Landscape scenarios visualized by Baka and Aka Pygmies in the Congo Basin

Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni, Endamana, Dominique, Ruiz-Perez, Manuel, and Sayer, Jeffrey (2015) Landscape scenarios visualized by Baka and Aka Pygmies in the Congo Basin. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 22 (4). pp. 279-291.

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We describe our attempts to use visualization techniques to engage the Baka and Aka in the North-West Congo Basin in a debate about their preferred future options. Baka and Aka Pygmies in the Sangha Tri-National landscape live in extreme poverty and score poorly on most development indicators. Their traditional livelihoods have suffered as their forests are taken over by outsiders for farming and logging. Conservation programmes deny them access to their traditional hunting and gathering forest territories. Over ten years we spent time with the Baka and Aka in their camps and joined them on trips into the forests. We used visualization techniques to enable them to portray their present perception of their landscapes and their preferred future scenarios. We compared their representations with those of non-Pygmy communities in the same area. Baka and Aka showed a richer and more nuanced appreciation of the forest landscape in their representations of the present but converged with the non-Pygmies in representations of their preferred future. Agriculture, health, education and employment opportunities emerged as significant elements portrayed in drawings of desired future scenarios. Visualization cannot provide a definitive diagnosis of the very diverse desires of Pygmy communities. Our study suggests that visualization techniques strengthened the ability of Pygmies to communicate their views to other actors in their landscape and to external decision makers. Decisions about programmes to help the Pygmies have often been made by well-intentioned outsiders and the Pygmies themselves had little input. We conclude that visualization empowered Pygmies in discussions and expanded their options for influencing decisions that would impact on their future.

Item ID: 42072
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1745-2627
Keywords: Congo Basin forests; landscape scenarios; visualization; Baka and Aka Pygmies; forest dwelling peoples
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 17:31
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160101 Anthropology of Development @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200299 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 50%
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