While we prefer to support small, grassroots organisations, we will occasionally fund larger NGOs, particularly when they have a really solid project that fits our criteria. Plan International – perhaps more so than any other INGO – have successfully integrated technology into a number of their programmes around the world. As early adopters, we think they are ideally positioned to promote the field to others and have decades of experience in technology-driven projects. That’s why we’ve awarded Plan Cameroon a grant of £15,488 to carry out a digital mapping project aimed at improving service delivery and political participation among young people.
Working with approximately 450 young people across three districts (Okola, Ndop and Pitoa), the project has five distinct stages:
- The first step is to gather the young mappers together to decide on the top priority or challenge facing their community. In previous projects, health, education and sanitation have all been identified as key challenges, although it’s entirely possible that the three districts may identify another issue(s).
- With appropriate training from Plan Cameroon and their partners, the mapping groups will go out into their communities to collect qualitative and quantitative data related to the issue identified in the first stage and using GPS units provided by Plan. This information will then be mapped on to base maps of the region prepared during an earlier digital mapping project.
- Once ready, the maps will be shared on- and offline with as many people from the local community as possible. Given the relatively low level of internet access in these communities, offline sharing of the maps will be key to the project’s wider success.
- Local councillors will be trained in how to read and interpret the maps. By involving local councils, Plan hope that they will be able to ensure the long-term survival of this project, especially as local councils in Cameroon now have the responsibility for maintaining digital maps of their areas.
- Using social accountability tools, the youth groups will collect key information on what their communities think of the services being provided by the local council and others. This will help to identify gaps in service provision and issues relating to the quality of those services. The mappers, community leaders and key government partners will also be offered training in good governance, participation and accountability. Young people will be given training in advocacy and how to work with their local service providers to demand better resource allocation and service provision.
If successful, Plan are hopeful that this model of service provision mapping will be adopted by other regions and potentially other countries. Given Plan’s extensive advocacy experience and excellent local network, we’re hopeful that this could become reality over the next few years.