Collective mapping as a methodology for participatory, disaster-responsive urban planning: lessons from Chile

Published in Multidisciplinary Perspectives about Disasters (Vol.3), 2021

Collective mapping (CM) emerged in the Global South as a tool to embed local perspectives into territorial governance, particularly addressing issues of land use and indigenous land rights. In the last decade, several disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects have adopted CM methodologies, recognising the importance of community participation in this area. So far, however, such projects remain isolated instances, scarcely integrated into formal decision-making mechanisms. Drawing on our research experience in Chile, this contribution argues for the usefulness of CM as a participatory methodology for the study of disaster risk in support of disaster-responsive urban planning. Since existing territorial planning mechanisms tend to overlook the social roots of disasters, they often result in increased risks for vulnerable, low income communities. CM can mitigate these risks by complementing technical information about natural hazards with local knowledge, legitimising local claims and fostering community-driven processes of regeneration of the built environment. Thus, it can play an important role in supporting innovative forms of local engagement and more inclusive spatial decision-making that will strengthen urban resilience within a holistic and democratic DRR framework.