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Bale and West Arsi, Ethiopia

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 last updated on:
September 23, 2012

See the Process










Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation in Ethiopia



1:12,500 scale (2 x vertical exaggeration) Participatory 3D Model (P3DM) of the districts of Dinsho, Sinana, Goba, Agarfa and Adaba , Bale and West Arsi, Oromia, Ethiopia. (January 10 - February 15 2009).

Note: The model measuring 3.6 x 2.8 m (1575 km2 on the ground) has been the 1st Participatory 3D Model constructed in Ethiopia.

The exercise has been done in an area where MELCA has been active for a long time with the objective to to plan out the sustainable management of the area, revive local bio-cultural diversity and support local environmental education.

A total of 72 representatives from 24 Kebele (3 from each Kebele) from the districts of Dinsho, Sinana, Goba, Agarfa and Adaba attended the exercise. These included traditional leaders, elders, farmers, men and women, and youth.


Under the guidance of MELCA coordinator, Mr. Million Belay, students from the Dinsho Elementary and High Schools assembled the blank models (3 units 1.2 m x 2.8 m each).  Knowledge holders populated the model with their memories and reconstructed the present landscape.

Trainees included representatives from the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the Bale Mountain National Park and MELCA staff.

View P3DM Where ? in a larger map

Recommended reading:

Belay M. 2009. Summary Activity Report: Training on Participatory 3 Dimensional Modelling In Dinsho, Bale, Ethiopia; January - February 2009

Mersha Yilma. 2011. Proceedings from International Conference on Participatory Mapping for Sustainable Life, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Report on Trainings in Participatory 3-Dimensional Modelling at Dinsho in Bale, Holeta in Suba-Sebeta and Masha in Sheka, Ethiopia.


Method/tools: P3DM and GIS


Details on the exercise:


Highest elevation on model: 4,120 m a.s.l.


Lowest elevation on model: 2,380 m a.s.l.


Contour interval: 20 m


Tips for practitioners

Process documentation
[ PDF: 0.4 MB | 8 pages ].
To read, you need Adobe Acrobat.

Image courtesy of Million Belay © / 2009 MELCA

Million Belay, Executive Director from MELCA addressing the participants
Image courtesy of Million Belay © / 2009 MELCA

Image courtesy of Million Belay © / 2009 MELCA

Elders entering data on the model
Image courtesy of Million Belay © / 2009 MELCA

Facilitator introducing the participants to the use of the map legend
Image courtesy of Million Belay © / 2009 MELCA

P.S. This exercise is a follow-up to the regional P3DM training organised by CTA and ERMIS-Africa in Nessuit, Kenya in 2006. A number of East African delegates from NGOs and CBOs were trained in organising and conducting P3DM exercises. Mr. Million Belay attended the training and put acquired skills into practice in replicating the process in Bale.

MELCA Mahiber - Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action - was founded in 2004, to work for the conservation of ecosystem and for the revival and enhancement of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and to protect the rights of communities in Ethiopia through research, advocacy, endogenous development and intergenerational learning.

The word ‘melca’ means ford both in Amharic and Oromo language – two of the widely spoken languages of Ethiopia. It means a crossing point on a river, which is symbolically used to indicate the need to take people away from their misconception about local people and culture to an understanding and appreciation of traditional ecological knowledge. A river also signifies linkage with a source. If the source dries, the river also dries. MELCA emphasizes that culture is the source of identity and wisdom, and that the destruction or degradation of culture will result lose of a vast amount of knowledge and identity.

MELCA currently works with local communities, elders, schools and youth in the Sheka Forest region in southeast Ethiopia, the Bale Mountains National Park, and Menagesha Suba forest near to Addis Ababa. MELCA is also a regional node for the African Biodiversity Network.

Contact: Mr. Million Belay
MELCA Mahiber
P.O. Box 1519 Code 1250; Addis Ababa - Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 5507172 / 5544554
Fax: +251 11 5544556
Email: melca@ethionet.et
Web: www.melca-ethiopia.org

The exercise has been made possible by the coordinated effort made by MELCA Mahiber, Frankfurt Zoological Society, SOS Sahel and Farm Africa.

More Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation case studies around the globe
Mau Forest (Kenya) Ikobey (Gabon) Mukogodo (Kenya) Sengwer (Kenya) Bale (Ethiopia) Wechecha (Ethiopia) Lucchio (Italy) Valleriana (Italy) Montale (Italy)


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