MapAction wins Lloyd’s Market Charity Award

MapAction has been awarded £25,000 by the Lloyd’s Market Charity Awards in recognition of our disaster response and preparedness work.  The award will be used to enhance MapAction’s operational capability to help different regional and national emergency management bodies prepare for future humanitarian emergencies, and to help with responses to shocks and emergencies when they […]

Deepening the impact and effectiveness of humanitarian information

MapAction has begun an important and exciting programme of work funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID BHA).  The new grant, aimed at strengthening the sector, runs from 2021-2024. It will see MapAction working with local, regional and international organisations to ensure that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and information […]

Volunteer intake boosts skills and capacity

MapAction’s work is built around the skills and dedication of its volunteers. They work in numerous different fields in their day jobs and join us to undertake emergency and planned assignments both around the world and remotely.  This year, after a careful selection process, we are delighted to welcome two data scientists, a data engineer […]

MapAction signs an MoU with the Asian Disaster Risk Reduction Network

MapAction has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Asian Disaster Risk Reduction Network (ADRRN) with a view to stimulate further cooperation between the two organisations and to leverage our collective knowledge in order to better anticipate and prepare for future emergencies. This agreement demonstrates our commitment and desire to work with in-country Civil […]

Our largest training event of the year

On 17-19 September, MapAction held it’s largest annual training event, a realistic simulation of a humanitarian emergency, with colleagues from partners including the British Red Cross, Insecurity Insight, Save the Children and Tearfund. Our biggest training event of the year is in full swing. A disaster simulation exercise featuring storm flooding in the fictional country […]

South Sudan data package to support effective and equitable Covid vaccine delivery

COVID-19 has been tough for all of us but the development of COVID-19 vaccines should offer a lifeline to the whole world. However, for many, especially those in the world’s poorer countries, it’s yet to make an impact.  As part of the drive to provide equitable access to vaccines, international agencies involved in COVAX need […]

Contributing to excellence in emergency response

We are working with our colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) to share valuable insights and experience, and to learn about how AHA is adapting and developing the expertise of its team. The centre recently ran a series of virtual sessions which […]

Mapping COVID crises with GIMAC

So far, the COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly caused 214 million illnesses and killed nearly four and a half million people worldwide (Google statistics). The impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people is immense, especially where populations are already facing several humanitarian crises.  MapAction has been working with GIMAC (the Global Information Management, Assessment & […]

MapAction supports response to deadly earthquake in Haiti

Over a thousand people have died and many more have been injured in a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit on 14th August which has brought devastation to the Caribbean nation whose population is already highly vulnerable due to political and civil unrest. The epicentre of the earthquake was near the Northern […]

Raising vital funds through the London Marathon

Five heroic individuals are gearing up to run the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon for MapAction. Our runners (and their fundraising pages) are: Aaron Berdanier – running virtually Tim Davis Ian Davis Paul Rogers Ed Wallington Ian Davis, who is Director of Fundraising and Communications at MapAction, is running this year and says: “2021 is […]

Training Caribbean disaster managers

We are proud to be supporting the delivery of an online course in crisis mapping in the Caribbean this month. The training course will involve around 50 disaster management professionals from across the Caribbean and is in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), with input from the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).  This […]

Strengthening urban resilience with GNDR

MapAction’s strategy to 2023 aims to use geospatial technology and insight to bridge the gap between humanitarian need and available resources. We are doing this by, among other things, helping local, regional and global civil society networks to conduct their own geospatial analysis, and bolstering the resilience of urban communities to different types of crises. […]

Training moves online for emergency responders in Central Asia

During April and May, MapAction is providing online training in mapping and data tools and techniques to emergency responders in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. This is part of an ongoing programme of work with the Central Asian Center for Emergency Situations & Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR) to improve and expand disaster preparedness, relief and recovery activities across Central […]

MapAction and HeiGIT partner to further geoinformation innovation

The Heidelberg Institute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) and MapAction have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining their plans to collaborate in a number of areas. Both organisations share a common vision to support humanitarian mapping by providing innovative geoinformation services for humanitarian response, mitigating risk, anticipatory action and economic development. This includes developing up-to-date […]

MapAction supports St Vincent volcano emergency response

MapAction is providing mapping and information management support to the La Soufriere volcano emergency on the island of St Vincent, in response to requests from both CDEMA (Caribbean Disasters & Emergency Management Agency) and UN OCHA’s regional office.  Explosive eruptions from La Soufriere since April 9th have caused ash clouds to cover much of St […]

MapAction partners to support COVID-19 vaccine delivery

Administering billions of shots of COVID-19 vaccine around the world is a logistical challenge of unprecedented proportions. It is even more complex in countries lacking basic healthcare infrastructure, cold storage or comprehensive transport networks, or where accurate population information is not available. Understanding how geospatial analysis can help, MapAction is partnering with other geographic information […]

MapAction selected for Google Summer of Code

MapAction has been chosen as one of 202 organisations taking part in Google’s 2021 Summer of Code, a global programme that aims to bring student developers into open source software development. As part of the scheme, which has now entered into its 17th year, students can apply for placement projects from 202 open source entities, […]

MapAction supports response to Equatorial Guinea explosions

Following a series of explosions on 7th March at an armoury of the Nkuantoma Gendarmerie and military barracks in Bata, the economic capital of Equatorial Guinea, The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) reached out to MapAction to support the response. Over 100 people were reported to have been killed and 700 injured in […]

Interactive map shows violence and threats to health workers during COVID-19

The increase in the number of security incidents affecting healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been highlighted in an interactive web map launched today. Incidents include the arson of COVID-19 testing facilities, the targeting of health workers on their way home from clinics, and violent responses to mask requirements. Developed by Insecurity Insight, a […]

MapAction contributes to new health emergencies handbook

Over 50 authors, including two MapAction team members, have contributed their expertise and insight about working in health emergencies to a new handbook for humanitarian professionals. Spearheaded by the Robert Koch Institute, In Control: A Practical Handbook for Professionals Working in Health Emergencies Internationally is aimed at preparing and supporting those deploying internationally during humanitarian […]

MapAction members recognised in New Years Honours

MapAction’s Chief Executive Liz Hughes and one of our long-serving volunteers, Alan Mills, have been awarded an OBE and MBE respectively in the Overseas and International Honours List 2021 announced last night. The awards come in recognition for their services to international development and humanitarian crisis operations. Alan Mills has been a MapAction volunteer since 2005, […]

MapAction welcomes six new volunteers

It takes a special kind of person to join MapAction’s band of very dedicated and highly skilled volunteers. Following a competitive recruitment process, six new faces have joined our team, expanding our capacity to provide knowledge and practical support to organisations around the world preparing for and responding to different types of emergencies. The new […]

Emergency support for hurricane-hit Guatemala

A three-person MapAction team is today travelling to Guatemala following extreme flooding and catastrophic landslides in 12 of 22 of the country’s administrative departments caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Ten departments have declared a state of emergency and the Guatemalan government has requested foreign assistance. Around one million Guatemalans are estimated to be directly […]

Responding to Hurricanes Eta and Iota

Countries in Central America are facing catastrophic winds and flooding as Hurricane Iota, a Category 5 storm, makes its way across Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. With wind gusts of up to 250km/hr and torrential rain, Iota made landfall in northeast Nicaragua last night. It is compounding the damage and devastation inflicted by Category 4 […]

Helping to build new Caribbean Risk Information System (CRIS)

Launched today, the Caribbean Risk Information System (CRIS) is a “one stop shop” for gathering and sharing information and data on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation across the Caribbean region. The CRIS platform has been created by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in collaboration with the World Bank and other partners […]

Partnering to support education in Mexico

MapAction is working in close collaboration with our partner CartONG to provide GIS & information management support to UNICEF – another long-term MapAction partner – on an as-needed basis around the world. Working with UNICEF’s head quarters, country offices and partners in different parts of the globe, we are focusing on helping with geospatial data […]

Communicating humanitarian needs and impacts in Eastern and Southern Africa

For over a year, swarms of locusts have been ravaging large parts of rural Africa, affecting different countries at different times. Stripping the land of vegetation and destroying crops and food supplies, the highly destructive pest is causing additional severe food insecurity for communities already struggling to recover from drought and flooding, as well as […]

MapAction contributes to webinar on emerging urban challenges

Two MapAction members contributed to a one-hour discussion of how use of collaborative networks and advances in geospatial technology can improve humanitarian outcomes in urban settings. Professor Melinda Laituri of Colorado State University and the Secondary Cities initiative was Chair of the event, with talks from Alan Mills and Chris Ewing, both of MapAction.   […]

MapAction provides support to Hurricane Eta and Typhoon Goni responses

MapAction teams are in action again, this time providing support to the humanitarian responses to Hurricane Eta in Central America and Tropical Typhoon Goni in South East Asia. Hurricane Eta – A coordinated team of MapAction GIS volunteers is working remotely in support of UN OCHA’s Regional Office for Latin America and Caribbean (ROLAC) as […]

Auction of famous antique map collection

MapAction ambassador Farhad Vladi is a world-renowned collector of antique maps. Over many years, he has travelled the world, seeking out the finest, rarest, and most beautiful examples of early cartography. Now he is putting this incredible collection up for auction, with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting the work of MapAction. Included in the sale is the first map […]

Responding to the Beirut explosion

MapAction personnel began working yesterday on gathering data and producing reference and situational maps for use by first responders and humanitarian teams in Beirut following the devastating explosion that ripped through the city on 4 August. A three-person MapAction team will arrive in Beirut tomorrow or Saturday to provide mapping and data management support to […]

COVID-19 modelling with the Centre for Humanitarian Data

Since March this year, a MapAction data scientist has been based at the Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague, supporting its workstream on predictive analytics. The aim of this important work is to forecast humanitarian emergencies and needs in order to trigger responses before a disaster occurs. One of the projects the Centre’s predictive […]

MapAction strengthens partnership with CartONG

MapAction and CartONG, a French NGO specialised in humanitarian information management, have been working together closely on several projects in recent months. Most recently, we have been providing support to CartONG to help deliver a global information platform for MSF and working with them to provide a national education dashboard for Mexico, as part of […]

Supporting refugees in Northwest Syria

Earlier this year, MapAction was asked by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to send a team to Turkey. Their mission was to provide assistance to humanitarian teams there and in Northwest Syria who are supporting the very large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people that arrived in the region […]

MapAction helps create UK COVID strategic planning system

The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCS EP) is leading a collaborative initiative to establish a UK-wide coordination system for civil society organisations and charities participating in the country’s domestic response to COVID-19. It aims to provide support to people in vulnerable situations who aren’t able to get help locally. The initiative, which is […]

2.6 Challenge success

At the end of April lots of people took part in the MapAction 2.6 Challenge, finding creative and impressive ways to get active using the number 2.6 as a theme while maintaining social distancing. Bouncing, hopping, putting, running, cycling and swimming were some of the activities undertaken, measured in miles, minutes, multiples and – of […]

Helping WHO with mapping in Libya and Chad

MapAction volunteers have been supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) in Libya and Chad to process and map data about health and sanitation services, in order to support the response to COVID-19. The volunteers have been working remotely, alongside each country’s health cluster (networks of WHO partners that work together to relieve suffering and save […]

Join the MapAction 2.6 Challenge

At a time when charities throughout the UK and around the world are being severely impacted by big drops in fundraising income caused by the Corona virus, MapAction is busier than ever before. We’re helping national governments, the UN and humanitarian organisations across the globe make rapid sense of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan the […]

MapAction provides GIS support for MSF’s COVID response

MapAction’s partner Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides rapid-response medical teams to assist in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. On any given day, its staff treats tens of thousands of patients for a variety of illnesses in its medical programmes around the world. MSF is very concerned how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect people in […]

MapAction helps response to Cyclone Harold

While much of the world was focused on battling COVID-19 last week, a powerful tropical cyclone swept through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga, causing significant damage and loss of life. With gusts over 170mph and rainfall of 250-450mm, Tropical Cyclone Harold was the worse storm to hit Vanuatu since Cyclone Pam in 2015, […]

MapAction’s Caribbean network helps prepare for COVID-19

MapAction has been helping its partners the World Food Program (WFP) and Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to distribute mobile app questionnaires about availability of and access to food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past several years, we have been working with CDEMA and other organisations to build a network of GIS professionals […]

Helping UN Asia Pacific COVID-19 response

A MapAction team member currently based in New Zealand is providing GIS, mapping and information management support to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Asia and the Pacific (ROAP). Over the next two months, he will be helping ROAP to support countries that have limited public health infrastructure and resources to […]

MapAction appoints new treasurer

Steve Harper, who works as Charities Director at Hays Macintyre LLP Chartered Accountants, recently joined MapAction’s board as treasurer. Steve acts as auditor and advisor to national and international charities and is co-author of the International Charity Financial Benchmarking Report. He is a qualified chartered accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and […]

MapAction and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team formalise partnership

This week, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalise our ongoing working relationship with our partner Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) at Humanitarian Networks Partnerships Week in Geneva. HOT is an international team dedicated to humanitarian action and community development through open mapping. MapAction and HOT have been collaborating for some time to ensure that humanitarian teams have […]

Geospatial training in Guyana

The latest phase of our collaboration with Unicef and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) of Guyana is currently underway in the country’s capital of Georgetown. We are training CDC volunteers in spatial techniques to help respond as needed across the country, including potential flood response and assisting migrant communities. Participants in this week’s practical training […]

Earthquake exercise in Thailand

Three MapAction volunteers were in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this week, participating in an International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) earthquake simulation exercise involving over 400 participants from 27 countries. The MapAction team provided maps to assist the coordination of the response to the realistic disaster scenario. Thanks to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster […]

Thanks to our outgoing Chair

On 7 December at MapAction’s annual general meeting in Kent, UK, after a phenomenal 12 years of unbroken service on MapAction’s board, Nigel Press (above left) handed the baton to incoming Chairperson Nick Moody. Nigel has been closely involved with MapAction since the very beginning, as International Director, board member, Secretary to the Board and […]

Responding to floods in Djibouti

Two MapAction volunteers are travelling to Djibouti, East Africa, tomorrow at the request of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) to assist the response to devastating floods that have affected up to 250,000 people. Flash floods occurred when two years’ worth of rainfall fell in a single day on top of several days of […]

New partnership with German Federal Foreign Office

MapAction has formed a new partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) Humanitarian Assistance to help improve the use of technology and data in humanitarian decision making. As part of the broad-ranging programme, MapAction is working on greatly reducing the time and effort required to create maps and data products needed in many emergencies, […]

UN On-Site Operations Coordination Centre course in Estonia

Two MapAction members are currently in Tallinn, Estonia, participating in and helping to facilitate a course for UN On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) Assessment and Analysis Cell teams. Participants are looking in detail at ways in which data and analysis can inform fast-moving and chaotic emergency situations. MapAction’s CEO Liz Hughes is also in Tallinn […]

INSARAG earthquake simulation in Azerbaijan

Earier this month, three MapAction volunteers provided mapping and data support to an International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) earthquake simulation exercise in Azerbaijan, known as the Africa-Europe-Middle East (AEME) Regional Earthquake Response Exercise (ERE). Thanks to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance for supporting this important disaster preparedness work.

UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination training

At the end of October, two MapAction volunteers participated in a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) refresher training course in Neuhausen, Germany. As well as presenting to participants on humanitarian mapping, they supported the simulation exercise with mapping. These regular training courses enable all involved to enhance and update their skills and knowledge and […]

Emergency response training in Indonesia

Two MapAction members have just returned from Sentul, Indonesia, where they have been working with our ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) partners to help provide training to new members of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT). Congrats to our 22 new graduates of ASEAN Emergency Response & Assessment Team (ERAT) for conpleting […]

Sharing insights at INSARAG meetings in Chile

This week, a MapAction volunteer has been participating in discussions and strengthening relationships with our partners at the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Information Management Working Group and Team Leaders meetings in Santiago, Chile. These conversations enable us to continuously improve how we visualise data collected by INSARAG teams. Thanks to the USAID […]

Assessing communities’ needs in Afghanistan

After years of conflict, natural disasters and drought, a large proportion of communities in Afghanistan are in crisis and many people have fled their homes in search of safety and security. Since last year, MapAction has been working with partners including REACH and ACAPS in Afghanistan to support country-wide assessments of humanitarian needs, including hard-to-reach […]

Responding to floods in Lao PDR

At the end of August and beginning of September, Tropical Storm PODUL and Tropical Depression KAJIKI caused heavy rain in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. This resulted in flooding in six provinces in the southern part of the country. 1,658 villages across 47 Districts have been affected. A MapAction volunteer is currently working in the […]

Internal displacement crisis in Iraq

A two-person MapAction team is currently in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), working with the humanitarian information initiative REACH. We are supporting REACH to increase understanding of the region’s internal displacement crisis and the needs of those caught up in it. Since the end of military operations, around 4 million […]

More GIS training in Central Asia

Last week a MapAction team was back in Kazakhstan continuing our collaboration with Central Asia’s Center for Emergency Situations & Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR). We were training emergency responders from Shymkent, Kyzylorda, Turkestan & Jambyl in GIS, mapping and data management. The event appeared on local TV news: https://youtube.com/watch?v=OJ5qVpjiH64 (in Kazakh). This week, the training continues with […]

Supporting United Nations training exercise in Indonesia

This week MapAction is in Sentul, Indonesia, to support an induction training course for the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC). As well as supporting an earthquake simulation exercise with mapping, three MapAction members are delivering training on GPS, information management and the use of maps for humanitarian response. MapAction regularly provides training and […]

GIS training for disaster preparedness in Kazakhstan

A programme of training for disaster management teams across Kazakhstan has been continuing this week. Employees of the Department for Emergency Situations of Almaty, the East Kazakhstan and Pavlodar regions have been learning about geographic information systems (GIS), data management and mapping on a course jointly provided by MapAction and the region’s Center for Emergency Situations […]

More training for Caribbean disaster management teams

Two MapAction training courses are in progress in Trinidad & Tobago this week. Three MapAction team members are privileged to be working with members of civil protection response teams from Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Surinam. We are collaborating to share geospatial skills and experiences to support readiness for response to communities. In the region, […]

Training UN staff and partners in Switzerland

Last week, a MapAction team was in Morges, Switzerland, training United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) team members from around the world in humanitarian mapping as part of a two-week intensive induction course. UNDAC training courses take place regularly throughout the year in different countries and MapAction is often involved, providing mapping support to […]

Countdown to the London Marathon

It’s just over a week until the 2019 London Marathon. Five fantastic MapAction runners are making their final preparations for the big race, and some of them are feeling quite nervous. We’re looking forward very much to cheering them on at miles 13 and 22 and celebrating with them when they cross the finish line.

MapAction supports Cyclone Idai response

On Friday 14 March, Cyclone Idai made landfall along the south-eastern coast of Africa. With sustained wind speeds of 120mph and heavy rain, it is now recognised as one of the most intense recorded weather events to hit the region. Many affected areas were already heavily waterlogged, making the overall effect even worse and causing […]

Last chance to join the London Marathon!

We unexpectedly have one space available for this year’s London Marathon on Sunday 28 April. Now’s your chance to trump all your friends’ new years’ resolutions by joining our team of runners taking part in this incredible event!

MapAction Volunteer(s) of the Year

On 1 December, MapAction held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which we looked back over 2018 and thanked our volunteers and members who have given so much to us over the course of the year in order to further our humanitarian work. This year, unusually, two volunteers were named as MapAction Volunteer of the Year.

UN World Geospatial Information Congress

Last week MapAction’s CEO Liz Hughes was in China at the UN’s international forum for global geospatial information management presenting on a panel looking at how we can better prepare for disasters.

Seven days of GIS

To mark GIS Day and celebrate the impact that GIS has in humanitarian work, we’re sharing ‘Seven days of GIS’. Each day for seven days, we’re posting a favourite map or fascinating fact about GIS.

Venezuela economic crisis impacts Guyana

More than two million people have fled the economic crisis in Venezuela. Over the next two months we will be working in Guyana with UNICEF and the Civil Defence Commission of Guyana to help them with mapping and data management to meet the needs of people arriving from Venezuela and the Guyanese communities hosting them.

MapAction and CDEMA working together in the Caribbean

In recent years we have begun working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to help prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies in the Caribbean region. We collaborated around the responses to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and last week’s Tropical Storms. We have also begun […]

Caribbean storms: our response

Storms Isaac, Florence, Joyce and Helene are currently passing across the Caribbean region and Southern USA and we are monitoring and mapping their progress together with forecasts of likely wind speeds, storm surges, flood risks and other hazards.

Helping refugees in Uganda

Around 1.4 million refugees are currently living in 30 settlements in Uganda. Many of them have fled conflict or abuse in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi. MapAction has been helping to assess and map their needs.

New partnership to improve disaster response in Central Asia

The Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR) for Central Asia and MapAction yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise a new joint working relationship. We are collaborating around the use of mapping and information management to improve and expand disaster preparedness, relief and recovery activities across Central Asia.

Roll out of Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters

MapAction’s Chief Executive Liz Hughes recently took part in the Eighth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) at the UN headquarters in New York. She also took part in discussions during a Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters meeting that took place as part of the congress.

AHA Centre and MapAction partner to strengthen disaster management in Southeast Asia

PRESS RELEASE – The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), established by ten Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to facilitate cooperation and coordination of disaster management across the region, has entered into a formal partnership with humanitarian mapping charity MapAction. The Memorandum of Intent was […]

MapAction at SIMEX 2018

On 15-17 May, MapAction played a central role in SIMEX, the UK’s largest international response exercise. More than 3,000 people from a range of national and international emergency response organisations took part in the simulation in Portsmouth, which was also attended by the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt.

Using imagery to best effect in disaster relief

By Alan Mills, MapAction volunteer
Can satellite imagery and UAV data become useful data sources for humanitarian decision making in disaster relief coordination?
Satellite Imagery and data collected by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly promoted as valuable new information sources to aid humanitarian emergency decision making, but how much have things really changed? MapAction is at the forefront of information management delivery on the ground in humanitarian relief, and the choice of which data we use depends on what is best for how to get aid to affected people. Our primary aim is to inform decision making by mapping for people in a crisis, ensuring the best data is timely in delivery to help those affected. Do satellite imagery or data from unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs make a difference in the field yet? We consider the evidence from our perspective.

Caribbean Hurricane Response Mapping Update

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have left a trail of damage and devastation across parts of the Caribbean in the past month. MapAction were able to respond quickly and in numbers to this crisis, with good local knowledge and networks in the region. So far eight MapAction volunteers have supported the response in the field, with […]

MapAction send team to Hurricane Irma in Caribbean

MapAction send a two person Disaster Mapping Team to the Caribbean in readiness for Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane currently moving across the Leeward Islands with widely predicted significant impacts on several countries. 

Sierra Leone mudslide

Torrential rains in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, led to a devastating mudslide resulting in the loss of nearly 500 lives with a further 600 still missing and 3000 people made homeless. The worst affected area was Regent, a mountain area on the outskirts of the capital. Debris was reportedly carried 5km downhill.

Humanitarian Mapping Course

Book now for MapAction’s three-day Humanitarian Mapping Course taking place on Tuesday 31 October-Thursday 2 November 2017. The 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.

Cyclone Donna strikes northern Vanuatu

MapAction continues to monitor Tropical Cyclone Donna in the South Pacific. The storm currently poses a serious threat to Vanuatu and is forecast to make landfall on the northern islands on Friday 5 May.

Devastating floods strike Peru

Intense rains have caused widespread floods and landslides in Peru, reportedly affecting more than half the country. MapAction has deployed at the request of the United Nations.

Cyclone Enawo slams Madagascar

Madagascar has been hit by a major cyclone which is reported to have already claimed at least five lives. It is thought to be the strongest cyclone in thirteen years with wind speeds of up to 185 mph (source: UNOCHA).

Humanitarian mapping course

MapAction is running a course in May to help develop the mapping skills and knowledge for Humanitarian and Development workers using open source software including QGIS and Google Earth.

Wildfires take devastating toll in Chile

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes due to extensive wildfires across central Chile. Drone images show entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of hectares of land have been devastated.

Join the MapAction team in 2017

MapAction’s annual recruitment round for talented volunteers has kicked off again this January. We are looking for people to join our team with skills in GIS, information management, software development and IT administration.

Prince Harry shines a light on MapAction’s work

MapAction has released a video of Prince Harry visiting its volunteers at a major international disaster simulation earlier this year. The video shines a light on our vital work behind the scenes of humanitarian response and invites the public to show their support by making a donation.

Supporting the response to Tanzania earthquake

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.

Humanitarian Mapping Course

Join our three-day course offering training on practical tools and methods proven to help practitioners in disaster preparedness and response in vulnerable countries. Open to all humanitarian and development organisation professionals.

MapAction supports data preparedness in Sri Lanka

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 World Food Programme worked with the government of Sri Lanka to prepare essential data for emergency preparedness and response.

Rapid response for Ecuador earthquake

As the worst earthquake in nearly 40 years devastates parts of the country, two MapAction volunteers deploy to Ecuador following a call for international assistance.

Join the MapAction team in 2016

Please Note – Applications for this recruitment have now ended. We will probably be looking to recruit again towards the end of the year.

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 recruiting@mapaction.org. 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

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

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

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.

Reflecting on MapAction’s Nepal response

MapAction has now completed its humanitarian mapping mission in response to the Nepal earthquakes. Over the course of our four-month mission, 13 volunteers and staff have created more than 110 maps and contributed 230 days of expertise. 

MapAction’s Operations Director, Emma Mumford, reflects: “The challenges for this response have been particularly acute due to the difficult mountainous terrain and the prevalence of landslides during the monsoon season, which quickly followed the earthquakes. The team has achieved a great deal in supporting the coordination and programming of aid for those affected. Although our physical presence in Nepal has come to an end, we remain in close contact with our partners to explore how we can contribute to this and future emergencies.”

You can read Emma’s full supporter update below. 

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MapAction: Nepal earthquake response

“As the Clinical Lead for the UK’s disaster response in Nepal I never failed to be impressed and grateful for the fantastic and invaluable information provided by the MapAction team. Every evening and through the night the MapAction team would input information from our daily recces and create a new map for our recce the next day. I would receive a new map by email in the early hours of the morning and several copies would be left for me at 0600 in the MapAction tent. Fabulous service.”

Dr Sean Hudson, Clinical Lead, UK Emergency Medical Team, UK-Med

Key facts and figures

  • On 25 April 2015, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude hit Nepal.
  • It was the worst natural disaster to strike the country since 1934.
  • More than 8,800 people were killed and more than 23,000 injured.
  • An estimated 450,000 people have been displaced.

Thanks to the support of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) and people like you, MapAction was able to respond immediately. Over the course of our four-month mission, 13 MapAction mapping experts have created more than 110 maps and contributed 230 days of expertise.

How the mission unfolded

On 25 April 2015 Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake, which was followed by further quakes and aftershocks. Within 24 hours of the first earthquake the United Nations (UN) had made an official request for MapAction to deploy with its Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. We were fortunate that one of our MapAction volunteers was on site in Kathmandu and diverted immediately to help. Two further volunteers deployed to Kathmandu the following day.

Dr Hamish Pritchard, one of MapAction’s most experienced volunteers, had been working on a glacier mapping project for his ‘day job’ on the south side of Kathmandu when the earthquake struck. He immediately transferred to the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Base of Operations near the airport to support initial coordination efforts. As one of the first people at the scene, Hamish drew on his experience of helping at other humanitarian emergencies (including the Haiti earthquake) to provide mapped analysis to help coordinate search and rescue efforts.

Map left: Urban Search and Rescue Sectors as of 29 April 2015


As the full scale of the emergency became clear, MapAction sent further volunteers to reinforce the field team. Nigel Woof was one of the first volunteers to arrive in-country. He commented:

“In terms of the scale of this disaster, more than 8,000 are known to have lost their lives with around half a million people estimated to have lost their homes and pretty much everything else. In this respect we are getting flashbacks to the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 where we faced similar issues. We’re trying to create a picture of damage and needs across an affected area about the size of Wales – but imagine a Wales with 5,000-metre peaks and access routes challenged by landslides and earthquake damage.”

Photo right: MapAction volunteer, Nigel Woof, working into the night

With widespread destruction caused by the earthquake, MapAction volunteers lived in tented accommodation positioned outside the United Nation’s coordination hub. This was where incoming responders came to get critical analysis regarding the extent of impact and what other responders were doing in-country. Our initial focus was to help coordinate search and rescue efforts to avoid gaps or duplication. The team also created mapped analysis about the areas which had been worst affected by the earthquake to help prioritise and target the response.

MapAction’s Royal Patron, Prince Harry, sent a message of support for our volunteers working with fellow responders on the humanitarian response in Nepal. He commented: “I have been deeply saddened to hear of the terrible loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake over the weekend. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and the many thousands who have been left homeless as a result of this tragedy.” He went on, “I also wanted to send my sincere thanks and best wishes to all of you who are engaged in the difficult and dangerous job of finding those still missing and supporting the injured.”

From 4 May onwards, MapAction decided to split the team, with some team members travelling to areas of priority need. Three volunteers remained in Kathmandu while two travelled to Chautara and Sindhupalchok close to the earthquake epicentre. Outside the capital, the damage was extensive and all too evident. In Chautara, the hospital had been particularly badly hit, so a temporary field hospital had been set up on a playing field. It was next to this field hospital that international responders set up their coordination hub and where MapAction set up camp.

Photo right: MapAction’s mapping centre in Chautara

Six weeks into the response, MapAction completed its final volunteer rotation for the emergency phase of the mission. Recognising that there was still great humanitarian need, two further MapAction mapping experts were deployed on longer assignments to support assessment and information analysis, working in partnership with ACAPS[1] and OCHA[2] and hosted by the Nepali government. These experts have been providing spatial analysis and mapping know-how to convey critical situational information about the ongoing needs of affected communities.

This second phase of our response coincided with the arrival of the monsoon season, causing landslides and disruption for already vulnerable communities. MapAction’s mapped products and analysis helped responders understand the needs of communities in hard-to-reach locations, many of whom could only be reached via helicopter or porters.

Looking forward, MapAction has also been helping plan for the likely impact of winter for affected communities. Around 150,000 people live in areas where the average January temperature is 5 degrees Celsius or less, making it a priority to ensure that durable shelters are provided before the winter arrives.

The needs remain great in Nepal and MapAction continues to maintain a dialogue with our counterparts in-country, however as of 27 August the MapAction mission has come to an end. MapAction volunteers and staff have been working closely with humanitarian partners to ensure that they have the mapping know-how to be able to carry activities forward without our presence in the field. We are also in discussions with key emergency management teams to explore training requirements to support future responses. So while the mission has come to a close, our partnerships will continue well into the future.

On behalf of everyone at MapAction, thank you for your very kind and generous support. I’m incredibly proud of what our volunteers and staff have achieved for the Nepal earthquake response. I know your support means a great deal to them too. We do not receive any funding through large national appeals, so every penny you donated has made a big difference to our work.

Please do keep up-to-date with MapAction’s news on our website: www.mapaction.org or follow us on Twitter (@mapaction) or Facebook. Thank you again for your support.

Emma Mumford, Operations Director


[1] ACAPS supports and strengthens humanitarian capacities to carry out better coordinated assessments before, during and after crises.

[2] OCHA: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

MapAction wins four Stevie business awards

MapAction is delighted to announce that it has won four Stevie International Business Awards, which will be formally presented on 23 October in Toronto, Canada.

MapAction was recognised in the following categories:

Company of the Year (Non-Profit / Government Organisation) – Gold award (winner)

Management Team of the Year (outside of North America) – Gold award (winner)

Chairman of the Year, Roy Wood – Silver award

Support Team of the Year, MapAction’s Operational Support Team volunteers – Silver award

The Stevie Awards (http://www.stevieawards.com/iba/) were created in 2002 to honour and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide. The name Stevie is taken from the name Stephen, which is derived from the Greek for “crowned.”

More than 3,700 nominations were submitted for Stevie International Business Awards this year. Winners were determined by the average scores of more than 200 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process between May and August 2015.

Comments from the judges on MapAction’s submissions included: “A much needed resource helping those who most need it. Innovative and inspirational” and “An excellent project, much needed in emergencies, with a clearly defined team and impressive accomplishments”.

MapAction’s Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, commented, “It is testament to the dedication, professionalism and creativity of the entire MapAction team – volunteers, trustees and staff – that we have been recognised in all four of the categories that we entered. Every day I am inspired by the incredible team around me. It is very gratifying to know that I am not alone in my admiration of this exceptional team that makes such an important difference to the effective delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Supporting Unicef in Cameroon

MapAction has sent two highly-experienced volunteers to Cameroon to support Unicef’s work with refugees in-country.

According to Unicef, the northern region of Cameroon is hosting over 66,000 refugees from Nigeria. The situation is further compounded by ongoing insecurity which is limiting people’s movements and having an adverse effect on food security. In eastern areas communities are also hosting as many as 139,000 refugees from the ongoing crisis in Central African Republic.

MapAction’s team is working in partnership with Unicef to map strategic areas for humanitarian intervention in affected regions. They will also help strengthen information management capacity in Cameroon by delivering specialist training in humanitarian mapping tools and techniques.

Emma Mumford, MapAction’s Operations Director, commented: “I am very proud that MapAction is supporting this underreported, yet acute humanitarian crisis, contributing to Unicef’s important work supporting vulnerable children in the country and in the region. I hope it will lead to further collaboration in future as the needs are clearly so great.”

[Photo: A MapAction volunteer training Unicef staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2014]

Prince Harry celebrates MapAction’s achievements

MapAction’s patron, Prince Harry, attended a special reception last night to celebrate the charity’s recent achievements, with particular focus on its vital role in the response to the Ebola outbreak.

Prince Harry and fellow guests listened to presentations from MapAction volunteers who had deployed to Sierra Leone for the Ebola Response.

At the event Andy Kervell, MapAction volunteer, talked movingly about his experience of deploying to Sierra Leone to help with the Ebola outbreak. Prince Harry also gave a speech, reflecting on what he had heard, “I’m sure everyone here will share my admiration for the courage shown by MapAction’s volunteers in responding so readily to the Ebola response – this is nothing less than I have come to expect of them over my years as patron.”

Liz Hughes, Chief Executive of MapAction who accompanied Prince Harry at the event added, “From the recent Nepal earthquake to conflict in Yemen, our volunteers have proven time after time that they are willing to respond to increasingly unpredictable and volatile humanitarian crises. The need for our humanitarian mapping service has never been greater. We have the people and the skills to do more – what we lack is the funding. With the support of Prince Harry and fellow guests at our special reception, MapAction can make vital progress in rising to the challenges ahead.”

A copy of the video shown at the event can be viewed here:

{loadposition film004}

For further information on how you can support MapAction’s work, please contact Chloe Browitt on 01494 568899 or email: fundraising@mapaction.org.

Nepal Earthquake – Interactive Mapping

Kathmandu, 13 May – MapAction has been developing a capacity to provide interactive maps for our service users. This enables anyone to interactive with the map by switching on different layers, zooming to the extent that they are interested in. Users can also query the data, save and print button a custom map. This gives greater flexibility and adaptability for service users specific requirements.  

Below are a two interactive maps that have been produced in Nepal.

Village Development Committee (VDC) Map Maker

The Village Development Committee (VDC) Map Maker provides a tool to make a reference map of a VDC with Wards.Click here for the interactive Village Development Committee (VDC) Tool.

How to use 

To locate a District or VDC, click the query icon on the application banner.

The query panel will open which then allows you to query by District Name, District PCode, VDC Name or VDC PCode.

You can then print or save you VDC map to use offline.

Who-What-Where (3W) Village Development Committee (VDC) Map

This map shows the number of activities and agencies per cluster per VDC in the affected areas of Nepal. Click here for the 3W VDC Map

Elevation Profile Viewer

Click here for the Nepal Earthquake Elevation Profile Viewer.

This interactive map shows the elevation for main roads in Nepal.

How to use

Select a feature (road) in the map. Select a feature in the map. show me
NOTE: the feature must be in a layer with Popups enabled.
Use the Measure tools. show me
Hover over or touch the Elevations Profile chart to display elevations and show location on map.

Other Resources

Data published by MapAction can be found on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX). All maps created by MapAction can be found on the Nepal Deployment page. Sign up for a daily digest of the maps created in the field here.

Matched funding opportunity for Nepal response

UK, 28 Apr – MapAction is participating in a matched funding appeal for its response to the Nepal earthquake. Donations made through the Big Give will be doubled. UK taxpayers can further boost the value of their gift by adding Gift Aid. 

To benefit from matched funding, please donate here.

MapAction does not benefit from the DEC appeal, so every penny, dollar or Euro donated will make a big difference to our work.

Thank you.

MapAction mobilises to Nepal

Kathmandu, 26 Apr – A MapAction team has been mobilised in response to a devastating earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that hit Nepal Saturday 12 noon, local time.  One of MapAction’s volunteers was already in Kathmandu and is liaising with the United Nations on mapping needs.

Early indications are several thousand have died, many are still buried under rubble and hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. The extent of the impact of the emergency is still to be fully determined but it is believed to have impacted Nepal’s second city, Pokhara, and mountainous rural areas.  The Government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and Urban Search and Rescue teams are deploying to assist.

MapAction undertook a preparedness mission in 2010 with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ensuring essential data and information was pre identified to help with emergencies like this.

All maps created by MapAction can be found on the Nepal Deployment page.

Sign up for a daily digest of the maps created in the field here.

MapAction responds to crisis in South Sudan

Juba, 17 Mar – Two MapAction volunteers are travelling to South Sudan to provide mapping support for the United Nations and humanitarian partners.

This is MapAction’s second deployment to South Sudan, following an earlier mission in 2014. The situation in-country continues to be of acute concern. Many communities are living in precarious conditions, under threat of conflict and without health services or clean water. The United Nations estimates that 1.5 million people have been displaced and 4.1 million will need life-saving support in 2015.

MapAction’s volunteers will be working with colleagues from the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to support the collection and analysis of key data to help coordinate the response to this protracted and highly complex humanitarian crisis.

MapAction mobilises for Chile floods

Santiago, 27 Mar – MapAction is sending a team of two volunteers at the request of the United Nations and Government of Chile in response to severe flooding in the north of the country.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Atacama and Antofagasta regions where two people have already died and twenty-two are missing. Over 40,000 people are reported to be without drinking water and 53,500 without electricity. People have been asked to self-evacuate. Further heavy rainfall is likely to make conditions even worse. The United Nations team will help with needs and damage assessments.

In the meantime MapAction has also sent a second rotation of personnel to Vanuatu to finalise the organisation’s support there and handover to the United Nations and national mapping focal points.

Rise to the challenge of RideLondon 100

UK, 17 Mar – DEADLINE EXTENDED…..This August test your cycling prowess with the best of them on the 100-mile route made famous by the London 2012 Olympic road race.

The atmosphere on the day was electric. It was such an inspiring experience and wonderful to know I was raising money for such an important cause.” Lucy, past RideLondon participant

Why not apply for a MapAction place for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey event today?

Date: Sunday 2 August 2015

Location: The event starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and follows a 100-mile route on closed roads through London and into the spectacular Surrey countryside.

Registration fee: £50

Sponsorship target: £500

Difficulty level: People of all abilities are welcome, but please be aware that the route involves some challenging hill climbs. Participants are expected to complete the 100-mile route within 8.5 hours.

What support do you get?

  • A dedicated point of contact to help you with your fundraising
  • A support team on the day
  • Well-earned refreshments and a massage to welcome you at the end
  • A branded MapAction cycling top once you’ve raised over £200
  • The knowledge that your fundraising efforts will help deliver our emergency mapping service to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

How to apply: Please complete our short online application form below to register your interest.

Got your own place? We’d love to welcome you to Team MapAction! There is no minimum sponsorship, but if you raise over £200 you too can earn one of our stylish MapAction cycling tops! For more information, please contact Melina on info@mapaction.org or call 01494 56 88 99.

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Mission to Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam

Port Vila, 14 Mar – MapAction is sending two personnel to Vanuatu to help coordinate the response to Cyclone Pam, which struck the South Pacific islands on Friday. The team will be working in partnership with the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams and the National Disaster Management Office to map the needs of affected communities and help coordinate the response.

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu late on Friday night and has caused widespread devastation to homes and livelihoods. The United Nations has described the impact as “catastrophic”.

In particular there are concerns about communities on outlying southern islands, with which communication has been cut. These islands are home to more than 33,000 people and typically have less developed infrastructure. Fears have been raised that communities will have struggled to find adequate shelter to withstand a storm of this magnitude.

This is MapAction’s first emergency deployment to Vanuatu, however the charity has extensive experience of responding to major weather-related emergencies, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines in 2013.

Follow-on deployment to Malawi floods

Lilongwe, 6 Feb – Following our recent deployment to Malawi, MapAction has been requested to send another rotation of mapping specialists to help create a common operational picture of national needs in relation to the ongoing flood emergency.

The MapAction team will be working in partnership with the United Nations’ Information Management team in Lilongwe to help clean, verify and compile accurate data about the national response. They will in particular be responsible for creating mapped analysis and infographics to support key decision-making.  Within this, MapAction will play an important role in helping to coordinate how information is shared between field teams and the main coordination centre.

According to the latest reports (4 February) from the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination team in Malawi, over 1 million people have been affected by the floods of whom 336,000 have been displaced and are having to find shelter in temporary camps or with host families. At least 104 people are thought to have died.

Responding to floods in Malawi

Lilongwe, 16 Jan – MapAction has sent two volunteers and one staff member to Malawi at the request of the United Nations and Malawi government to assist with the response to severe flooding.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 70,000 people have been displaced and 48 killed by extensive floods caused by recent heavy rain (as of 14 January). The floods have also caused widespread damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure. Initial assessments indicate that the southern districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Zomba have been particularly badly affected.

It is anticipated that MapAction’s volunteers will work within the UN’s central coordination hub in Lilongwe, but they may also travel to affected areas to assist with assessments. The charity’s Technical Director, Andy Smith, is joining the volunteer team to support the first use of MapAction’s new web mapping capability in a live emergency following extensive development and testing in scenario training situations.

The President of the Republic of Malawi has declared a State of Emergency in the 15 affected districts and appealed to the international community for assistance in search-and-rescue expertise, as well as the provision of tents, food and non-food items.

This is MapAction’s first emergency deployment to Malawi, however the charity provided training in GIS and GPS* for disaster response for Malawian government agencies in 2008. Malawi is also one of the focus countries for MapAction’s preparedness activities – Resilient Action for Mapping Preparedness (RAMP). These earlier preparations have resulted in much quicker access to relevant data to support this emergency response. You can read more on RAMP here.

* GIS – Geographical Information Systems / GPS – Global Positioning System

Our volunteers in action – Mali and Ghana

West Africa, 22 Dec – Two volunteers have been in action in West Africa recently helping with the efforts against Ebola – Alan Mills in Mali and KirstyFerris in Ghana. 

The Mali government asked for international assistance to prepare for the possibility of a widening Ebola outbreak after six people were infected, one of them the person who had brought the virus from Guinea. Alan joined the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team already there. He reports that the mission was about understanding the priorities for information management in Ebola preparedness, identifying what was already in place and  clarifying requirements in response to a possible further outbreak. One aspect of this included documenting all available relevant data and establishing a framework for the place codes and typical mapping we produce to clarify gaps in response. MapAction has now been asked to send a consolidation mission to Mali and it is likely that a volunteer will depart on 10 January. Alan says “Bamako will be very hot in January but it’s an interesting city and there’s good will from the Malians and their international partners here to co-operate and build something strong.” The Mali government is establishing an Ebola Operations Centre, which could be used for other emergencies. 

Alan coordinates our Resilient Action for Mapping Preparedness project (RAMP) that started with a pilot in Southern Africa in 2012. The project aims to develop the capacity for mapping preparedness within government bodies responsible for emergency response and is targeted at countries with a high likelihood of disasters. It aims to improve their information management by providing tools, guidelines and training in collaboration with agencies; technical, GIS and information specialists. To reinforce whatever we do we have identified the need to work with intermediary organisations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Caribbean and are in discussion with the World Food Programme in Asia Pacific. 

Liz Hughes, chief executive of MapAction says, “The Mali mission has given us the opportunity to apply the methodology of our RAMP project and demonstrate the value of preparedness work.” 

In Ghana, Kirsty Ferris has just completed a two-week volunteer mission working with the United Nations Ebola Emergency Response Mission (UNMEER), working to strengthen the data management structure for the regional response to the crisis. UNMEER is tasked to provide leadership and coordination in collaboration with the host governments across all three of the most affected countries. Kirsty followed Darren Connaghan’s one month paid mission; when he began the information management structure was minimal and required considerable coordination with many information management specialists across the region. This is the first time in recent years that MapAction has been involved in a regional mission at this level. 

How mapping worked in fighting Ebola

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.

Run the London Marathon for MapAction

UK, 15 Dec – Final chance to run the London Marathon for MapAction! The charity has been lucky enough to secure guaranteed places in the Virgin London Marathon for next April. You can find out more about what it means to join Team MapAction and register your interest at: www.mapaction.org/marathon.

Places are limited, so please register by 12pm GMT Wednesday 17 December to be in with a chance of joining Team MapAction!

MapAction continues to support Ebola response

Bamako and Accra, 10 Dec – In response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa, MapAction has deployed two further skilled volunteers to the region – bringing the total deployed since September to 13.

Following on from an earlier mission, a MapAction volunteer has deployed to Ghana to support the regional response being coordinated by United Nations’ Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). UNMEER is the first ever UN mission for a public health emergency and has the stated aims of stopping the spread of the disease, treating infected patients, ensuring essential services, preserving stability, and preventing the spread of Ebola to unaffected countries. Although progress has been made in establishing treatment centres and tracing transmission routes, it remains a priority to establish the information flows and data management structure which is where MapAction’s expertise will be of particular benefit.

A second volunteer has deployed to Mali to help government authorities prepare for the risk of a future Ebola outbreak. Although 8 cases have already been reported in Mali, thus far they have been successfully contained. This mission is therefore to provide expertise in data preparedness and emergency mapping skills so that authorities can establish an Emergency Operations Centre and are prepared to respond if a more significant outbreak ensues.

According to the World Health Organization, 17,145 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases have been reported within this current Ebola outbreak up to the end of 30 November 2014. There have been 6,070 reported deaths.

Jonny Douch, MapAction’s Operations Director, commented: “I am incredibly proud that, as most of the UK busies itself with preparing for Christmas, two MapAction volunteers are stepping up to help in the ongoing battle against Ebola. Both missions will be strategically important. The role within UNMEER will be pivotal in getting to grips with the current outbreak, and the Mali deployment is an exciting opportunity to put measures in place before the situation in-country escalates. In both cases, I am sure that MapAction’s volunteers will make an important difference in helping to tackle this devastating health emergency.”

Match funding opportunity goes live

UK, 8 Dec – Matched funds are still available!

Thank you to all our supporters who have donated via the Big Give Christmas Challenge. So far we have raised over £7,000 including matched funds and Gift Aid – a fantastic result! Matched funding is still available, so if you were not able to give earlier, there is still the opportunity to double your donation via: MapAction – The Big Give. Thank you for your support.

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From 10am GMT on Thursday 4 December supporters have the chance to double their donation to MapAction thanks to matched funding provided by Esri UK and the Big Give.

A £10 donation could become £22.50 once you add matched funds and Gift Aid*.

Matched funds are limited and will be released in tranches at 10am GMT on Thursday 4, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December. To be in with the best chance of doubling their donation, MapAction supporters are encouraged to sign up for a reminder email using the form below.

All donations should be made via MapAction – The Big Give.

On behalf of all the staff and volunteers at MapAction, thank you for any support you can give.

MapAction would also like to thank Esri UK and the Big Give for enabling the charity to benefit from this exciting fundraising opportunity. Such support is always vitally important, but particularly at the moment with MapAction’s key role in the Ebola response across West Africa.

* Gift Aid can only be claimed on donations from UK taxpayers

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Reflections on the Ebola outbreak

Freetown, 19 Nov – The following reflections on the Ebola outbreak were written by Andy Kervell, MapAction’s Team Leader in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They were originally drafted to update friends and family members on the team’s progress in the field. Any opinions are Andy’s own.

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On my arrival in Freetown I couldn’t help but be struck by the heartbreaking stories of loss, pain and misery from the communities affected by this terrible virus. This must in some ways be on a par with the horror stories following the Sierra Leonean civil war. This battle though is against one of nature’s most lethal biological weapons, and here in Sierra Leone it really is being treating by the government and population like being at war.

MapAction is working out of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) in Freetown, which has been set up to coordinate and support the courageous efforts of the many medical and support staff (cleaners, ambulance drivers, burial teams included) battling it out on the front line. They all deserve a medal and the world’s respect for the personal risk they are accepting in carrying out their essential work.  In our back office function we don’t feel at any risk – the only thing is that you have to wash your hands every time you enter a building and have your temperature taken.

Working within the NERC, the daily routine involves a number of meetings and briefings, covering subjects ranging from ambulance distribution to the implementation of burial policies. It is not easy debating distressing subjects like ‘dead body management’, but is essential that such things are done with the professionalism and dignity required to generate the right support, action and authority.

So what role has MapAction played in all of this? Like many emergencies, information management and its visualisation plays such a key role in the response. Fighting the spread of the virus is as much about information management as it is logistics and epidemiology. The processing of data about a suspected case, from the call to the 117 helpline set up to report possible cases, through to their isolation, the laboratory testing of their samples, subsequent treatment, and unfortunately in some cases, the safe burials, must be recorded and collated.

MapAction has been advising the NERC team on how such information can be best managed, and how to visualise it in useful ways. This then provides experts such as the UK epidemiologists, the World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control (CDC) with essential information about how the virus is spreading, its rate of infection and how the country is implementing the control measures required. Key indicators such as number of cases, treatment beds available, safe burials within 24 hours, etc are all being reported daily to the NERC. Bringing these numbers down below target levels is essential in slowing transmission rates and therefore stemming the spread of the virus.

MapAction’s field team has presented its maps to the Sierra Leone President and Minister of State for Defence and the British High Commissioner at various briefings, so we certainly have been in the thick of it! It was very heartening to hear Palo Conteh, Chief Executive of the NERC, comment on one of our presentations: “This is a fantastic picture. I can sit here and see everything.”

Freetown itself is an amazing city, clinging Rio-esque to the steep hills plummeting towards the Atlantic Ocean, it makes for a really spectacular journey from our lodgings to the office each day. The roads are fairly chaotic and full of enormous pot holes, and you see from the houses by the roadside the limited development of this country.

However life appears to be carrying on, although it is apparently much quieter than normal owing to the fear of Ebola. Large gatherings have been banned, so spectator sports such as football games, and even the Hash House Harriers have been postponed. There is a growing frustration in the community that they would like to get back to normal. But unfortunately for this country, already blighted by poverty, it will be many months yet before this occurs.

I will have to return quickly back to everyday life after my two-week deployment is up, but the mission will have a lasting memory and impact on my life. This, though, is what being part of MapAction is all about and it is again a privilege to represent such a great charity and perform its role as we have been trained to do. Hopefully our short input will have some positive impact to the response, and this amazing country and people will be rid of this terrible virus.

Responding to Ebola in Sierra Leone

Freetown, 22 Oct – Following on from the charity’s recent deployment to Liberia, MapAction has deployed a highly experienced team to Sierra Leone to help coordinate the response to the Ebola outbreak there. The team will provide mapping support to the Ebola Operations Centre in Freetown. The deployment has been primarily funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The Ebola outbreak is unprecedented in scale and geographical scope. Not only has it already claimed thousands of lives, but it is also impacting on the security, economy and livelihoods of communities across the affected countries. Within this complex and challenging context MapAction’s mapped situational analysis can help make the response as targeted and effective as possible.

Jonny Douch, MapAction’s Operations Director, commented: “This deployment follows quickly from our recent mission to Liberia. The needs are great and the situation is extremely complex. I am very proud that MapAction’s volunteers continue to step up to the plate and offer their skills in this most challenging of emergencies. This is a tremendous opportunity to support the work of national and international organisations, including many from the UK public sector, to scale up activities and overcome this deadly disease.”

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“Highly commended” at Third Sector Awards

UK, 30 Sep – MapAction is delighted to have been “highly commended” as a finalist at the Third Sector charity awards earlier this month. The commendation was in recognition of MapAction’s response to Typhoon Haiyan under the category “Small Charity Big Achiever”.

MapAction’s Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, commented: “While the focus of this nomination was our response to Typhoon Haiyan, it celebrated the remarkable commitment and can-do attitude of all our volunteers in so many challenging emergency situations every year.  Receiving this recognition under the banner “Small Charity, Big Achiever” underlines the vital difference this small volunteer team makes within global humanitarian response.”

MapAction deploys to Liberia for Ebola response

Monrovia, 17 Sep – MapAction has deployed a team of two volunteers and its Chief Executive to Monrovia in response to the Ebola outbreak which has spread across West Africa. The team will be working in partnership with the United Nations and International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP) to help coordinate the national and international response to this medical emergency.

As of 7 September, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected cases in West Africa stood at 4,366, with 2,218 deaths across Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Of these countries, Liberia has been particularly hard-hit.

The demand for treatment far outstrips the medical facilities currently available. Anecdotal reports indicate that as soon as an Ebola treatment centre is opened, more patients arrive than can be treated. WHO staff have confirmed there are currently no free beds for Ebola treatment anywhere in Liberia. When patients are turned away from treatment centres, they have no choice but to return to their communities and homes, where they risk infecting others and perpetuating the spread of the virus.

Liz Hughes, MapAction’s Chief Executive, commented: “There can be no doubt: the spread of Ebola is a humanitarian emergency of the highest order. MapAction is working with strategic partners to ensure there is a concerted and coordinated response to this virus that has already tragically claimed so many lives. The situation on the ground is extremely complex. MapAction will provide its unique surge mapping expertise to help responders understand the needs of affected communities, so they can target their response effectively.”

This is MapAction’s first emergency deployment to Liberia, although it provided specialist training in mapping health priorities for Merlin in 2005.

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Small Charity, Big Achiever award nomination

UK, 11 Aug – MapAction is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted for a Third Sector award in the “Small Charity, Big Achiever” category. The award recognises the achievements of small charities that have made a substantial impact on national or international life.

MapAction’s nomination focuses on the charity’s response to Typhoon Haiyan last November, for which a team pre-deployed to the Philippines before the typhoon made landfall. The award winner will be announced on 18 September in London. The full list of shortlisted charities is available at Third Sector Excellence Awards shortlist 2014.

MapAction’s Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, commented: “It is an honour for MapAction to have been shortlisted for the Small Charity, Big Achiever award. This award really sums up what MapAction is all about and is a celebration of the tireless efforts of our volunteers and staff who make such an important impact on the efficient delivery of humanitarian aid.

We congratulate the other charities shortlisted for awards and look forward to celebrating our achievements with them at the awards ceremony in September.”

MapAction SupporterNews

UK, 4 Aug – The latest edition of SupporterNews is out and can be downloaded here – SupporterNews.

As you will read, since the beginning of the year MapAction volunteers have deployed to emergencies in South Sudan, Paraguay, Serbia and Iraq, affecting the lives of millions of people.  We remain on standby to help wherever our skills are needed in the world.

MapAction volunteer Richard Hartley also tells us about his recent training mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather exactly 100 years earlier.

We also update you on how we’re scaling up our activities to achieve key targets for our ambitious new strategy. The support of people like you will be vital if we are to achieve our goal of doubling our operational capacity over the next five years. Please do help spread the word about MapAction’s work, so we can do more to help in more humanitarian emergencies.

Thank you, as always, for your much-valued support. We hope you enjoy reading this latest SupporterNews.

If you wish to find out about new deployments or other activities, please subscribe to our newsletter at www.mapaction.org/newsletter.