Sketch mapping

mental sketch mapping, mental mapping

Sketch mapping is useful for creating a visual representation ('map') of a geographically based or defined issue drawn from the interpretation of a group or different groups of stakeholders.

It can be a particularly effective option for visualising stakeholders' perceptions of issues that are:

  • Social - identifying ownership of different areas and natural resources
  • Physical - to identify areas affected by degradation, improvement, or natural resource availability

Sketch mapping allows evaluators to collect spatial data by having stakeholders and community members draw maps of communities, project areas, or relevant geographic features, providing insights into the physical context and spatial dynamics. By involving a range of interested parties, sketch mapping facilitates their active participation, contributing knowledge, and highlighting important locations, resources, challenges, or opportunities.

Sketch maps can be analysed to identify patterns, trends, and spatial relationships relevant to the evaluation, including feature distribution, disparities, and the program's impact on spatial dynamics.

Advice for choosing this method

  • Only issues that have geographical distribution are useful for analysis with maps

Advice for using this method

  • People will only identify areas based on their relationship with and understanding of that area. For example, the map of an area that is designed by an interested mining group might differ significantly from a map of the same area designed by local villagers.
  • The larger number of topics on a maps the more complex it will be. For this reason it might be a good idea to do series of maps based, with each referring to different issues and using different indicators.

This advice was taken from Guijt, I., & Woodhill (2002).


Guijt, I., & Woodhill, J. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Office of Evaluation Studies. (2002). Managing for impact in rural development: A guide for project M & E, Annex D. Retrieved from website: (PDF)

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