MapAction send team to Hurricane Irma in Caribbean

Hurricane Irma Heading Towards The Leeward Islands – (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

At 9.30 am on Weds Sept 6th a two person MapAction Disaster Mapping Team flew to Barbados, in position and immediately ready to assist with the response to Hurricane Irma, should it be requested by local authorities. In Barbados they will join up with UNDAC (UN Disaster Assessment & Coordination) who have also sent a three person team. MapAction are also in discussions with CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Management Agency) on how it might best support them in coordinating the regional response.

As is widely reported, Irma is now a category 5 hurricane moving across the Leeward Islands with expected impacts on several countries.  Some of those countries, such as Haiti, have already seen resilience to natural disasters seriously reduced by a succession of recent events such as Hurricane Matthew and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.

MapAction has significant recent experience in the region, having provided GIS teams in response to the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Matthew, as well as assisting with Tropical Storm Erica and Hurricanes Ike and Tomas.

MapAction member showing Map Board during Haiti Hurricane Matthew 2016

The team MapAction have sent this time consists of two volunteers, both highly skilled GIS specialists with significant experience in disaster mapping and response. MapAction also has a small team of trained Disaster GIS Volunteers who live in the region and can be called upon once the impact of Hurricane Irma becomes clear. Further MapAction volunteers might be requested once the effects of Irma and the need for mapping support become apparent, and MapAction is ready to provide them if necessary.

Maps and data will be published on the MapAction maps and data repository as they are created.

Humanitarian Mapping Course

Do you or your staff need to rapidly create the right maps to inform good decisions in an emergency?
Would good visual information from the field assist you in your decision making?

Date: Tuesday 31 October 2017 to Thursday 2 November 2017

Where: MapAction, The Clare Charity Centre, Wycombe Road, Saunderton, Buckinghamshire, HP14 4BF

MapAction’s three-day Humanitarian Mapping Course will enable the creation of useful maps from the avalanche of data, in ways that have been proven in a wide range of disaster situations, to aid key decision makers in a major crisis.

See at a glance which areas are worst affected, where the most vulnerable people are and, with the right map, identifying the information most relevant to you. Click here to see more MapAction map samples.

MapAction have deployed to over 70 humanitarian disasters and have helped as many again remotely. MapAction are a stand-by partner to the UN Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) team. MapAction provides mapping training to UN OCHA, UNDAC, INSARAG and many other organisations with responsibility for humanitarian disaster management.

MapAction’s three-day Humanitarian Mapping Course has been developed to give practical training on open source software combined with proven field applications. The course is suitable for initial international responders, humanitarian or development practitioners who have limited experience of “data visualisation”.

About the course

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

This course is aimed at delegates that have some knowledge of existing GIS platforms such as Google earth.

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 responders and 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

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

The course will be held at the MapAction office in Saunderton which is easily reached by train from central London and Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments will be provided but accommodation is not included. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance with finding accommodation.

Band A: Student / Unemployed / Small Charity* £360
Band B: Self–funding Individuals / Medium Charity** £600
Band C: Large Charity / Commercial & State Organisations £950
* Defined by having fewer than 25 employees ** Defined by having fewer than 45 employees

Places on this course are limited. To book a place please click this link and select ‘tickets’.

To find out more please contact Head of Training at: or call +44 (0)1494 56 88 99.