Skip to content

Skip to navigation

MapAction supports data preparedness in Sri Lanka
Monday, 04 July 2016 12:31

Just weeks before massive floods in Sri Lanka killed more than 80 people and forced around 300,000 to leave their homes, MapAction and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) worked with the Government of Sri Lanka to prepare essential base data for emergency preparedness and response.

MapAction and WFP had undertaken a disaster preparedness mission in early May to establish a robust database of key information that would help the national Disaster Management Centre and humanitarian aid agencies decide how best to provide assistance right from the outset of a disaster.

Sri Lanka is experiencing increasing incidences of extreme climatic events. Communities are regularly being struck by droughts, floods and high winds, with highly detrimental impacts on livelihoods and food security. According to a report by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), floods alone have cost the Sri Lankan economy over USD $700 million in the last ten years. Tropical Cyclone Roanu hit the country 14-20 May, bringing as much as 300mm rainfall over three consecutive days, which led to widespread flooding and landslides.

Maps are a critical component of any humanitarian response, in order to determine which communities are affected and how best to assist them. Having high quality data in advance of an event can make a vital difference to the effectiveness of a response when disaster strikes.

MapAction volunteer, Tom Hughes, explains: “In those crucial first days post-disaster, it’s vital to have good quality data on the country’s topography, administrative areas, transport networks, as well as up-to-date statistics on population, health, education and economic status. All these factors influence how a response is planned and how resources are allocated.

MapAction’s collaboration with WFP has put in place a robust database which can be regularly updated and used right from the outset of an emergency response. This means that those precious hours post-disaster can be dedicated to saving lives and minimising suffering, which is the ultimate aim of MapAction’s humanitarian mapping service.”

MapAction and WFP, working with local authorities, have together created a database of relevant information which is "ready-for-use" in an emergency. The information gathered will be accessible to government and all humanitarian responders and regularly updated and improved in order to maintain the accuracy of the data.

Amy Chong, Regional GIS Coordinator for WFP’s Food Security Analysis team for Asia and the Pacific, explains:

“WFP plays a key role in the coordination of delivery of emergency food assistance in Sri Lanka and across the globe. If we have data to hand to understand the profile of the people affected by a disaster, we can spring into action more quickly. That’s data preparedness. The database we’ve set up with MapAction will help us and fellow responders determine what kind of assistance people in each area might need, be it food or other items. It’s all about thinking ahead. The population figures have even been projected as far forward as the next planned census in 2022, giving us a solid basis from which to plan and programme responses well into the future.”

This project was the first collaboration between MapAction and WFP as part of a broader partnership to strengthen humanitarian responses in South East Asia. The database developed in Sri Lanka will serve as a template for further joint initiatives planned for Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Pacific Island communities in the coming year.

Rapid response for Ecuador earthquake
Monday, 18 April 2016 09:03

Two MapAction volunteers have deployed to Ecuador this morning in response to Saturday’s major earthquake. MapAction’s support was requested by the United Nations, following a call for international assistance from the Ecuadorian government on Sunday.

It is anticipated that the team’s initial focus will be to help coordinate search and rescue efforts in the hope of finding more survivors. MapAction’s highly-trained volunteers will also map the needs of survivors, so that responders can target their aid accordingly.

MapAction's Operations Director, Emma Mumford, commented:

"Ecuador is a country prone to earthquakes, so the government has strong procedures in place to be able to respond. Nevertheless the scale of this particular shock - the strongest since 1979 - has caused considerable loss of life and severe damage to infrastructure across an extensive area.

MapAction has sent one of its most experienced volunteers, who has previously undertaken 13 other emergency missions, including to last year's Nepal earthquakes. Our team trains year-round to be able to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies such as this, so I'm sure our contributions, once again, will prove invaluable in helping to save lives and getting aid to where it is needed most."

Responding to El Nino floods in Paraguay
Sunday, 17 April 2016 09:47

MapAction has sent a team of two volunteers to support the United Nations (UN) and Government of Paraguay in coordinating relief efforts following extensive flooding. The team will be helping the UN’s Disaster Assessment and Coordination team analyse the needs of affected communities and coordinate a strategic response.

Paraguay has been experiencing severe flooding since December 2015. According to a report from the United Nations at the time, at least 130,000 people had been evacuated from their homes. Although conditions had improved in recent months, recent heavy rainfall has exacerbated the situation for thousands of people already in need. Further rainfall is forecast to arrive in the remainder of April and May.

The floods have been linked to the “El Niño” phenomenon, whereby sea-surface temperature changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean lead to climate fluctuations. This is a cyclical phenomenon, but according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation the 2015-2016 El Niño is one of the strongest on record.

MapAction briefs Prince Harry on Nepal response
Thursday, 17 March 2016 14:16

Prince Harry welcomed MapAction to Kensington Palace yesterday for a briefing in advance of his official tour to Nepal. He met with MapAction’s Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, and three of our volunteers who played pivotal roles in our four-month long response.

MapAction volunteer, Dr Hamish Pritchard, had been working in Nepal when the first earthquake struck. He described to Prince Harry his personal reflections on experiencing this major disaster first-hand. Hamish explained how he immediately diverted to support search-and-rescue efforts from Kathmandu and outlined some of the challenges during this acute, life-saving phase of the response.

Kirsty Ferris then outlined how she and fellow MapAction volunteers quickly deployed to reinforce the team in Nepal. Kirsty briefed Prince Harry on how geospatial analysis helped responders identify the worst-affected areas, prioritise their response and establish the best routes available to reach those in greatest need. She also described how she travelled to Gorkha, one of the worst-affected areas, to support the United Nations in setting up coordination hub to facilitate an efficient and effective response.

Wai-Ming Lee (known as Ming) briefed Prince Harry on the final stages of MapAction’s emergency mission. He described how he delivered training and handed over key tools and know-how to partners to support the long-term recovery. He emphasised the importance of geospatial analysis for responders to understand the likely impact of the monsoon and the arrival of winter for communities already coping with the aftermath of the earthquakes.

Prince Harry has been MapAction’s Royal Patron since 2007. At the end of our briefing, he commented: “What you’ve done for Nepal and what you do is fantastic.”

Be part of #teammapaction with RideLondon 100!
Thursday, 10 March 2016 11:10

This July why not test your cycling prowess with the best of them on the 100-mile route made famous by the London 2012 Olympic road race!

“The shear enjoyment and exhilaration of riding on closed roads through the 2012 Olympic road route is worth entering the ride for, along with the camaraderie of 25000 cyclists, cycling past all those landmarks, finishing on the Mall and not forgetting raising money for such an important cause.” Colin, RideLondon participant 2015.

Apply for a MapAction place for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey event today!

Date: Sunday 31 July 2016

Location: The event starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and follows a 100-mile route on closed roads through London and into the spectacular Surrey countryside.

Registration fee: £50

Sponsorship target: £500

Difficulty level: People of all abilities are welcome, but please be aware that the route involves some challenging hill climbs. Participants are expected to complete the 100-mile route within 8.5 hours.

What support do you get?

  • A dedicated point of contact to help you with your fundraising
  • A support team on the day
  • Well-earned refreshments and a massage to welcome you at the end
  • A branded MapAction cycling top once you've raised over £200
  • The knowledge that your fundraising efforts will help deliver our emergency mapping service to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

How to apply: Please complete our short online application form to register your interest.

Got your own place? We'd love to welcome you to #teammapaction! There is no minimum sponsorship, but if you raise over £200 you too can earn one of our stylish MapAction cycling tops! For more information, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 01494 56 88 99.

Responding to Cyclone Winston in Fiji
Monday, 22 February 2016 11:03

MapAction is responding to a category 5 storm which made landfall on Fiji’s northern Lau islands between 20-21 February. One highly experienced volunteer has already deployed to support the response and help identify priority needs. A second volunteer will reinforce our team in Fiji in the coming days.

At its peak Cyclone Winston was estimated by the Fiji Meteorological Service to have sustained winds of 230kmph, gusting to 325 kmph, making it the most powerful cyclone to hit Fiji since record-keeping began. The cyclone has caused extensive damage to homes, schools and businesses. There are particular concerns for communities on outlying islands which are thought to have been especially hard hit.

Recent reports in the media, although unconfirmed, have put the death toll at over 20, with fears that this will continue to rise. In many areas power lines have been brought down and communications cut off, making it more challenging to collect accurate, comprehensive data on impact and needs.

The Fiji National Disaster Management Office has activated all government emergency systems including National and Divisional Emergency Operations Centres. MapAction’s team will be supporting the Fijian government and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to help prioritise and target the humanitarian response.

Photograph: HANDOUT/Reuters

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 25