Discussion Paper

Roads to Participatory Planning: Integrating Cognitive Mapping and GIS for Transport Prioritization in Rural Lesotho

Aug 27, 2009 | Shalini Vajjhala, Wendy M. Walker


It is increasingly understood that transport infrastructure and services are critical elements to achieving poverty reduction, gender equality, and sustainable development, but relevant methods tosystematically characterize and address differences in mobility and access are lagging. This paper presents a series of maps based on an integrated pilot application of geographical information systems (GIS) and participatory sketch mapping to elicit and evaluate differential mobility and access patterns of villagers in the highlands of rural Lesotho. Fieldwork was carried out in the Senqu and Senqunyane Valleys in southern Lesotho—among the most isolated areas in the country—to link local-level information and perspectives on transport and other services to the enhanced GIS at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. The resulting cognitive maps and focus group interviews reveal significant gender differences in mobility and access with implications for healthcare, education, and transport planning; they also provide a basis for cross-sectoral participatory decisionmaking through the integrated GIS.