Power Mapping

  • Objective: To gain a general understanding of an area (its resources, power centers, as well as excluded classes/groups of people). In the context of Nepal, the area was defined as the Village Development Committee, while in Uganda the team focused on the Parish level.
  • Materials/Preparation: In Tanzania and Uganda, the team found a large space for the mapping, sticks to draw into the earth for the map, idea cards, markers, stones and other materials to hold idea cards in place. In Nepal, a large map of the area, paper to enlarge the map, stickers of various colors and shapes, pencils, erasers. For this exercise, it is important to select an available time and neutral location for all local leaders to attend the meeting and ensure representation of each village or cluster within the area.
  • Participants: Local level leaders (both formal and informal) that represent the area to be mapped


Following introductions, the participants work together to draw a large map of the area on the ground, marking major infrastructure and geographical features (rivers, etc).
Within the maps, participants are then asked to stand in their village within the map. On idea cards, the facilitator then marks the location, name, size (in households) of each village.

The facilitator then asks participants to work with members of their own village to list out all of the community level resources (people, and other shared resources) within each village and write them onto idea cards. The research team members each work with different groups to list out the number of resources and probe for further natural, physical and human resources within each village. This may include infrastructure, markets, natural resources, important figures, NGO presence, etc.

Once completed, the facilitator reviews the resources and characteristics of each village, asking everyone for confirmation or clarifications, as needed. At this time, participants may identify further resources they had not considered, make corrections to the summary and validate one another’s information.

As a last step, the facilitator then poses a question to the group: based on all of this information, which village is the poorest or most vulnerable?

After returning from the community, researchers transfer the information and resources discussed onto paper for records and analysis. Based on this mapping, the research team uses markers to map all community resources by village, and analyze on their own which villages seemed to be power centers and which were excluded from political and development processes.

These maps and analyses serve as the basis of deciding which villages to visit, and also key informants for their situational analyses.



In Nepal, teams already had a large map of the Village Development Committee (VDC), which was used as the basis of discussion rather than having the group draw out the parish for the exercise.
With the map, the facilitator asked participants to map the wards, villages and blocks within the map, as well as key infrastructure and settlement patterns within each ward, village and block (number of households, majority ethnicities or other groups and their population, and major occupations) within their community.

The facilitator then probed about development activities that have taken place within the VDC:

  • What development activities have taken place?
  • Who led these activities?
  • Where did the resources come from and how were they implemented?
  • The political leadership of the area:
    • Who has been in leadership over the past 20 or 30 years?
    • From which wards or villages has the leadership come? And for how long?
    • Has anyone from the VDC been elected to the District Development Committee (DDC) or parliament?
    • Is there anyone from the VDC in political positions at the district, regional or national levels? (note their names, gender, party, etc.)
  • Which ethnic group has been particularly powerful and influential? And which group has had little power or is behind in terms of development? Where do each group live?



  • B Bode (2010). Regional Capacity-Building Initiative – Participatory Methodologies Part I. CARE International – East / Central Africa Regional Management Unit.
  • B Bode (2009). The Causes and Conditions of Poverty in Acholiland, Northern Uganda. CARE International – Uganda.
  • S Sharma (2009). Participatory Methods, Processes and Analyses: A handbook for identification of underlying causes of poverty and formulation of strategies. CARE Nepal.
  • B Bode (2007). Power Analysis in the Context of Rights-Based Programming. CARE Bangladesh. Available at Module 3 of the Women’s Empowerment Strategic Impact Inquiry Methodological Compendium.