Jon Schafer, a student of Geographic Information Systems at Portland State University, visited Ghana's Upper West Region to support our Vibrant Village team there to develop maps of boreholes and water access and distribution in the isolated area. Read his first blog entry here.
August 2, 2013
The mapping project is really starting to take form, and it’s rewarding to see such noticeable progression with the map after each intense day of fieldwork. To create a detailed and informative living map depicting water access and borehole distribution in the region requires an extensive amount of data collection. So far, we have finished mapping the precise locations of more than 100 boreholes, local schools (kindergarten, primary and junior high), as well as identifying the most deprived and isolated sections far from borehole access within each of the 32 communities comprising the Fielmuo region.
Before mapping an underserved area we must first meet with the village chief, who explains to us which sections of the community have the most difficulty accessing water. He appoints someone from the village to lead me around the perimeter of these isolated areas, which I then map with my Trimble GPS unit. The total size, resident population, and degree of isolation in an area can vary greatly from one village to the next. It is always exciting to interact with the residents of the local villages while collecting this location data, and often turns humorous attempting to explain (through the use of my incredibly limited Dagaare language skills) why I am randomly wandering around the perimeter of their homes carrying a strange looking electronic device. This has definitely been the most demanding portion of the project, but one of the most rewarding and eye opening; realistically, the trouble it took for me to locate, travel to, and map the locations is nothing compared to the challenges faced daily by the individuals living within these isolated areas.
The Chief of Gaaper presented me with a traditional smock for mapping his community.
I often saw these incredible "cactus trees" while mapping the perimeter of a village.
While mapping a village, I often encountered traditional-style homes like this one.
A local Ghanaian villager wears a Portland Trailblazers hat — it truly is a small world after all.