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Join the MapAction team in 2016
Monday, 04 January 2016 00:00

MapAction is seeking to expand its volunteer team and is looking for people with a range of skills including GIS, system administration and software development.

In the first six months of joining most new volunteers will be trained to become deployable team members and will then become available to deploy to emergencies providing GIS and other technical support to humanitarian partners. Those who do not deploy to the affected country during an emergency will provide technical support to the field team.

In between emergencies there are also opportunities to support disaster preparedness and build local capacity anywhere in the world, with volunteers working with national and local government or humanitarian non-government organisations in-country. Volunteers will provide geospatial and information management training at UK and international courses and participate in disaster simulation exercises with the UN or other humanitarian partners.

Developing and supporting the technical capacity of MapAction is equally vital and there are always ongoing projects to be involved with. These include software development projects such as specific GIS customisation for desktop, server-based products and web development, and maintenance of laptops, networking and satellite communications.

Click on the links below to see the profile of each of the 3 volunteer roles.

All applications should be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The closing date for applications is 31 January 2016.



 
MapAction wins AGI award for Ebola response

MapAction is delighted to announce that it has won the AGI Award for Excellence with Impact for its Ebola response.

The AGI awards celebrate best practice from across the UK in the application of Geographic Information. MapAction was honoured to be shortlisted for three awards and win the category "Excellence with Impact". The award was made in recognition of the courage and commitment of MapAction's volunteers and staff who deployed to Ebola-affected countries to help map the crisis and stem the spread of Ebola.

MapAction's Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, commented: "I never fail to be impressed and inspired by the commitment of our exceptional team of volunteers. From natural disasters to complex emergencies, I know they can be counted on to respond, but this was something out of the ordinary. I am incredibly proud that so many stepped forward to help in this most challenging of missions and made such a vital difference to mounting an effective response."

 
Humanitarian response to Yemen cyclone
Saturday, 07 November 2015 00:00

Two MapAction volunteers are travelling to Muscat in Oman to support humanitarian efforts following the impact of Tropical Cyclone Chapala in Yemen. They will be working in partnership with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team to help coordinate and target the response.

At the beginning of November Yemen was struck by the most powerful storm seen in decades. Cyclone Chapala brought hurricane-force winds, torrential rain and high waves to the south Yemen coastline. This has resulted in severe flooding and widespread damage, particularly affecting communities on the island of Socotra and the mainland governorates of Shabwah and Hadramaut. According to the United Nations, up to 1.1 million people are thought to be affected. There are also concerns that continued rain and forecasts of further storms will exacerbate the already precarious situation.

Because tropical cyclones are rare in Yemen, the government and communities have limited capacity to respond to an emergency of this scale. Since March 2015 the country has also been experiencing widespread armed conflict, which has now been classified by the United Nations as a Level 3 emergency – used only for the most severe and large-scale humanitarian crises. The arrival of Cyclone Chapala has therefore brought further misery and suffering for already vulnerable communities.

 
MapAction responds to Mediterranean crisis

MapAction is deploying volunteers to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) offices in Athens, Belgrade and Geneva to support the coordination of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. Alongside this, MapAction will be working with ACAPS looking at the potential evolution of the situation and analysis of the crisis over the next few months.

Europe is experiencing a movement of people on a scale not seen since the Second World War. The reasons for this are complex; the scale of the situation is deeply concerning. According to recent figures from UNHCR*, more than 600,000 people have arrived in Europe by sea during 2015 alone. Tragically this year more than 3,000 are estimated to have died or gone missing while attempting to make this crossing.

As winter approaches, sea crossings are becoming ever more precarious and onward movement is even more challenging for already vulnerable people. Reports have highlighted that reception facilities are often overstretched, leading to new arrivals having to sleep rough in deteriorating weather conditions.

MapAction’s Operations Director, Emma Mumford, recently travelled to Greece, Serbia and Croatia to meet with humanitarian partners and understand first-hand some of the needs on the ground. Emma explains:

“The first thing that struck me in Lesvos was the warm welcome from the local community, volunteer groups and international organisations to new arrivals who were coming in on a daily basis. Civil society groups have really mobilised to do what they can to help, including greeting refugees with information, transportation and supplies to support their onward journey. It was a humbling experience.

Most of the refugees I met were fleeing from escalating violence in Syria. They described how extreme threats at home made it preferable to take their chances on boats across from Turkey (those I saw were small black inflatable dinghies that were not fit for purpose). But even then, the journey ahead is still one fraught with uncertainty and confusion.

With ever-increasing numbers of people arriving on islands like Lesvos, facilities are struggling to cope. Refugees then embark on a long and often difficult journey across Europe – taking a variety of different routes – all looking for safety and security for them and their families. Within this constantly changing context, responders typically do not know how many people they may need to support on a daily basis, and numbers are always one of the most fundamental considerations in planning any response.

A key challenge, therefore, is in understanding this mass movement of people, so that relief efforts can be coordinated and targeted effectively. This takes on a strong geographical dimension, which is of course where MapAction can play a vital role.

This is an unusual mission for MapAction. We typically only deploy to countries where technical mapping skills are in short supply and sudden onset disasters have overwhelmed existing capacity. Nevertheless it is clear that vulnerable people are suffering in this crisis and MapAction’s humanitarian mapping service can play a role in alleviating this.”

MapAction estimates that its response to the Mediterranean crisis will cost approximately £13,500. At time of writing, we do not have any external funding to support these costs.

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here. If you are a UK taxpayer, please don’t forget to Gift Aid your donation, as this will add a further 25p for every £1 donated. Thank you.



* UNHCR situation report, as of 15 October 2015

 
MapAction's South Sudan response continues
Thursday, 01 October 2015 10:00

MapAction has been working on a long-term project with humanitarian partners to establish settlement datasets for South Sudan to facilitate relief efforts since March, and is now entering the final stage of monitoring the impact of the work.

South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries, recovering from a long-standing conflict. It is also one of the most volatile. According to the United Nations, conflict has resulted in approximately 1.6 million people being displaced within South Sudan’s borders and more than 600,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries. This instability is also taking a devastating toll on food production, with more than 4.6 million people considered to be suffering from severe food insecurity. Ongoing security incidents affect communities and the ability of humanitarian teams to reach them with assistance.

MapAction has been working with the South Sudanese National Bureau of Statistics and humanitarian partners to help create the first ever harmonised datasets, establishing the locations of communities which, amongst other objectives, facilitates the effective delivery of humanitarian aid.

MapAction volunteers have undertaken a series of missions in recent months. The first, in May, was to establish which datasets were most important to support relief efforts. Two volunteers subsequently deployed in August to help collect the relevant data and create appropriate tools to enable effective data analysis.

Whilst MapAction works to complete the dataset tools, feedback from our partners so far has been extremely positive. Anecdotal feedback highlights that the data and tools made available will not only support the planning and implementation of humanitarian operations, but also help protect the safety and security of humanitarian workers in the field.

A third MapAction mission is planned for November 2015 to understand where improvements can be made, evaluate the usefulness of the project and capture lessons learnt. It is anticipated that much of the methodology could be replicated and built upon for other humanitarian contexts.

 
Supporting resilience in the Pacific
Thursday, 17 September 2015 09:45

In March this year MapAction responded to a category 5 storm that struck Vanuatu. The storm had a significant impact causing serious damage to the capital, Port Vila and other parts of the country. MapAction volunteers worked with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and with the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office to provide an emergency mapping resource in support of the response. Our work concluded in April as the relief phase began to wind down.

As the situation has started to stabilise and the people of Vanuatu are recovering from Cyclone Pam, MapAction has just returned to Vanuatu to assess how to build the country’s capacity for emergency response mapping in the future. At the invitation of the Government of Vanuatu and the United Nations Development Programme, MapAction deployed two mapping specialists, Alan Mills and volunteer Rachel Alsop, to consider current capacities and training requirements as a way to help Vanuatu become more resilient.

Vanuatu is an island nation approximately 2,000 km north east of Queensland, Australia. Made up of 83 islands, organised in six provinces, it has a population of 250,000. While a few islands have good infrastructure, many are composed of isolated villages relying predominantly on subsistence farming and fishing. As well as being in a cyclone-prone area from November to April each year, it has some of the most active volcanoes in the region and is in a seismically active zone. The small size of islands also makes water resources scarce during drought. Storm surge, landslides and villages being cut off by flooding rivers can be common occurrences in season. Building resilience against this set of potential emergencies is important and emergency mapping is vital within that.

The long-term aim of the project is to give Vanuatuan agencies greater capacity for responding quickly, with easily accessible accurate and extensive datasets, tools and protocols to be able to make maps and other information products and methods of distributing such. These should link with other resilience aims of the Government such as building early warning systems.

The aim of this particular mission was to scope the needs for such capacity, review the existing situation and make recommendations for gap filling to which MapAction could potentially contribute in a follow-up deployment. The mission tested once more our model for preparedness activities and broadens our experience in extending our services and expertise in this way. It also highlighted the importance of complementing current government standards and procedures, whilst also ensuring affected communities voices are heard. A follow-up capacity-building mission is proposed before the end 2015 to deliver the new dataset templates (e.g. for “who, what, where” analysis), establish protocols and data management, and train personnel in both product creation and database management. This would be timely to cope with forecasts of an emerging El Nino drought situation and preparing for the 2016 cyclone season.



 
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