West Africa, 17 Dec – Since September MapAction has been actively involved in helping tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with deployments to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana, as well as remote support for coordination efforts.
Our first mission was to Liberia, where 4 volunteers and 2 staff worked with the United Nations and International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP) to help coordinate the national and international Ebola response. At the time of the deployment 3,280 cases and 1,677 deaths had already been reported in-country, making it a priority to identify transmission routes and prevent further infections.
Shortly after more MapAction volunteers were deployed to Sierra Leone to work in the government’s National Ebola Response Centre in Freetown for a period of a month. Our mission was to use our mapping skills to help decision-makers ensure that adequate treatment facilities were being provided in the right places and to identify the most effective means of stopping the transmission of Ebola.
Working closely with the UK Department for International Development, our volunteers began by focusing on data management, providing reference information on administrative units and place codes at district and province level (crucial in making sure we were all making reference to the same places). We also provided information on the number of cases of Ebola, by gender and location, and identified where treatment centre were and how many beds were available.
This work was supplemented by mapping the number of cases against building density in Freetown and advising the water and sanitation authorities where to put fresh water tap stands. Our highly experienced volunteers briefed senior Sierra Leonean government ministers and the country’s president on our work.
On a regional level, two MapAction volunteers have been working on data management for the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response in Accra, Ghana. A further volunteer has recently deployed to Mali to support preparedness activities to pre-empt and contain any future outbreak in-country.
Alongside this work in the affected area, MapAction is also supporting the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) – a network of volunteer-based information management organisations like ourselves. One of our volunteers is currently holding the post of Network Coordinator. MapAction is also hosting the online network on our server, enabling round-the-clock communication between members globally on data sourcing and management.
Thanks to the support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) we are funding an Ebola response coordinator for DHN for six months. The role is supporting humanitarian responders by facilitating effective information-sharing.