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CEDRO Grassroots Mapping Curriculum

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In this project, we propose working with approximately 12 students, ages 8-12, in a small school operated by Bruce Peru, an NGO based in Lima. The school is located in a settlement outside Lima, called Nuevo Invasion, and is in a neighborhood called "Manzana A" comprised of about 300 people.


There are currently no maps of the community. Maps are the foundation of quantitative assessment of needs in a community, and keeping up to date maps is crucial to nonprofit groups working with the Nuevo Invasion community.

Twice a week, four volunteers from Bruce Peru arrive at the Manzana A school in Nuevo Invasion, at 8AM. Two meet the teacher, who lives near the school building, and help run the class. The other two spend the next four hours going door-to-door to enroll more students in the school. These two volunteers ask families they know already if there are any children new to the community who need schooling, and they check in with families whose children have stopped attending, to find out why.

If a method for creating up to date maps of the community is introduced it will aid in finding families and children, which is currently quite difficult when their address has been given only as 'in Manzana H', and can help to track enrollment over time. Some students come from neighboring blocks, and so volunteers must cover an area inhabited by over a thousand people. A map will aid in planning where to establish new schools, and to help NGO's keep good records on the growth and development of the community.

These are just a few of the many uses good mapping can provide to aid organizations, not to mention the utility they offer as planning aids to members of the community. While such mapping has been too expensive for smaller NGOs, UNHABITAT, the World Bank, and international aid organizations have also expressed a dire need for accurate maps of communities such as these:

“Many local governments do not have mechanisms to monitor urban growth in a systematic manner, even less to monitor informal urban growth. According to UNHABITAT 80 cities out of 120 recognize that they do not possess monitoring systems to track changes in the spatial dimension of the city (Urban Indicators Programme, 2005). “Slums are often the invisible part of the city; they are zones of silence in terms of public knowledge, opinion and discussion about urban poverty (UNHABITAT, Slums of the World, 2003)."


We propose working with the students in Manzana A to produce several maps of the community. We hope that the process of mapping will engender a discussion about history of their settlement. This will be an important data set for aid organizations such as Bruce Peru and CEDRO (which works there with older students), but will also be an opportunity for the community to 'look at themselves' in terms of population, resources (water, electricity and sanitation), urban planning, and social issues like crime and political leadership.

Work plan

After first volunteering for two days to become familiar with the students, we will work with them to draw an initial map of the settlement using a ribbon for measurement. First, students will draw individual maps, then we will combine them into one large map incorporating details from each student. These maps will not be spatially accurate, but will familiarize students with mapping and can be rectified later if needed.

As their first assignment, students will be asked to conduct surveys of the families in their neighborhood, and as an educational exercise, describe the demographics of the community in terms of age, gender, family units, etc. If applicable they will find names for paths, streets, and public spaces; if these are absent they can propose names for these places.

Next we will use weather balloons and a cheap camera to take pictures of the settlement from above. Using a technique known as 'map rectification', we will assemble these images into a geographic grid with longitude and latitude lines, and print them out to bring to the school. We will then work with the older students to transfer the information from the earlier drawn maps onto the satellite images using tracing paper. The resulting map can be scanned back in for use by aid organizations, but will also be displayed in a public place in Manzana A.

Next we will ask students to 'interview' their parents and/or family members about the history of the settlement. Each student will be asked to present what they find, and we will attempt to produce maps of the settlement 6 months ago, 1 year ago, and back as far as we can go. If we can involve parents directly in this process we will.

Finally, students will be asked to break into groups of 2-3 and imagine what the community might look like in 5 years. They will each present a poster on an area of the settlement including a drawing and a labelled map. We will finish with an exhibition of the students' work and a party, inviting everyone in the community to attend.

After the workshop is over, we will meet with parents and community leaders (most recently a man named Martin) and propose submitting copies of the maps to the Bureau of _______ as well as to UNHABITAT, the World Bank, local newspapers, and a variety of other organizations which have expressed interest in this project.

In similar projects in Kibera and Calcutta, maps such as these have protected settlements from bulldozing and have been accepted as part of land-ownership legitimization paperwork, but we will have to negotiate this with the community in accordance with their wishes and local regulations. These are discussions which are best had in person.


Typically Bruce Peru holds class 2-3 times per week, but this is due to availability of volunteers; we can work every day. We will leave a day or two 'flex time' per week in case things go slowly.

Jan 6 - Review agenda with Manzana A teachers and volunteers

Jan 7-9 - Meet students and help teach class

Jan 11 - Introduce first project: draw individual maps of the community, measure it

Jan 12-13 - Balloon flights (wind dependent)

Jan 14 - Rectify the map (possibly with CEDRO kids)

Jan 15-16 - Transfer maps onto trace paper over rectified map

Jan 17 - Introduce neighborhood history assignment (where kids interview family members)

Jan 19-20 - Draw historical maps on trace paper

Jan 21-22 - Introduce 'future of Nuevo Invasion' project, break into groups of 2-3

Jan 23-24 - Prepare for exhibition of work in public area of Manzana A

Jan 25-30 - Exhibition opens, invite members of Bruce Peru, CEDRO, and others to visit and discuss the information collected, distribute copies of maps, and organize continued mapping efforts to keep maps up to date.

Additional notes

Exactly what people?

Make maps with: The 11 students in the CEDRO school in Juan Pablo II, Lima

Who will benefit?

The ~300 other members of Manzana A; the childrens' families.

What will you do?

We will draw detailed maps of each home, who lives in them, how long they've lived there, what they do (if applicable). Of paths, roads, bathrooms, water, stores.

Send these maps to municipal offices & NGOs.

How will they benefit

The maps will show the students and their families how many people are in the community, how long they've been there, what are the communal resources available. They will ...

Manzanita "A" will know what families in the community they serve and can use the map to plan new schools.

Manzanita "A", CEDRO, will see where the community is growing or changing. They will be able to adjust their efforts in response to this new information.

Exactly when

Leave Jan 5th. Work every day 8am-12pm (considered safe hours) mon-fri. Schools meet every other day. We can alternate between Manzana A and a neighboring school ~1/2 km away and work every day.

Exactly where



Have the plan to throw out the window - because people with a plan are more likely to succeed even if the plan doesn't

No 'graduate students'

No use of 'stakeholders' or other similar language

Identify a need and meet it