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Responding to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 10:50

MapAction has deployed a team to Haiti to support the response to Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to hit the Caribbean in almost a decade.

Hurricane Matthew struck the southwest coast of Haiti at 0700 local time on 4 October, bringing winds of up to 230km/h and torrential rain. It has since continued across to the northwest of the country. There are particular concerns for flooding and landslides, as well as the risk of cholera outbreaks.

This MapAction deployment follows a prepositioning mission to Jamaica in advance of the hurricane. In both countries our volunteers are working closely with United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams on the ground to access the most up-to-date, accurate data and help coordinate the response.

MapAction has past experience of working in Haiti, following the major earthquake in 2010 which claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people, and in 2008 for the impact of storms.

 
Prepositioning to Jamaica for Hurricane Matthew
Sunday, 02 October 2016 19:21

A powerful hurricane is moving across the Caribbean with wind speeds thought to be strong enough to destroy buildings.

Two MapAction volunteers have travelled to Jamaica as a prepositioned humanitarian mapping team in advance of Hurricane Matthew which is due to make landfall by Monday. Tropical storm warnings have also been issued for Haiti and Cuba.

MapAction’s assistance was requested by the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. The joint MapAction-UNDAC team has travelled in advance of the storm in order to be on the ground and ready to respond before the impact is felt.

From Jamaica MapAction’s volunteers are closely monitoring and plotting the path of Hurricane Matthew, helping responders understand the likely impact before and after the storm passes. Being at the scene means they have access to the most up-to-date situational data and can identify quickly which communities have been worst affected.

MapAction has experience of prepositioning teams for past emergencies, including Typhoon Haiyan which caused significant loss of life and extensive damage in the Philippines in November 2013. This prepositioning of MapAction’s specialist skills proved invaluable in the case of Typhoon Haiyan as airports were closed and in many cases damaged following the storm, causing significant challenges and delays in accessing affected areas.

 
Supporting the response to Tanzania earthquake
Saturday, 17 September 2016 19:33

At the request of the United Nations, a MapAction volunteer has deployed to Tanzania to support the response to an earthquake which struck the border area between Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda on 10 September.

According to early information, at least 13 people have been reported dead and more than 200 hospitalised with injuries resulting from the quake. Assessments are still underway, however it is thought that hundreds of buildings have been destroyed and many more identified as damaged and unsafe.

It is anticipated that our volunteer will help compile analysis of priority needs from Bukoba town near the earthquake’s epicentre.

 
Responding to seismic activity in Cape Verde
Monday, 08 August 2016 10:57

MapAction has sent a volunteer mapping professional to Cape Verde to support the United Nations following seismic activity and the risk that this may stimulate a volcanic eruption.

Between 1-2 August abnormal seismic activity was recorded on the island of Brava, the most southern island of Cape Verde. Scientist and experts are monitoring the situation and have advised that the authorities should be prepared for a possible volcanic eruption. Contingency plans are being drawn up for an evacuation of the island’s 6,000 inhabitants if required.

The Government of Cape Verde has asked partners to be prepared to provide humanitarian and logistical support for affected communities. MapAction’s volunteer will be working in partnership with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team to provide up-to-date situational analysis to support decision-making.

This is MapAction’s first deployment to Cape Verde, however our team provided remote mapping support for volcanic activity on the neighbouring island of Fogo in 2014.


Photo: Alexis Gouin

 
Humanitarian Mapping Course

Mapping skills and knowledge for Humanitarian and Development workers

From: Tuesday 1 November 2016

To: Thursday 3 November 2016

Where: MapAction, Wycombe Road, Saunderton, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4BF, United Kingdom

About the course

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and related tools are crucial tools in disaster preparedness and response in affected countries. However, humanitarian and development organisations need simple, low cost methods to collect and map information about needs and assistance programmes.

This three-day course has been developed by the international humanitarian NGO MapAction. It aims to give practical training on tools and methods proven in the field, and suitable for humanitarian or development practitioners who have little or no previous experience of GIS and without the use of expensive tools and software.

What will I learn?

On completing the course, delegates will have the knowledge needed to carry out spatial data collection, spatial analysis and basic mapping. They will also have an understanding of how to find the necessary free/open-source tools and software needed to set up a GIS project. Typical applications include:

  • Field-based navigation and needs assessment
  • Identifying areas in priority need of aid and gaps in delivery
  • Planning and monitoring programmes
  • Support to logistics
  • Identifying hazards and security risks 
  • Reporting, communication and advocacy

Outline syllabus

The course will cover the following topics:
  • Mapping and information management for humanitarian work
  • Creating base maps using open-source mapping and QGIS software and online data sources
  • Creating thematic maps showing humanitarian situations
  • Undertaking a field data collection survey
  • Sharing information through a web map

The principal instructors will be GIS practitioners with MapAction field experience in humanitarian emergencies. All course materials and software will be provided. Computers and GPS units can be loaned if needed but you are encouraged to bring your own laptops on which open-source software can be installed. During the course you will be able to search for data and setup a project around your area of interest so making it easier to apply what you have learned directly to your work.

Practicalities, fees and registration

The course will be held at the MapAction office in Saunderton which is easily reached by train from central London. Accommodation is not included, lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Course fees are shown in the table below (all in pounds sterling).

Band A: Student / Unemployed / Small Charity*

£360

Band B: Self–funding Individuals / Medium Charity**

£480

Band C: Large Charity / Commercial & State Organisations

£950

* Defined by having fewer than 25 employees ** Defined by having fewer than 45 employees

To find out more please contact Jonny Douch (Training Coordinator) at:

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Telephone: +44 (0)1494 56 88 99

To book a place please follow this link and click tickets - Humanitarian Mapping Course 1-3 November 2016

 
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.

 
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