should be copied, or photos of them should be taken, and the participants are invited to have a joint discussion with all the working groups, where each group present their result. 


This method allows to get insights from a diverse set of stakeholders.


1) Participatory mapping should be combined with other methods, such as mental mapping, brainstorming, problem tree analysis, etc., to support the analysis; 2) This tool is not useful for minor decisions; 3) Use questions to motivate the participants to include more information; 4) This tool is time-consuming, cost-effective and requires significant planning from the facilitators; 5) Create dissonance and lead to conflicts between the involved stakeholders; 6) The larger the number of topics to be included, the more complex the maps will be. For this reason, it might be better to make several maps for each topic.
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