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Community Mapping & Mobilization

In collaboration with colleagues from various South African universities and the Methodist/LeBonheur Health System in Memphis, TN, the Interfaith Health Program has played in key role in developing a model for mapping a broad array of health assets that reside in local communities.  The term “mapping” has been employed to refer to various kinds of activities ranging from the application of GIS technologies to employing conceptual or mental maps.  For IHP, mapping is a method of community engagement that elicits from local communities the kinds of institutional assets, networks, relationships, and adaptive strategies that communities employ to address pressing health challenges.  Our approach to mapping provides us with quantitative data on organizations, their scope of services, the number of people they serve, and the geographic location.  It also provides us qualitative data on a community’s cultural history, the reasons why particular organizations are valued and trusted, and community norms and priorities.

IHP’s approach to health asset mapping and mobilization employs a specific model of community engagement entitled, Participant Inquiry into Religious Health Assets, Networks, and Agency (PIRHANA).  PIRHANA was developed by Steve deGruchy (University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal in South Africa) and colleagues and has been modified by IHP and others for various contexts.  The model draws on proven approaches to community based participatory research (CBPR) and practice, particularly on the work of  Robert Chambers  (Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom) and John McKnight (Asset-Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University, Chicago).   

IHP’s community health assets mapping approach was funded by the World Health Organization to identify previously-unknown health assets in communities in Lesotho and Zambia.  The approach has been employed by IHP colleagues in the African Religious Health Assets Programme (ARHAP) in a number of contexts in sub-Saharan African and it has become an important tool for community engagement and collaboration in the Methodist/LeBonheur Health System in Memphis, TN.

Most recently, IHP has employed community mapping and mobilization in a project sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in a group of informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.  This work has been named by PEPFAR as a best practice in community engagement.  In Kenya, we have employed an innovative parallel mapping approach that combines a methodology based on PIRHANA with GIS mapping of organizations in order to create interactive, internet-based maps of community health assets in the informal settlements of Mukuru kwa Njenga, kwa Reuben, and Lunga Lunga.  IHP was invited to share information on community health assets mapping and its work in Kenya at the World Bank, the White House of Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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