To explore the potential of geo-spatial data and the use of geo-spatial technology in social research, a pilot study was undertaken at Bhora Khurd, a village situated in Manesar tehsil of Haryana. The intention was to understand the technical feasibility, scalability and gauge challenges that may arise in the process. While drones were used to produce detailed images along with elevation profile of the geographical space, a household level survey was conducted alongside to geo-reference granular-level information collected on ground.
The first objective was to profile the village spatially through transect walks, aerial mapping using UAVs while taking down the geo-coordinates of community infrastructure, resources, unutilised spaces, waste lands, disposal grounds and so on. This was followed by mapping and identifying population distribution, demographic and socio-economic attributes along with other household level information to obtain granular data. An in-depth interview was conducted with the village sarpanch to gather an overall understanding of social governance of the community, with an emphasis on general issues.
During the survey, 107 households were selected through random sampling to assess the socio-economic profile of the members, their access to basic infrastructural services and their perceptions of major problems in the village. The GPS coordinates of the surveyed households were also recorded using tablets to feed into the GIS dataset. One must note that the accuracy level of geo points recorded using tablets ranges between 0-30 m, while aerially produced maps and KMZ (Key Hole Markup Language) datasets are accurate to the range of 5-20 cm.
The entire exercise has helped the Government to understand certain issues faced by the villagers. One of the major factors came to notice was lack of healthcare system. According to the survey, there was no public dispensary or health centre in the village, and the nearest government hospital was about three kilometre away. Consequently, 50 per cent of the households reported that they consult an unqualified practitioner for primary health issues and 32 per cent consult a private qualified doctor. Merely 16 per cent of the households reported that they approach a government health facility.
Another scathing fact came to light was lack of solid waste disposal. Household waste is generally discarded in pits lining the agricultural land, or designated areas in the agricultural land by households which own land. Around 21 out of the 107 sampled households reported disposing waste in open land, and out of those, most of them do not own agricultural land. Seventy one households reported improper water drainage and 38 households reported lack of general cleanliness and unavailability of dustbins for waste disposal. These are some of the major problem faced by the village.
Further, due to improper drainage leading to accumulation of waste water, the households reported to have suffered from common water borne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, chikungunya and malaria in the past three months. Lack of public transport from the village, unavailability of the public health center and frequent power cuts were some of the other problems stated by the village households.
Evidentiary proof of failure of drainage system owing to the area’s elevation profile which was captured through geo-referenced aerial maps (KMZ files) and orthophotos in this study was shared with village sarpanch along with demographic distribution and analysis of data collected from households on access and availability of basic infrastructure resources. This helped the authorities in identifying and visualising priority areas for development plans