Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Harmony O'Rourke

Reader 2

Susan Phillips

Reader 3

Marie-Denise Shelton


In this thesis I reflect upon a digital mapping project I did in the rural agricultural villages of Bangoua and Batoufam in the Grassfields region of Cameroon. This thesis considers digital mapping as a possible strategy for addressing a current dichotomy in these villages. On the one hand community members express concern over observed shifts in local weather patterns, which they attribute to climate change, and on the other hand community members express desperation for “development.” Of over 130 mapped points, I use this thesis to look at three case studies of community centered development initiatives that address both development and sustainability. In the Water is Life well-building training program, locals are empowered to build water wells, reducing village dependency on foreign teams of experts, which in turn reduces the environmental impact of displacement of these foreign teams and imported materials, and also generally increases the longevity of the water infrastructure by ensuring that local people are able to maintain and repair the system. In the case study of the reforestation project at College Evangélique de Bangoua, reforestation is used as a method for teaching adolescents about the importance of protecting the environment, as well as commerce skills, since the school director has plans to let the students sell the fruits from the trees once they have grown big enough and keep the profits. In the solar panel water system in Batoufam, the local water council challenged the dominant development model for water infrastructure (single-point, manual pump) and designed an extensive network of 10 faucets throughout the village connected to a solar powered electrically pumped well and reservoir. These three examples give hope to the possibility of addressing both climate change and development needs with the same initiatives; however, this process also illuminated the shortcomings of grassroots development. This project uses the mapping process to complicate dominant narratives about top-down and grassroots development. Ultimately, I will propose that this method of digital mapping itself carries potential for addressing the sometimes-polarized desires for sustainability and development.