|GISCorps: A Dream Becomes a Reality|
By Martha Lombard
The GISCorps is working on its first project, assisting a World Bank mission in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru to evaluate existing GIS capabilities, and to design a methodology for street addressing of the many towns in the Valley. Martha Lombard, Past President, worked with the World Bank’s Project Leader to bring this project to the GISCorps, and she has spent the last week in Peru with the team.
The Project itself focuses on the many issues facing the Sacred Valley, including the need for potable water, treatment of sewage and solid waste disposal, public health, economic development, and both the better handling of tourists and the further development of tourism. The team also includes representatives from the National Geographic Society, Peruvian organizations, and an eco-industrial group from Canada. The team has visited the main villages in the valley, and the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, as well as hiking a portion of the Inca Trail to view the status of the campgrounds and the trail.
There is good GIS at the provincial level, including many environmental maps. Both the the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and the Province of Cuzco have been studied quite extensively, and the use of GIS is quite common at this level. In the towns, most of the existing electronic mapping consists of cadastral (parcel) maps, and these are often quite good also. There is even some existing street addressing, although the municipal officers indicate that it is incomplete and not well maintained (Sound familiar?). All of the municipal staff that we contacted were extremely helpful and willing to share their information with us, and asked for future assistance in developing their mapping and addressing capabilities. Most of the villages we saw are quite old, some with histories going back more than 1000 years. The streets are narrow, and the buildings are constructed with adobe bricks and tile roofs. The villages are organized around central squares, where the City Hall and the main church are located. Each has a market area, either in the square or in a structure adjacent to it. Fruits, vegetables, meats, and other produce are sold in the markets, along with household goods, cloth, and sometimes traditional crafts (primarily for the tourists). The Sunday market in the town of Pisac is world famous. For tourists going to Machu Picchu, the trip requires a ride on Peru Rail?’s train through the mountains to the village of Aguas Calientes. This village, constructed along the banks of the Rio Vilcanota, is not accessible by car. In the village, there is a large, recently constructed market for handicrafts, numerous hotels and restaurants, and bus service to Machu Picchu itself. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes up a steep set of switchbacks.
GISCorps involvement with the projects for the World Bank is designed to lead to additional GISCorps assignments. As each of the villages is addressed and more completely mapped, teams of local people will be trained to work in the field. Training and further support for the development of these local GIS programs as management tools for the villages will be needed.. These will be short term assistance assignments, and will measurably improve the capabilities of these beautiful and historic towns.