Participatory community mapping
Community mapping for effective land-use planning: development of a common community mapping in Cameroon

NGOs advanced the land tenure security of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Cameroon building upon existing laws. With Tenure Facility support, a joint initiative of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), Rainforest Foundation United Kingdom (RFUK), and the consulting firm Rainbow Environment Consult developed, tested and worked with government to secure broad support for a standard methodology for participatory community mapping in Cameroon. The methodology lays important groundwork for explicit recognition of local community land and resource use rights and reduction of escalating land and resource conflicts in Cameroon.

Land-use planning by Cameroon's 360 municipalities

offers an opportunity for recognition of community rights

Training in GPS and other technologies enabled

local communities to map their lands and resources

The standard methodology is inclusive

of women, youth, immigrants and other marginalized groups

The project developed a standard methodology

for participatory community mapping in Cameroon

NGOs tested the standard methodology

in Cameroon's diverse ecosystems and cultures

Developed, tested and achieved broad support for a standard methodology for participatory community mapping across different ecosystems and cultures that lays important groundwork for explicit recognition of community land — in 22 months 

“There are many problems this approach can solve! The problems are there. We are working on this to forestall future problems and to avoid conflict. Thanks to all those who have made this dream come true. How do we carry this pilot forward? We must go all the way! This exercise is the salvation for many conflicts between administrations.” — Chief Tanyi Robinson, National Council for Traditional Chiefs in Cameroon (CNCTC)


To meaningfully advance the land tenure security of local communities and indigenous peoples in Cameroon building upon existing laws


  • Develop a common set of protocols for identifying and mapping community land use and tenure across Cameroon’s diverse social and ecological landscapes
  • Secure broad support and the adoption of common mapping protocols by government agencies responsible for the application of relevant land laws and ordinances, as well as the support of the landholders themselves, and key private sector operators, civil society actors and donors


  • Conduct a technical review of community mapping methodologies in Cameroon
  • Analyze Cameroon’s legislative requirements for community mapping
  • Develop a common mapping protocol and secure wide adoption
  • Package and disseminate a toolkit to support nationwide application


  • The project developed a standard methodology for participatory community mapping in Cameroon and tested it in 25 communities and five regions of the country.
  • The project’s Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) endorsed the common methodology for participatory mapping and are committed to making it the standard in Cameroon.
  • Rainbow is producing a common methodology toolkit.
“We were isolated in our work. But, through the pilot, we were able to work with all the actors doing community mapping in Cameroon. As a result, the next maps we produce will be produced in a way that the government and the national institute of cartography agree it should be done. This really gives a lot of weight to the maps. The government used to say communities can’t produce maps. Now we have agreement on how to do community mapping and we have enhanced communities’ ability to use maps to protect their rights. We have overcome the challenge.” — Georges Thierry Handja, 
Rainforest Foundation


  • Laid important new groundwork for enabling Indigenous Peoples and local communities to gain recognition of their claims to lands and resources
  • Set the stage for reducing growing conflict driven by investment in agricultural, forestry and mining
  • Used the mapping protocol development and testing to enhance coordination among government ministries with responsibility for land tenure, resources and development planning and recognition of participatory community mapping as an essential tool for reducing conflict over land and resources and for supporting tenure-sensitive land-use planning and investment
  • Strengthened the existing community of practice among civil society organizations using mapping as a tool for furthering the land and resource rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities
  • Developed a tool with broad support that could play a crucial role in securing community rights over more than 5 million hectares, if applied across the country by government and national development projects
“The time for some conflicts will not wait! How do we use this tool to help communities solve conflicts and anticipate conflicts that may arise? We need to get to field administration, local authorities, traditional chiefs, mayors and divisional officers. They need to be involved now!” — Louis Ngono Ebana, Central African Network of Parliamentarians


From: 01 December 2015
To: 30 September 2017



A joint initiative of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and Rainforest Foundation United Kingdom (RFUK), administered by Rainbow Environment Consult Sarl (a private consulting firm)


Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and their organizations

Government ministries with responsibility for mapping, land tenure, natural resources, territorial planning and economic development

Traditional chiefs

Local councils

Companies and investors

Managers of protected areas


Tested in communities across

Cameroon's diverse cultures and ecosystems

Standard methodology for

participatory mapping gains broad support

Lessons Learned

  • Strategic facilitation by the Tenure Facility Focal Point is essential to securing government support and ownership.
  • Making space for informal engagement with government and other influential stakeholders furthers understanding of how land rights reform relates to their own interests, and is essential to moving forward, achieving consensus, securing adoption and successful implementation of new tools.
  • Training and developing the capacity of a wide range of actors to use community mapping tools will foster up-scaling of pilot achievements.
  • It takes time for individuals and organizations to learn to undertake new activities and work in new ways.
  • With training, some Indigenous Peoples and local communities can implement the new standard methodology directly without having to rely on NGO interlocutors.
  • The process of developing a standard methodology can change the relationships among civil society organizations working in a country and create and strengthen a community of practice. It can also build collaborative relationships among civil society, government and private sector.