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 sytem

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: (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 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. 


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: 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 ( 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:

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

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 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:

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.


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.


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.”

Click here for the deployment map catalogue

Sign up here for the latest map alerts

“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

MapAction responds to Iraq crisis

Erbil, 30 Jun – MapAction has deployed two volunteers to Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq to support the humanitarian response to widespread conflict across northern and central areas of the country.

MapAction’s volunteers are deploying in support of a United Nations’ team to help collate and disseminate key data about the crisis. In this complex and evolving situation, it is anticipated that the initial focus will be working with other organisations to develop, share and maintain data standards, so all humanitarian actors are using the same administrative boundaries and codes. The team will produce reference maps and templates to help support assessment and thematic mapping. It is also likely that MapAction’s 3W maps (“Who is doing What and Where?”) will play an important role in helping to coordinate the response.

Over the course of recent months, pockets of violence have escalated to widespread conflict across northern and central Iraq. According to UN reports, half a million people have fled Mosul and tens of thousands have fled the governorates of Diyala and Salah ad-Din.

Most internally displaced people (IDPs) have been forced to flee with few or no resources to sustain themselves in the long term. Initial UN assessments indicate that many are staying in the open and urgently need water, food, shelter and latrines. Humanitarian agencies are therefore prioritising the delivery of food, water, tents and other essential supplies for those affected.

MapAction’s Chief Executive, Liz Hughes, commented: “This is a very complex and volatile situation, which presents many significant challenges for humanitarian responders. MapAction’s volunteers will be working at the heart of the response to help coordinate the planning and delivery of emergency aid. Their efforts behind the scenes will help bring relief to thousands of people whose lives have been turned upside-down by this devastating conflict.”

Photo Credit: OCHA

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Building mapping capacity in DRC

Goma, 23 Jun – MapAction has recently completed a two-week training mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two mapping professionals deployed to Goma in the east of the country, which has suffered from civil war, volcanic eruptions and the presence of rebel groups in recent years.  The team was based at UNICEF’s offices in the city, with the aim of building capacity for humanitarian mapping both within UNICEF and partner organisations. In addition, the mission aimed to review existing mapping and data management processes within UNICEF.

MapAction ran two separate training courses – an Introduction to Geographical Information Systems and Spatial Analysis. A total of 32 delegates from UNICEF and 11 partner organisations attended the training.

A final report containing recommendations to improve map production processes, data management and to promote the use of geographical information within decision-making has been provided to UNICEF.

MapAction deploys to floods in Paraguay

ASUNCION, 16 Jun – Two MapAction volunteers have deployed to Paraguay to support the coordination of relief efforts following extensive flooding.

Days of sustained heavy rains have caused the Paraguay and Parana rivers to swell, leading to widespread floods across three departments, including the capital, Asunción. According to reports from the United Nations, approximately 160,000 people have been affected. Rain is forecast to continue to several weeks, so there are concerns that the situation could deteriorate further.

MapAction’s volunteers will initially support the United Nations’ relief efforts from Asunción, but may subsequently travel to other affected areas.

This is the charity’s second deployment to Paraguay, following a response to flooding in 2012. Jonny Douch, MapAction’s Operations Director commented: “With the eyes of the world on Brazil for the World Cup, it is poignant to think that its neighbour is experiencing such devastating floods. Within hours of receiving the request from the United Nations, we had our team selected and operational equipment ready to deploy. I know our volunteer team are looking forward to contributing their mapping expertise to help get people’s lives back together as quickly as possible.”

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Photo Credit:

MapAction deploys to Balkan floods

Belgrade, 19 May – MapAction has deployed a skilled volunteer to Belgrade to help coordinate the response in Serbia of widespread flooding in the Balkans.

The area has been affected by sustained rainfall, which has resulted in what are thought to be the worst floods in 120 years with four months of rainfall in just one day. Several people are known to have died but the fall extent will not be clear until the flood waters start to recede.

The situation has been further exacerbated by landslides and damage to roads and infrastructure. As of 17 May, more than 6,000 people have been evacuated, but it is estimated that over 50,000 people may have been affected, and 115,000 homes have been left without electricity.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated in response to the emergency. Member states have agreed to provide rescue boats and helicopters to support the evacuation of residents and the transportation of water, medicines and food. Operational staff and high capacity pumping equipment have also been deployed.

MapAction’s volunteer will be working in partnership with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team from their coordination centre in Belgrade. The team will provide information to assess the extent of the flooding, affected population, infrastructure damage and humanitarian needs, vital to assist humanitarian providers in their response.

This is MapAction’s second emergency deployment to the Balkans, following a mission to Albania to help with flooding in 2010. The charity continues to monitor the situation in Bosnia, Croatia and other potentially affected parts of Europe, and is ready to send further assistance as required.

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[Image: Serbia floods c Elvis Barukcic  AFP Getty Images May 2014]

Building resilience in Palestine

West Bank, 17 Apr – MapAction has recently concluded a mission to the occupied Palestinian territory in partnership with the United Nations. The mission aimed to strengthen national and international planning for disasters or other crises in the territory.

The complex geopolitical situation in the region makes local communities particularly vulnerable to consequences of natural disasters, such as the severe flooding experienced last year.

MapAction’s volunteer spent two weeks working with the UN team in the West Bank and Gaza to research recommendations for contingency planning and long term institutional strengthening for disaster response. Their findings were presented to the Palestinian Authority and humanitarian agencies in the region at the end of the mission.

RideLondon 100 bike ride for MapAction

UK, 5 Feb – Be part of something amazing this August. You can test your cycling prowess with the best of them on the 100-mile route made famous by the London 2012 Olympic road race.

Lucy took part in the event last year: “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.”

Date: 10 August 2014

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

Registration fee: £50. This contributes to the cost of your place and your MapAction cycling top.

Minimum sponsorship: £500, but don’t worry – we will support you with fundraising help and advice.

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 9 hours.

What do you get for your money?

  • A branded MapAction cycling top
  • A dedicated point of contact to support you with your fundraising
  • A support team to help you on the day
  • Well-earned refreshments and a massage to welcome you at the end
  • 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.

Please Note: All spaces have been filled.

MapAction deploys to South Sudan

Juba, 24 Jan – MapAction has deployed two mapping experts to South Sudan at the request of the United Nations.

Wide-spreading fighting has extended across the country, affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians.  The crisis is exacerbating what was already a challenging humanitarian situation, with 4.4 million people requiring humanitarian assistance prior to recent violence.

According to United Nations’ statistics, an estimated 413,000 people have been internally displaced as a result and over 74,000 more have fled to neighbouring countries (as of 14 January). Aid agencies believe that the number of internally displaced people could be much higher, as insecurity and logistical constraints have prevented relief workers from travelling outside towns.

New pockets of displacement are being reported daily, making it a very difficult environment for aid agencies to plan and implement their response.

MapAction’s mapping experts will be working in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other humanitarian responders to help assess the humanitarian impact of the violence and aid priorities. In particular, they will create a common operational picture of the locations and needs of displaced people.

South Sudan Map Catalogue

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The SNAP team explains the aim of the project

UK, 23 Jan – Since December 2012, MapAction has been partnering with ACAPS (Assessment Capabilities Project) to assess the needs of affected communities and develop possible future scenarios, based on what we currently know.

The aim of this collaboration is to equip humanitarian responders and donors with accurate, timely information, so their response can be as targeted and effective as possible. Our collaborative effort is known as the Syria Needs Assessment Project or “SNAP”. You can find out more about this activity by watching this short video prepared by ACAPS.

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All the SNAP products can be found here – Syria Resources

OBE for former CEO

UK, 6 Jan – Nigel Woof has received an OBE in the New Years Honours List for Humanitarian Services as Chief Executive of MapAction.  Nigel joined MapAction, the Buckinghamshire based charity, as a volunteer in April 2003 and quickly showed special talents during early deployments to Sri Lanka for the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the Pakistan earthquake in 2005. He became the Operations Director in 2007 and then Chief Executive in 2009.

Nigel has shown an exceptional understanding of relief needs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and the initiative and ability to devise and produce a variety of maps to provide a “common operational picture” which plays a major part in coordinating the many UN and international organisations involved in the response.  His leadership and organisation has been a significant factor in the service delivered by the MapAction team.

Although he handed over his role as Chief Executive in January 2013 he remains a very active MapAction volunteer and has just returned from the Philippines where he, along with other MapAction volunteers, prepared information maps to assist the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team in the aftermath of one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the Philippines.

Nigel’s immediate reaction:

“It’s exciting of course, but also humbling to be singled out. Really the award should be for the whole MapAction team, most of them volunteers and all amazing people, to recognise their joint endeavour in so many disasters over the past decade. I’ll also be raising a New Year’s glass to all the unsung heroes in humanitarian aid agencies we’ve worked with across the world, whose collective commitment never stops.”

MapAction concludes its mission to the Philippines

Philippines, 18 Dec – MapAction has concluded its final rotation of people to the Philippines to provide mapping support to the humanitarian response after six weeks and nearly two hundred mission days. Fifteen of MapAction’s volunteers generously gave their time to assist based initially in Manila and then in Tacloban, one of the worst affected areas. Unusually for MapAction, each team consisted of four to five people for the majority of the mission demonstrating the extent of need for mapped analysis.  MapAction provided detailed information to Region VIII (in which Tacloban is located) and in parallel, provided overview information to the humanitarian community.

Initially producing reference maps and situational analysis maps, and working on sharing data with other information management providers, MapAction introduced an automated three W mapping series building on the manual system previously used. These maps describe Who, What, Where of the humanitarian response for each sector in every district (seventeen districts and eleven sectors in total).  This series, the first of its kind for MapAction was updated twice a week generating several hundred maps a week. In addition maps for cash programming  (including the distribution of market assessments) and the demographics of the affected population have been produced indicating the move from the life saving and immediate relief distribution activities of the earliest stages of an emergency to the recovery and vulnerability targeting activities of the next stage of the response.  

MapAction is currently completing its monitoring and evaluation process and will undertake an internal lessons learned exercise with its team in January.  A report will be available on the website in February.

MapAction thanks the employers who willingly released their staff at very short notice to form the team of professional volunteers MapAction deployed to the Philippines humanitarian response.

There are benefits potentially both ways.  As one employer said,

“This has been probably the most motivating thing for my team all year. Just knowing that in a small way we were helping to get Darren there we felt part of it too. This year, we specifically worked at getting the work he does for Argyll manageable so that he could be deployed at short notice, plus Landmark HR really came through with offering time off.”

Jez Nicholson, Argyll Environmental

Without this support MapAction could not do what it does. We are grateful to: Argyll Environmental, Calesurvey, Environment Agency, EPA (Environmental Protection AgencyESRI UK, Exprodat, Harrow Council,  Landmark Information Group, Sinclair Knight Merz, Sustain, UwArc (Underwater Archaeology).

Reflections on Haiyan

Philippines, 16 Dec – An update from MapAction Operations Director, Jonny Douch who deployed early in the emergency.

On 7 November MapAction deployed to the Philippines, the day before Typhoon Haiyan struck. Although we all knew it was likely to affect vulnerable communities, none of us could have predicted the scale of the devastation that followed.

Photo right: Survivors of the storm arrive in Manila on a US military C130. Every plane out of Tacloban was full of people leaving the city

It soon emerged that the area that had borne the brunt of the typhoon was around Tacloban City. I headed there amongst the cargo in a US military plane to assess how and where MapAction could help most. I arrived in the dark.

Photo left: Jonny, Operations Director flying amongst the cargo in the first available flight to Tacloban

The scene that greeted me was like something out of a disaster movie. The terminal building had been smashed by a massive wave that had carried off everyone who was trying to get a flight out. All was dark confusion. The noise from the planes made it all but impossible to hear and phone calls virtually impossible.

As we headed into the city, the car headlights lit up a shattered landscape where the storm surge had swept through. Everything was still now. It was an eerie scene, with just a few lonely soldiers at the road blocks to wave us past. It was impossible to see how anybody could have survived here. Bodies were still being recovered from the debris; body bags lined the side of the road awaiting collection.

My first task in Tacloban was to set up MapAction’s base within the United Nations’ coordination centre, where responders would come for the latest information to coordinate relief efforts. It was particularly poignant to reflect on the fact that most of the local people we were working with had lost friends or family. Although you try not to think of these things while you’re there, when you get home you have time to reflect on the immense loss you have witnessed.

The number of organisations arriving was increasing every day, all hungry for the sort of information MapAction was there to provide. The demands on our team were extreme. By the end of this mission, we will have deployed 15 mapping experts, who will have together contributed over 30 weeks of work. We will have produced well over 1,000 different mapped products, which will have been distributed to thousands of responders via web and printed copies. These figures don’t include the efforts our non-deployed volunteers, who have provided unfaltering support throughout– many of whom have taken time off their day jobs to devote their full-time attention to supporting our field team.

1 and 2: United Nations’ On Site Operations and Coordination Centre, a tent inside a roofless building

3: The tents where MapAction set up home

4: Standing up: Inter-agency coordination meeting
5. A scene from the roadside

When I returned to Tacloban airport, two weeks had passed since the typhoon had struck. It was daylight. Although if anything the destruction was clearer by day, life was reclaiming the land again. Everywhere people were busy clearing up and bringing order to the chaos.

Photo above: the road to the airport

The airport was now functioning well, although it was a surreal experience to check in and go through security amidst the destruction. Passengers sat in a departure lounge with no wall and just umbrellas to protect from them the rain. We placed our hands over our ears to block out the noise from the military planes delivering aid.

The determination of the staff and passengers to make it work was a moving sight – surely a sign that although the people of the Philippines may never forget Typhoon Haiyan, their remarkable courage and resilience will help them recover from this terrible storm.

Photos above: Normal service resumes at Tacloban airport

Typhoon Haiyan update

Philippines, 9 Dec – MapAction has deployed its final rotation of 4 mapping experts to Tacloban, who will hand over to a United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) team on 18 December. By the end of this mission, MapAction will have deployed 15 staff and volunteers to help with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda).

MapAction has had a team on the ground since before the storm struck, with the first team of two people arriving in the early hours of 8 November. Over the course of the mission, MapAction volunteers have produced a wide range of maps, including Who, What, Where maps i.e. maps which demonstrate which organisations are working where.

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Map Catalogue

Philippines Big Give Appeal

Philippines, 12 Nov – MapAction has launched a matched giving appeal to support our emergency efforts in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Every £1 you donate through the Big Give will be matched, thereby doubling the value of your donation (up to a limit of £1,000 per donor).

Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines on 8 November. Its severity was unprecedented, with gusts of wind recorded at up to 235 mph. Official estimates are that more than 9.6 million people have been affected by the disaster. Many have lost loved ones and everything they own. They have no food, clean water, medicine or shelter. Bodies have been left in the fields and by the sides of roads, which add to the risk of disease. It is feared that some 10,000 people may have died in one province alone.

MapAction is working around the clock to help identify the needs of survivors, so they get the help they need as quickly as possible. We deployed a team of volunteers to the Philippines before the typhoon struck, so they could set to work as soon as it had passed. As the full scale of the emergency becomes apparent, we now need to deploy more skilled mapping experts to the region to help the millions of people affected.

Please give what you can today and make your donation go further through this fantastic matched giving opportunity.

Super typhoon Haiyan slams Philippines

Philippines, 8 Nov – A category 5 ‘super’ typhoon (Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda) has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility and is due to make landfall on the east of the country Friday 8th November.  Haiyan was assessed as having sustained wind speeds of 225kph with gusts of 250 kph near its centre and is travelling at a speed of 33kmh. Eastern Visayas, likely to be first impacted has a population of 4.1m. The storm is predicted to track across the country exiting the evening of November 8th on the west coast of the country.

The Philippine public authorities are making evacuation and prepositioning plans particularly for people in lowlying or mountainous areas where floods, landslides and storm surges are likely. An advanced UN Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been requested to assist the national authorities and will arrive the morning of 8th November. Two members of MapAction are deploying alongside and are en route today.

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Map Catalogue

(Photo: Reuters)

Interested in running for MapAction?

UK, 11 Nov – Interested in running the London Marathon for MapAction next April? MapAction is delighted to announce it has a limited number of places available for the London Marathon 2014.

We ask our runners to commit to raising at least £1,500 and pay a £100 registration fee to secure their place. In return, you will receive a branded MapAction running top and have access to our post-race reception room, where you can enjoy a well-earned massage and refreshments. We support our runners every step of the way with their training, fundraising and on the big day itself. We would love you to join the team.

Places are in high demand for this prestigious event, so if you’re interested in running for MapAction, please complete the following form – MapAction London Marathon 2014 – by Friday 22 November and we will get right back to you.

Following in the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin

India, 4 Nov – Cyclone Phailin made landfall in India on 12th October severally impacting the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Rapid action by the Indian Government and State authorities to evacuate half a million people, meant that the number of mortalities was low. However 13 million people have been affected with an estimated 1.7 million severely affected. Houses and infrastructure have been destroyed and livelihoods interrupted. MapAction deployed a team of two from Scotland on Saturday 2nd November.

Alistair Wilkie and Felicity Cross will work with two consortia of International Non-Government organisations (including Christian Aid, Action Aid, Care, Save the Children, Oxfam and others), in support of the Indian authorities response to the disaster. The team will also support the wider humanitarian community as requested. They will travel to Odisha to meet with assessment teams including the Sphere India team. It is likely that a team rotation will be required given the scale of this emergency.

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Map Catalogue

Investing in Humanitarian Information

UK, 29 Oct – 2012 was a significant year for MapAction as it celebrated ten years of mapping expertise. The year’s annual review reflects on those ten years, the achievements of the organisation during them and the invaluable support the organisation has enjoyed from a wide range of donors throughout. The review also looks forward, anticipating the strategic opportunities for the future both for the organisation and for its supporters. We hope it will inspire current and future supporters to join us.

Download: MapAction Annual Review 2012

Prince Harry attends ambassador launch

UK, 30 Sep – Prince Harry, MapAction’s Royal Patron, attended a reception on Thursday evening (26th September) at the Royal Society, London. The launch of an ambassador programme was the main focus of the event to further engage long term support for MapAction’s future. The function also provided an opportunity to give recognition and thanks to existing donors committed to supporting the organisation’s work.

MapAction simulated a field operation and demonstrated the organisations’ role in a mock earthquake based on past deployments. Prince Harry congratulated the MapAction team of many volunteers on their achievement in deploying to over 40 emergency missions during the past 11 years, helping millions of people affected by disaster. Prince Harry said: ‘I was struck by their willingness to drop everything at a moment’s notice – despite the fact that I would do that in my job – and step into the heart of a crisis no matter where it is in the world, leaving loved ones behind.’ He added: ‘These are extraordinary people in this extraordinary organisation and I am proud to be Patron.’

Liz Hughes, MapAction’s Chief Executive said: ‘ Prince Harry’s patronage of MapAction is a highly valuable contribution for an organisation of our size. Unique events such as this reception offer the perfect opportunity to attract new donors and it also allows us to express our thanks to all those involved with helping reach people in their time of urgent need. We are especially grateful for Prince Harry’s interest in meeting our donors who are an enormous part of enabling the service we provide.’

For further information on our ambassador programme please contact Mim or Chloe on 01494 568899 or email:

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Flash Flooding support in Sudan

Sudan, 18 Sep – Heavy rain and flash floods in several areas of Sudan have affected up to 530,000 people. Between 15,000 and 18,000 houses have been destroyed, with Khartoum being the most-affected state.

Nationwide flooding affected 270,000 last year. This year’s floods are being considered the worst since the historical marker of the 1988 floods. Darfur appears to be less impacted than initially thought but there are conflicting reports.

MapAction has been asked by the OCHA Sudan office to assist with mapping and information management support for the humanitarian response.  A two person team was dispatched on the 18th September to assist. Liz Hughes said, ‘ these types of emergencies do not always hit the international headlines but they are just as capable of wreaking havoc and causing great levels of suffering to large numbers of the population. Accurate spatial analysis of the disaster, timely information and situation maps are crucial to helping the humanitarian community assist people when they need it.’

Deploying to Uttarakhand, India

India, 29 Jul – Over the past month, serious flooding in Uttarakhand state in Northern India has left over 3,000 dead, 11,000 missing and 100,000 people evacuated from homes to escape flooding and landslides. Described as the heaviest in 80 years, the mountainous region and ongoing nature of the flooding makes access a challenge.  Save the Children India requested assistance from MapAction . A team was deployed to Delhi on Saturday 27th July and will travel to Dehra Dun, capital of the state on Monday. The team will work with Save the Children India on logistical and monitoring requirements, and coordinate with other organisations such as SEEDS and the Digital Humanitarian Network to ensure data is shared as widely as possible.

(Photo: Hindustan Times)

Success at MapAction Hackathon

UK, 30 May – The MapAction Hackathon with AGI (Association for Geographic Information) was held on Saturday 27th April at Astun Technology offices in Epsom, Surrey. 40 people attended and worked on a series of data and visualisation topics to help MapAction in the field. The winning idea for the day was the “Dirty Data Dashboard”. This is a tool to help MapAction prepare data for scenario exercises, a key component of making sure the team is prepared for a real disaster when it happens. 

The event couldn’t have gone ahead without the enthusiasm of the participants who brought their knowledge of data, programming, GIS and visualisation from their day jobs to help MapAction. Technical Project Leader Andy Smith commented “We’ve already made progress with implementing some of the ideas and we’ve passed on the ideas for the population movement arrows to our volunteers. The Dirty Data Dashboard got its first real test at our annual disaster scenario training exercise.”

MapAction would like to thank Astun Technology who supplied their offices, lots of tea coffee and refreshments and cup cakes! MapAction are hoping to hold similar events to this in the future. If you are interested in joining the AGI as a member please visit the AGI website for more information. Please keep an eye on the MapAction website for more details and register here for alerts.

MapAction follows MAHASEN – UPDATE

Myanmar, 23 May – Tropical Cyclone Mahasen made landfall on Thursday northwest of Chittagong, Bangladesh.  Although there was less damage than anticipated due to reduced wind speeds, Bangladesh experienced coastal flooding and damage to shelters. Myanmar largely escaped the storm’s impact. MapAction’s team deployed with the UNDAC team to Sittwe, Rakhine state to better assess the situation, due to concerns for large numbers of displaced people settled in flood plains and their potential vulnerability.

However there was less need for disaster response during this mission and the team has therefore focused on assessing the current Information Management and mapping/GIS capacity in Rakhine state. As part of this, the team have met with a variety of agencies to assess how well prepared these agencies are for future disaster response  in relation to information management capacity. An initial dataset has been developed by the team through the data scramble at the outset of the deployment and since being in country, from talking with agencies. This will provide the foundation for any future disaster response mapping capacity.

Having completed this task, the MapAction team will return to the UK at the weekend.  It is hoped that a follow up visit to take forward the recommendations for capacity building and data preparedness might be undertaken in the future.

Myanmar, 16 May

MapAction has deployed a team of two volunteers in support of a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination mission in Myanmar to assess the impact of a tropical storm due to make landfall early Friday morning. Tropical Storm Mahasen is moving across the Indian Ocean towards Bangladesh and Myanmar. The cyclone appears to have weakened during its trajectory but remains a category 1 cyclone.

The highest impact is anticipated in Chittagong and Coz’s Bazaar area of Bangladesh although depending on its final trajectory could impact 8.2m people in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. There are serious concerns for displaced people (around 115,000-140,000 people) living on flood plains in Rakhine State Myanmar, likely to experience flooding and high winds, even if the storm’s epicentre is in Bangladesh. The Government of Myanmar has activated the first level of a three level evacuation plan, identifying locations to move people to safer and higher ground.

The full impact of the storm and subsequent flooding will not be known for several days. However the early deployment of the UNDAC team with MapAction and Télécoms Sans Frontière means close cooperation can be established at the earliest stage with the Government authorities leading the response, and with the humanitarian agencies prepositioning relief supplies including, medical supplies, tents and food, in support. In 2008 MapAction deployed a team to Myanmar in response to Cyclone Nargis, a devastating cyclone that claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused widespread damage to the Ayerarwady Delta area and parts of Yangon.

(Photos: Cyclone Nargis, 2008)

Meet our volunteer…Hamish Pritchard

UK, 9 May – Hamish Pritchard has been a MapAction Volunteer since 2006.With a Master’s in ‘remote sensing’ Hamish works fulltime for the British Antarctic Survey undertaking seasons in Antarctica and working from Cambridge for the rest of the time. Hamish underwent a rigorous assessment process before being accepted as a MapAction volunteer. This was followed by training in the organisation’s approach, services and procedures as well as in technical geographical information systems (GIS) training some of which was new to Hamish. Security and first aid training is also a core element of preparation for deployment.

Volunteers are expected to be self-supporting, capable of setting up the MapAction ‘office’ anywhere under any conditions and able to deliver high quality mapping and information services when under stress. Here Hamish talks about his experience with MapAction and reflects on his Haiti 2010 deployment.

“I first heard about MapAction at around the time it started, from a friend at college. It sounded like it could be an interesting use of my skills, so I was keen to find out more. The more I found out, the more I liked the sound of the organisation and its work. MapAction presented an opportunity to be ‘hands on’, making a real difference in crisis situations.

“My initial training was a steep but enjoyable learning curve, and training is on going. What is exciting about MapAction is that groups of MapAction volunteers develop new mapping techniques and software programmes which add value to what we can offer in the field and share with other organisations.

“In a typical year I give up one weekend or one full day every other month, which adds up to at least 18 days of training every year in addition to the time which might be spent on deployment.

“The alert about the high magnitude Haiti earthquake came through at about 10pm. It appeared on my mobile phone as a text alert labelled ‘active’, which meant that MapAction had already decided to send a team. I replied to say I was available. When I checked my phone again in the early hours there was a message to say that I was on the team and we would be deployed that day.

“It was a rush to get packed and sorted, and to clear two weeks’ leave with work.  I got a taxi direct to Gatwick where I met the other team members, who’d picked up the equipment we needed from MapAction HQ in Buckinghamshire. On the plane, chartered by the UK Government’s Department for International Development,  (DFID), the atmosphere was charged.

“The situation in Haiti touched people all over the world. Many large public buildings such as universities, schools, hotels and shops had collapsed. The civil ‘heart’ of the city had been literally ripped out. Many people were trapped under rubble and injured or dying. It was going to be a huge challenge to help people. “On arrival, we joined the UN Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination team (UNDAC). Our task was to provide crucial mapping to assist their work. The UN assigned different teams to different areas, so our first task was to create a map marking out sectors of the city. We then created smaller maps for individual search and rescue teams. Street signs and many landmarks were destroyed, so we gave them GPS co-ordinates instead.

“Some people who were trapped had phoned and texted relatives and friends, sometimes abroad. The UN set up a website where people could contact the rescuers. When we had reliable information backed by GPS co-ordinates, we could pass this to nearby search and rescue teams.

“During my deployment we were in a camp at the airport. The work was pressured and unrelenting. We slept on camp beds and lived on military rations. There were showers, but to be honest that was not the priority. We were there for one reason – to help to save lives.

“When we handed over to the next MapAction team, we were exhausted. The whole experience had been so intense, the adrenaline was constantly going – but ultimately it was rewarding. I felt that I had done something important.”

MapAction receives a £3,160 donation from CSR

UK, 9 May – Last year, CSR’s UK employees voted MapAction their “Charity of the Year” for 2012. This year, despite not taking the majority of votes required to retain this title, CSR’s Social Responsibility committee decided to make a special donation to MapAction – an amount totalling £3,160 based on a “runner-up” donation of £2,500 plus £10 for each of the 66 employee votes cast.

Presenting a cheque for £3,160 to MapAction volunteer Nick McWilliam [pictured left] outside CSR’s Churchill House headquarters in Cambridge last week, Will Gardiner [centre], Chief Financial Officer of CSR said, “Once again CSR is pleased to support the humanitarian services provided by MapAction – aid that saves many lives. This unique charity works in disaster zones providing frequently updated situation maps showing where relief help is most urgently needed.” CSR engineer Azadeh Ebrahimi [right] represented the company’s Social Responsibility committee.

Since 2002, MapAction volunteers have responded to 39 humanitarian emergencies worldwide, including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis. Recently returned home to Cambridge from deployment supporting the Syria response, Nick McWilliam has been with MapAction since it started 10 years ago. Nick has previously been deployed to emergencies in Japan, South Sudan, Niger, and Pakistan.

Commenting on CSR’s gesture, Liz Hughes, Chief Executive at MapAction said, “MapAction volunteers are on standby 24/7 to respond to any humanitarian emergency anywhere in the world.  It is wonderful to have the support from CSR for a second year. It goes a long way in ensuring we can be deployment ready. MapAction supports humanitarian partners in saving lives and minimising suffering when a disaster strikes. Through our relationship CSR employees are also helping reach men, women and children in urgent need.”

MapAction launches Syria Appeal

UK, 1 Feb – MapAction is appealing to its supporters to make a donation to enable the charity to continue its commitment to help those affected by the Syria crisis. Since December 2012, MapAction has had six volunteers working in the region to help to map the needs of affected communities and coordinate humanitarian efforts. The resulting situational analysis has contributed to securing pledges for more than $1.5 billion at a recent conference of international donors in Kuwait. Before Wednesday’s conference, donors had given only nine per cent of the amount sought.

Valerie Amos, the UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, highlighted at the conference the latest figures on the affected population in northern Syria, referring directly to the evidence from the J-RANS inter-agency rapid assessment in northern Syria, to which MapAction was a key contributor. Our mapped information helped to provide evidence that the numbers in need in the north alone may be as high as 3.2m, a significant increase on previous estimates which was less than this for the whole country. Valerie Amos commented: “Up to three million people are having trouble getting food. Bakeries have been destroyed or cannot get fuel, so bread is in short supply. Cereal, fruit and vegetable production has dropped by half in some areas.

Twenty-five per cent of schools are no longer in use because they have been destroyed or have been turned into communal shelters. Thousands of children are unable to go to school.

The needs are huge. The UN estimates that four million people need urgent humanitarian assistance, including two million who have fled their homes and are now living without the most basic services: without clean water, sanitation facilities and electricity.

Alongside the situational analysis of affected communities in the north, MapAction has also had volunteers working from Beirut on the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP) in partnership with the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS). Its mapped information is providing valuable, independent analysis of the overall humanitarian situation, within Syria and neighbouring countries.

MapAction has already committed to deploying further volunteers to the region to assist with the ongoing coordination of humanitarian efforts. The charity anticipates its involvement will continue for many months to come, which will stretch its limited resources and has led to this appeal for funding.

It costs approximately £4,500 to deploy a team of two skilled volunteers to the region for a two-week period, including flights, accommodation and subsistence. As demonstrated at the recent international donor conference, the impact of their work makes an important contribution to key decisions about the delivery of humanitarian aid. Please give what you can.

The Syria Crisis Appeal will be directly channelled into MapAction’s humanitarian mapping service for the Syria Crisis. In the unlikely event that the charity raises more money than can be reasonably spent, any surplus funds will be channelled into the charity’s Rapid Response Fund – a designated fund that supports the direct costs of deploying skilled volunteers to humanitarian emergencies anywhere in the world.

MapAction responds to humanitarian crisis in CAR

Copyright: EC/ECHO/Imanol BerakoetxeaYaounde, 22 Jan – MapAction has deployed two volunteers to Yaounde, Cameroon, at the request of UNICEF to support with the response to the ongoing violence and insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Since 10 December 2012, a coalition of rebel groups in CAR (the “Seleka” coalition) has taken control of a number of towns across the country, stopping just short of the capital, Bangui. The on-going insecurity is taking a toll on close to 1.5 million people (some 33% of the total population of CAR), comprising approximately 800,000 people who reside in rebel-controlled zones and 700,000 in Bangui.

Rebels took over key mining areas in the country, destroyed hundreds of homes, and displaced thousands of civilians. Reports have claimed that the rebels have forcibly recruited children to fight and serve as porters and sex slaves.

A peace agreement was signed between the CAR government and rebel groups on 11 January, however, tens of thousands of people are thought to have stayed away from their homes due to ongoing insecurity. Many shops, markets and schools remain closed, with some medical clinics running out of supplies.

CAR is a landlocked nation, bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. MapAction’s volunteers will initially be based in neighbouring Cameroon.

MapAction has worked in several other countries of west Africa in the recent past, including response to the post-election violence in the Ivory Coast in 2011, and supporting conflict resolution programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge – Update

UK, 12 Dec – MapAction would like to thank all its supporters for contributing to the Big Give Christmas Challenge this December. So far £8,531 has been raised for its Rapid Response Fund, which will be channelled into its emergency mapping service.

Matched funds will remain available until 19 December (subject to availability), so it’s not too late to take part. If you would like to make a contribution, please visit Every £1 donated could be worth £2.25 with matched giving and Gift Aid. Thank you.

Volunteers deploy ahead of Typhoon Pablo

MANILA, 3 Dec – A team of two MapAction volunteers has deployed to the Philippines in readiness for Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) which is heading straight towards the country from the western Pacific. The deployment arose from a request from the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. Recent reports indicate the typhoon is producing sustained winds of 114 mph and gusts of up to 124 mph. According to Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the typhoon is expected to make landfall over Surigao del Norte on Tuesday morning and affect Mindanao, Visayas, areas in Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila.

There are concerns that this could result in floods and landslides amongst communities that are still recovering from the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Sendong, which hit northern Mindanao in December of last year and led to a MapAction deployment. Some responders believe that Pablo could develop into a super-typhoon and cause even more destruction than Sendong, which killed more than 1,250 people and displaced nearly three quarters of a million.

Nigel Woof, MapAction’s Chief Executive commented: “It’s unusual for MapAction to deploy a team before the disaster has actually hit, but this means we will be on the scene and ready to help as soon as the storm passes through. We got the call for assistance from the UN on Saturday and were able to have our team in the air by Sunday evening. One volunteer arrived in Manila this morning from Bangkok, where she is based. Another is flying from the UK and will arrive later today. They will initially work from Manila to help map the needs of communities, but may travel to affected regions once the size and shape of the impact is clearer.”

This is MapAction’s third emergency mission to the Philippines. In addition to its deployment a year ago for Sendong, the charity also assisted after severe storms in 2009. As before, MapAction will work closely with the Filipino national disaster management agency, United Nations and other responders to help coordinate whatever response is needed to Typhoon Pablo.

Follow link for Philippines map catalogue

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Boosting disaster resilience in 2012

UK, 29 Nov – Here at MapAction, we know from our own experience in more than thirty humanitarian crises that disaster preparedness can save lives. Beyond our six emergency deployments so far in 2012, we have also made seven capacity-building trips worldwide and delivered training on another 15 short courses and modules.

We know that when a disaster strikes, responders need immediate access to the best available map data. Alongside this, national disaster management agencies need to be able to produce situation maps that help to steer aid in the vital early stages of a new emergency. With that aim, MapAction has been working in vulnerable countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community and the United Nations in the region, to train national staff in the use of free and open-source GIS tools, involving work in Kenya and Zambia. A staff member also took part in a national disaster preparedness capacity assessment in Nigeria.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a two-stage pilot project has been completed with partners of the international NGO CAFOD. The project aims to provide appropriate low- or no-cost tools for local NGOs to map the indicators of re-emergent conflict, and to use that data for the prevention of conflict and to advocate for change. One of CAFOD’s partners commented on our initial scoping exercise:“MapAction were very patient […] and got partners to spend half a day learning to use Google Earth, it was very empowering. We had a discussion which identified the key target audience and then what the best mapping applications would be – we now have a clearer plan.”

We also provided training for disaster responders in Dominica, and are planning a trip to transfer advanced GIS skills to UN humanitarian information management professionals in the central Asian region in December.

“Helping to grow capacity for disaster and conflict resilience is something we’re well equipped to do. We can draw on our own direct experience in disaster response to help partners use the growing toolkit of free GIS software, and to prepare their data resources. So they can be ready for the day they hope won’t come, but which so often does in vulnerable parts of the world.” Nigel Woof, MapAction Chief Executive.

Almost all our capacity-building and training work is funded out of our core resources, rather than receiving special grants. If you are interested in supporting MapAction’s disaster preparedness work, please contact us via email or call Chloe on 01494 56 88 99.

London Marathon 2013

UK, 7 Nov – MapAction 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 –

Places are limited, so please register by Monday 19 November to be in with a chance of joining Team MapAction!

Fundraise for Free

UK, 17 Oct – You can raise money for MapAction at no cost to yourself. Give As You Live is a clever little widget that raises money for MapAction while you shop online. Big brands including Amazon, John Lewis, M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and have signed up to donate when you buy from their online stores.

So with only 68 shopping days until Christmas, why not sign up today and start fundraising for free?

It’s really quick and easy to set up. All you need do is register some very basic information and you’re off! Each time you visit a Give As You Live retailer, just click on the GAYL logo and you’ll be raising money for MapAction through your everyday purchases.

Register for your GAYL account at: and start fundraising for free today!

Taking stock of progress

UK, 12 Oct – MapAction has just received an independent evaluation report in its work. The review was done as part of the charity’s commitments under the DFID Programme Partnership Agreement (PPA), in which MapAction receives strategic funding.

The headline findings of the review were that: MapAction is being effective in making it easier for aid agencies to make evidence-based operational and coordination decisions; that its work is judged to be conducted effectively and efficiently; and that the charity delivers value-for-money both through its volunteer capacity and its cost conscious ethos.

The independent evaluators interviewed external partners and service users and also MapAction’s own volunteers and staff. There was a high correlation between views of the organisation from outside and inside. The consultants described the feedback from users as “incredibly positive”.

Although no serious shortcomings were identified, the consultants highlighted several areas that MapAction needs to keep under review to ensure sustainability of impact. This includes its capacity building work – which began as a way to use volunteer resources in between major emergency response missions. The charity concurred with the consultants that it is important to ensure that delivery of training in GIS methods to partner agencies in developing countries ‘sticks’ and contributes to long term capacity enhancement for disaster risk reduction.

Humanitarian organisations appear to be demanding ‘more MapAction’ in a number of areas: to extend its deployments in major emergencies, to deliver more capacity building support and to accelerate its work in putting relevant new geospatial technologies into the hands of aid workers in the field. At the same time, the challenges of funding this capacity came through in the report: the charity’s total annual budget is currently less than £450,000 ($675,000) per year.

MapAction’s chief executive Nigel Woof said: “It’s gratifying that the review endorsed our overall approach and that users in the humanitarian sector value our services so highly. The review findings point towards the ‘multiplier effect’ that we have on the impact efficiency of emergency aid. The consultants felt we should be shouting this from the rooftops to attract the resources we need to extend our reach.”

The Independent Progress Review executive summary and management response can be accessed here – MapAction IPR 2012 Final Exec Summary and Management Response.