What is a Mauza?
A mauza is a unit of land organization in Pakistan. In particular a mauza refers to a revenue estate. A mauza can contain a number of villages/settlements. The diagram below depicts land organization in Pakistan and helps clarify what is meant by ‘mauza’:
The Importance of Mauza Mapping
The significance of producing mauza-level administrative boundary maps for districts across Pakistan is immense:
- Current maps of the Survey of Pakistan show administrative boundaries only up to the level of tehsil. To understand the difference in coarseness it is important to mention, for example, that while there are about 120 tehsils in Punjab, these contain more than 26,000 mauzas. Mauza level maps will, therefore, provide a much more detailed picture of the country.
- At the rural level the mauza is a very integral unit. As a result it is important not only to produce mauza level maps but also to overlay other mauza level data onto these maps. Every socio-economic, demographic and other dataset that is collected by the government in rural areas is at the level of the mauza. Data belonging to various departments such as Livestock, Health, Literacy and Education are indexed by mauza. The government, however, registers such data in lists, often in excel files. Such data is not geo-referenced and is not available on maps severely undermining its use value. Visually representing these various data sets on a mauza level map will allow for the depiction of various characteristics such as population density, access to water, spread of educational and health facilities and access to markets across different mauzas. This allows for the inference of spatial trends and more effective decision making. In particular it depicts intra-district and intra-tehsil variations and inequalities across mauzas. The usefulness of such mapping for provincial and district coordinators cannot be emphasized enough: decisions about allocating resources where they will have an optimal outcome will become easier to make.
- Apart from non-emergency situations, mauza maps are also fundamental in emergency situations and in the aftermath of disasters (such as the one Pakistan is currently experiencing). Questions of where to distribute aid and to who, need to be answered rapidly and can be with the aid of mauza level maps. This is because it will be apparent where exactly disaster has struck. For instance, following the earthquake in 2005 relief providers had great difficulty in delivering aid to the people of AJK as they were uncertain about the existence of and the exact location of villages. The first maps were generated 2 weeks after the earthquake by the UN. Mauza mapping is necessary for ensuring that no community or person is left behind in the relief distribution and reconstruction process
Mauza Mapping: The Process
Step 1: The first requirement is to generate an authenticated mauza list. This master list is sought from district record rooms
Step 2: The FloodMAPS team visits the district record rooms where masavis (maps) are stored. These masavis are then scanned using custom designed scanners
Step 3: The scanned images of the mauza are taken; the extracted areas are then digitally stitched together to provide a complete image of the relevant mauza
Step 4: Groups of mauzas are then mosaiced together i.e. mauzas are stitched together creating a larger map
Step 5: This is subsequently geo-referenced with satellite images
Step 6: These images are then pasted on to Google Earth. The data is now geo-referenced, which it was not to begin with.
Mauza Mapping: Challenges
Mauza mapping is a massive undertaking; Pakistan contains about 52,000 mauzas in total. The FloodMAPS team has initiated this project in the Punjab province. A number of challenges have arisen in the course of this project thus far.
- The biggest challenge faced was getting this project going. Mauza mapping had not been undertaken before and it was not certain that it would work. Such mapping is a time and energy intensive exercise that requires support from multiple quarters at both the national and the local level. The FloodMAPS team has received this required institutional support from a number of players including: SUPARCO, PITB and the Urban Unit. For more details click here
- In addition, it is necessary to acquire a deep understanding of the land revenue system of Pakistan. A superficial understanding of the patwar system does not suffice. Apart from becoming acquainted with the jargon associated with this system, one also has to gain awareness of the ins and outs of the workings of it. It is essential to understand how land records are stored and managed by patwaris as these have important implications for how the mauza mapping project will proceed. Our mapping of the mauzas is, in other words, dependent on the way these have been ‘mapped’ by the patwaris.
- An on-going challenge is deciding between different strategies at every step of the mauza mapping process. They are certain technical trade-offs especially with reference to how to scan, how to stitch and how to map.