What The Red Dots Are For, Or Why We Map (Part 1: Iraq)

Helena Puig Larrauri | Ushahidi | February 22, 2013

[Dispute Monitor is Deployment of the Week. This is a guest post by Helena Puig Larrauri. Helena is a peacebuilding practitioner, focusing on the use of technology to promote peace and prevent conflict. The original post is on Let them Talk.]

Mercy Corps has recently embarked on a strategy to introduce mapping tools to its conflict management and protection programs around the globe – from Iraq to Kenya to Nepal. Rather than develop a one-size-fits-all approach, Mercy Corps is looking to design context-specific mapping components that match the programming needs of different conflict management and protection projects. I’ve been involved in designing the systems for the first two projects to adopt mapping: the Iraq Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation program and the Libya Protection Program. The Iraq system will use Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS to collect data on mediated disputes and perceptions of conflict; the Libya system will use a combination of Google products to collect data on demographics, socio-economic conditions and conflict indicators at the IDP sites where Mercy Corps works.

These tools and methodology were chosen to match the analysis and programming needs of the Mercy Corps teams and their partners. It’s been a very interesting design process, which has made me reflect on why (and how) we map. This is the first of a two-part post exploring some questions we can ask when choosing to map in support of peacebuilding and protection outcomes.

Understand the user: the Iraqi Centre for Negotiation and Conflict Management

Mercy Corps Iraq is developing a dispute resolution tracking and early warning system for its Iraq Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (ICRR) program. The main purpose of ICRR is to support the Iraqi Centre for Negotiation and Conflict Management (CNCM), a network of Iraqi mediators who intervene in local disputes to prevent them from escalating. The network has been working since 2005, has a very strong track-record, and enjoys widespread support. The Mercy Corps team has worked with CNCM since its inception, and has an excellent understanding of how network members go about their work. With this in mind, the team set about providing CNCM with a mapping tool tailored to the mediators’ needs for information...