Activity Mapping - Advantages and Limitations

  • In many developing countries, information is scarce, many organizations collect data and information individually. Few agencies have a clear picture of an overall nationwide or regional situation, or what the neighboring organizations are implementing.
  • While many NGOs and sub-national government departments work in smaller administrative sub units, the national government is often working parallel to development organizations. The mapping of activities gives a clear picture of gaps and overlaps of activities.
  • Visualizing all activities by mapping and correlation or arithmetic combination leads to a clearer understanding of demands, linkages to other problems and targeting the right areas.
  • Timely disclosure of the results from the mapping exercise supports a platform dialogue and planning of joint or complementing activities. A web mapping tool can be suitable to quickly publish the results of the activity coverage and help to maintain the confidence of all organizations providing information.
  • This mapping tool can be used to quickly measure the progress of service coverage and prioritizing target areas, if the results are compared to a previous baseline survey using the same methodology.
  • There has to be a clear definition on which problems and issues are mapped, and on the level of administrative boundaries being used to identify activities. It is important, that all stakeholders of this exercise can agree on a set of terms and definitions.
  • It is difficult to identify all stakeholders, organizations and development workers within a limited period of time. Therefore, it is important to inform the major stakeholders at an early time in order to ensure a rather comprehensive picture of the exercise.
  • Not all staff of all organizations has a sound knowledge of geographic units. A unique naming is not given on all planning levels and for all administrative units. This can have an influence on the result.
  • Since projects life spans are often scheduled for a certain time frame, it is impossible to use the result of such a mapping exercise for a long period of time. Therefore this mapping can be an exercise initiating a dialogue, by doing a snapshot of current ongoing activities.
  • A heterogeneous group of organisations has different definitions of services and activities provided. The quality of service coverage can only be defined if certain minimum standards for providing service can be agreed upon. Only when an ongoing dialogue between development organisations has established quality standards, an assessment of quality can be achieved.