The exercise – organised by MELCA-Ethiopia, a national NGO and supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), was a response to a call by the community for assistance in rehabilitating its environment which suffered heavy deforestation and soil degradation over the past decades. After several month of preparation, the exercise took place in the village of Telecho, Ethiopia on 8-18 December 2010.
Close to 140 people worked in shifts on the model which covers – at a 1:10,000-scale - a total area of 672 sq km. Approximately 110 elders representing 28 kebeles contributed to the elaboration of the map legend and to depicting of their mental maps onto the model.
Participating villagers reported that working on the model elicited powerful memories of a past landscape characterised by lush forests and permanent river courses, and made them realise how much the conversion of the natural habitat had impacted (negatively) on their life. Participants stated that through a self-reflection process they realised that their non-sustainable handling of the resources base had led to impoverishment of soils and decrease in crop yield, and that the present situation was threatening their livelihoods and mere subsistence. They stated that the process of model building created learning environment and gave them a sense of purpose. “The P3DM process enables the community to look at itself using the model as a mirror” wrote a villager on a card featuring on the “Democracy Walls”.