Relationship mapping exercise

A tool for understanding people, places and systems

This relationship mapping exercise is designed as a collaborative exercise involving community members and aims to initiate thinking and understanding of the relationships between people, a place and systems.

This exercise has the potential to educate communities about the complexity, interdependencies and linkages between people, place/land and systems (natural and human made) – if conducted in a participatory format. 

The civil society organisation may bring in experts (or professionals in the community) with experience in development planning, risks, disasters, socio-economics or environment as observers or as consultants to collaborate in this exercise. 

An example of a relationship mapping exercise is described below with the objective of understanding factors linked to hazards and risk drivers, as well as their impacts.

This exercise can be run as a workshop or a small group exercise. 

Before initiating this exercise, you should:

  1. Present and explain the findings of the visioning workshop
  2. Present work done so far under stages two, three and four of risk-informed development planning
  3. Explain the concept of relationship mapping and its purpose to the participating community members

1. Randomly divide the participants into groups

2. Make a list of all hazards and risk-drivers that the community is facing (ask participants and write them on the board; the facilitator can add any other threats or hazards that are not mentioned but are relevant to the community or region)

3. Assign one or two hazards/risk drivers to each group

4. Share a set of four cue cards with each group titled: People, Place, Resource and Infrastructure/Systems for each hazard/risk driver; use a cue card set of one colour for each hazard/risk driver (i.e, each hazard or risk driver discussed will have a pre-assigned cue card colour)

5. The question for deliberation is: What are the impacts and/or consequences of hazards and risk drivers on people, place/resource, and infrastructure/systems? (This question has to be discussed for each of the hazards or risk drivers that each group is assigned)

6. Ask each group to deliberate and list answers to the question on the back of the cue card

7. On a large classroom board or on the floor, write down each of the hazards and risk drivers discussed and place all the cue cards around each of the hazards and risk-drivers that have been taken up

8. Ask all the participants to take time to go through all the cue cards around each risk driver

9. Ask a few of the participants to rearrange all the cue cards based on the titles:

  • Group the cue cards on people affected by all the listed hazards/risk drivers
  • Group cue cards on places/areas/regions and resources affected by the various hazards/risk drivers. Pin up a large base map (A1 or A0 size) of the village/neighbourhood and map/colour the impacted area on the base map of the neighbourhood/village. Use coloured pencils assigned to each hazard to draw/colour impacted areas  
  • Group cue cards on infrastructure affected by hazards/risk drivers
  • Group all cue cards on systems (social/economic/cultural/democratic systems etc.) affected by hazards/risk drivers

10. Display this grouping on the floor or on the wall for everyone to see and discuss

11. Conclude and capture the proceedings of the group exercise

This resource is taken from our Risk-Informed Development Guide, which provides a comprehensive stage-by-stage approach to working with communities most at risk.

View guide

Project partners

Our Risk-Informed Development Guide was produced as part of our Local Leadership for Global Impact project. The project and all related content was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ.

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Our Local Leadership for Global Impact project is implemented in partnership with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

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