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Abt Refines Approach to Participatory Mapping for Land Governance in Indonesia


  • A lack of mapped boundaries hampers investment in rural Indonesia
  • Abt Global is resolving boundary disputes through a 21-step, community-driven process
  • Hundreds of villages have embraced the process, paving the way for better public services
The Challenge

With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has always struggled to map its plentiful resources and boundaries. Few of the country’s 65,000 villages have legally demarcated boundaries. That hampers the flow of investment and public funding to rural areas that could help alleviate their poverty.

The Approach

Abt has helped the Government of Indonesia and the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Compact with Indonesia develop official boundaries and maps. We use a combination of technology, legal navigation, and intra-village collaboration. The most recent project, the Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia’s Participatory Mapping and Planning (PMaP) 6 project, empowers community members to create accurate spatial and land-use data. The data are critical to encourage investment in renewable energy, improve public-service delivery, and mitigate conflict stemming from boundary disputes.

PMaP 6 works in more than 100 villages in eight districts to guide community-elected Village Participation Team members, who are often women and other marginalized citizens. They participate in a 21-step methodology called Village Boundary Setting/Resource Mapping. Communities elect members for their leadership skills and work on tasks such as mapping natural resources and researching village histories.

The Results

Abt put this approach into action in hundreds of villages through the PMaP projects. We generated inclusive mapping in Jambi, Sulawesi Barat, Nusa Tenggara Barat, and Sumatera Barat provinces to encourage the reliable delivery of services, such as electricity, and to simplify sustainable land-use planning. Abt’s work has given communities a venue to resolve conflicts and agree on boundaries that have been unclear for hundreds of years. Some villages, such as Tanak Beak, have enthusiastically participated and decided to carry forward the project, extending participatory mapping for their hamlets and demonstrating PMaP’s potential long-term benefits.

Learn More:

The Participatory Mapping and Planning (PMaP-1) Project