Our history

The idea of MapAction was originally conceived by Rupert Douglas-Bate when he was working as an emergency water engineer in Bosnia in 1994. Rupert identified that there was a gap in mapped analysis to support the effective planning and delivery of humanitarian aid.

Rupert’s father Andrew then supported the founding of the charity, which was initially registered under the name Aid for Aid. The organisation recruited its first staff member, David Spackman, in 2002.

A team of four volunteers was initially assembled to support David in developing the structure, systems and processes needed to deliver mapping expertise for humanitarian emergencies. The team subsequently rose to 29 volunteers by the end of 2003.

Our first deployment came in 2003 to Lesotho in response to a food security emergency. The following year MapAction conducted its first rapid response emergency mission when a deadly tsunami hit the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day 2004. A team of 16 travelled to Sri Lanka to help make sense of the unfolding disaster.

2004 was also marked by the change in our name to MapAction.

Increasing productivity

Since those early days we have been constantly learning and innovating in order to deliver the best possible service for disaster-affected people.

Today we have around 25 staff members and 75 volunteers.

We typically deploy fewer volunteers to the field now, as we are able to delegate tasks to volunteers working in their home country. This has enabled us to increase our productivity by drawing upon more expertise, but without significantly increasing deployment costs.

Award-winning work

Since we began we have been involved in more than 140 humanitarian crises and natural disasters. The responses to those emergencies have seen us grow, together with our volunteer membership. We currently have more than 70. Our volunteers have administered more than 500 disaster resilience seminars or events in 80 countries and supported the UN on more than 65 missions.  We have responded to the Nepal earthquakes, the earthquakes in Turkey, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and conflict-driven emergencies in Africa and Asia.

We have supported thousands of different national and international aid teams, bringing help to millions of people whose welfare and very existence have been threatened by devastating events.

Our work has been recognised through several international awards, including an Association for Geographic Information Award for Excellence for our response to Ebola in West Africa, as well as four Stevie International Business awards for Company of the Year, Management Team of the Year, Chairman of the Year and Support Team of the Year.