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 people have returned to Iraq. Around half of these have been unable to return to their homes and are living at over 100 camps for internally displaced people. Since 2014, REACH has been carrying out assessments and providing information to support the humanitarian response.

Over a three-week period, the MapAction team is supporting REACH’s own international GIS team to optimise its data management and update overview maps of the camps. In the final week of the mission, the focus will be on analysing assessments of 13,000 camp households.

Thanks to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for supporting this activity.

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, hurricanes and storms are a key concern, but several countries also respond to a multitude of different concerns affecting their citizens including earthquakes and other seismic risks.

We are very grateful for the support of The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management of Trinidad & Tobago for their support. This is part of an ongoing joint programme we are carrying out with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). We have already run humanitarian mapping courses with CDEMA in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and Jamaica. This important work is funded by US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

Training MapAction’s latest recruits

Also in Trinidad & Tobago this week, the newest members of MapAction’s Caribbean section are being put through their paces on our Conversion Course which, through a combination of theory and practical exercises, prepares our GIS expert volunteers for deployments to humanitarian emergencies.

The week-long course covers numerous topics including sources and collection of humanitarian data, mapping in emergency conditions, priority needs and the timeline of a response.

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 emergency simulation exercises as well as teaching GIS skills.

We’re grateful to USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance for making our participation in this and other UNDAC training courses possible.

Humanitarian mapping training in Central Asia

Three MapAction team members are currently in Kostanay, Kazakhstan, teaching national civil defence and emergency responders how to create and use humanitarian maps. Next week they move to the capital Astana (Nur-Sultan) to provide the same training to local teams there.

These courses are the latest in a series of workshops we are providing as part of an ongoing joint programme of disaster preparedness activity with our regional partner, the Center for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction (CESDRR). Our partnership with CESDRR aims to improve and expand disaster preparedness, relief and recovery activities across Central Asia. 

We’re grateful to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for funding this important collaborative work.


New colleagues strengthen our Caribbean team

Earlier this year we embarked on a round of volunteer recruitment to find mapping and geographical information system (GIS) experts living and working in the Caribbean. The aim was to expand our small team in the region to ensure we are always well placed to help prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies across the Caribbean, working with our close partner the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). This includes pre-positioning personnel when necessary to provide mapping and data support in the event of severe tropical storms.

We are delighted to now welcome three exceptionally high-calibre volunteers who bring a tremendous amount of additional knowledge, expertise and energy to an already very strong Caribbean team.

Deanesh Ramsewak

Deanesh lives in Trinidad and is a lecturer and researcher at the Centre for Maritime and Ocean Studies (CMOS) of the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He teaches GIS and remote sensing and has recently worked on a multi-agency research project funded by NASA, using drones for studying coastal ecosystems. His work has been published in international and regional journals and he is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

My interest in MapAction began after the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. The response by MapAction volunteers to it, as well as to other Caribbean disasters since then, inspired me to join the humanitarian effort.

Deanesh Ramsewak

Deanesh also volunteers as a mentor for the Caribbean Youth Science Forum (CYSF), the longest standing non-formal STEM education programme in the region, as well as for a local non-profit organisation called Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) which seeks to effect change through technology and education. In his free time he enjoys travelling, meeting new people, swimming and yoga.

Lavern Ryan

Lavern is from the beautiful Caribbean island of Montserrat where she lives and works as a GIS Manager. She loves travelling, meeting new people and learning about new cultures. She especially loves star gazing!

Following the events of the 2017 hurricane season, I wanted to use my skills more to help mitigate against the impacts of disasters. When the call came for Caribbean GIS professionals to join MapAction, I was further inspired. I am passionate about GIS and I want to use my knowledge and skills to help people when they are most in need and to help to save lives. MapAction provides the platform for me to do just that!

Lavern Ryan

Mike Clerveaux

Mike is currently the Hazard Mitigation and GIS Specialist within the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME), Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an Urban and Regional Planner by profession and holds a Masters degree in Built Environment with a specialisation in Geomatics. He joined the Disaster Management Team in 2016 and that same year was part of the CDEMA Regional Response Mechanism that was deployed to the Bahamas following Hurricane Matthew, which was when he first encountered MapAction.

Prior to joining DDME, Mike was a volunteer in Damage and Needs Assessment (DANA) as well as lead facilitator for them. Outside of Disaster Management, Mike is happily married with three girls. He enjoys carpentry and coaching basketball.

“Ever since Hurricane Matthew, I was eager to be a part of MapAction. I look forward to serving in this new capacity and being a part of the MapAction family.”

Mike Clerveaux

Humanitarian mapping training in the Caribbean

Together with our partner the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), members of MapAction’s Caribbean and European teams are providing humanitarian mapping training to local disaster management teams from the Eastern and Central regions of the Caribbean this week and next .

Pictures by CDEMA

Disaster management personnel from nine Caribbean nations, as well as CDEMA staff, are attending one of two courses, one in Antigua & Barbuda and the other in Barbados. These courses follow on from similar workshops that took place last year: a regional one at CDEMA’s headquarters in Barbados and one for the North-Western Caribbean in Jamaica. 

Participants are improving their GIS (geographical information system) skills and we are working with them to help understand their national data and information management needs and capabilities, where the gaps are and how MapAction can help to ensure they are filled. This will assist them to effectively prepare for and respond to disasters.

This is part of our ongoing joint programme of work with CDEMA and is funded by US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

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 extensive flooding.

Hundreds of people are known to have died and hundreds of thousands of people to have been affected, with casualties across Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Many people have been left without shelter, clean water or food.

MapAction initially sent a three-person Emergency Response Team to Mozambique on 20 March at the request of United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team. A fourth team member followed a few days later when it became clear that more in-country support was needed. Three MapAction members are currently based in Beira, the city that took the full brunt of the Cyclone, suffering catastrophic damage, and a fourth is in Chimoio, to the West of Mozambique. A further team rotation will travel out this weekend.

MapAction’s highly specialist team is working at the heart of the planning and coordination of the response, providing vital situation maps and information management services needed by all agencies to get help to where it’s most needed, as quickly as possible.


Among other things, the MapAction team in Mozambique is providing analysis of aerial assessments of the affected area, working with UNOCHA, the Red Cross and Save the Children. Photo by Luke Caley

They are supported in this work by our wider team of technical volunteers and specialist staff, who have been working remotely on flood extent modelling and on gathering and sharing useful reference data to help response teams since the disaster happened.

We are grateful to everyone that has donated to our Cyclone Idai appeal, to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for funding this life-saving work.

[Update: video blog ‘Inside the response to Cyclone Idai]

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 to provide mapping training to Caribbean disaster responders.

Through these joint activities, we have built up a strong working relationship with CDEMA and last week this partnership was formalised through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a ceremony in Barbados. This states that we will continue to work alongside CDEMA teams as well as supporting National Disaster Management Agencies within the Caribbean region as needed. We are helping them to improve their use of data gathering, mapping and analysis so that they can provide disaster response support quickly and in the right places. In the event of an emergency in the Caribbean region, we help CDEMA to obtain the most complete, accurate and detailed data available in the fastest possible time. As well as providing remote support, we send MapAction team members as needed to the affected location and, in certain situations, we preposition people to ensure an immediate response.

MapAction’s Chief Executive Liz Hughes traveled out to Barbados for the MoU signing ceremony. “Collaboration and partnership are fundamental to MapAction’s approach,” she commented. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to deepen and formalise our working relationship with CDEMA and we are keen to support them and their partners in whatever way we can.”

MapAction’s work to support CDEMA and national agencies in the Caribbean through training and preparedness activities is funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (EU ECHO).

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.

The MoU was signed by CESDRR Director Valeiry Petrov and MapAction Chief Executive Liz Hughes at a ceremony at CESDRR’s headquarters in Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

CESDRR is an international organisation which aims to decrease the risk and mitigate the consequences of emergencies in Central Asia, as well as stimulating and supporting regional and international cooperation.

Working with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), CESDRR identified an opportunity to use mapping and information management to improve and expand its preparedness, relief and recovery activities. CESDRR, OCHA and MapAction have since been collaborating around a scoping exercise to review existing capacity within CESDRR relating to skills, technology, information, policies and procedures. An initial geospatial services training and scoping workshop was held at CESDRR’s Almaty headquarters in October 2017 delivered by MapAction and OCHA, followed by a further five-day exercise in July 2018 lead by MapAction to begin taking forward recommendations.

Liz Hughes commented, “Our joint efforts to ensure that CESDRR and its partners are fully equipped to use mapping and information management techniques to help prevent, manage and rapidly recover from disasters are progressing extremely well and a lot of progress has already been made. Our scoping work is nearing completion, and we are now starting to work together on a plan of action for the coming months. I’m very pleased that MapAction has been able to support CESDRR in a crucial aspect of its incredibly important work and I’m optimistic and excited about our ongoing collaboration.”

MapAction’s participation in joint activities with CESDRR is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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 signed today by Adelina Kamal, Executive Director of the AHA Centre, and MapAction Chief Executive Liz Hughes, during the 8th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The two organisations are working together to build mapping and information management capacity among humanitarian actors in the ASEAN region as well as help them prepare for a disaster by putting in place essential geospatial information and resources. MapAction will also be called upon to provide mapping and information management support in the event of a disaster in Southeast Asia, both in-country and remotely, as needed.

Liz Hughes commented, “Humanitarian emergencies often strike without warning and the challenge for those responding is to know where to start. They need information about what help is needed and where, as well as the status of roads and other infrastructure, as quickly as possible. Conveying this information visually in the form of maps and data visualisations helps to create a shared operational picture for aid agencies, governments and local partners, which is vital for a coordinated and effective response. The work that the AHA Centre is doing across and beyond the ASEAN region to protect and assist vulnerable communities is excellent and we are very pleased to be able to support it.”

Adelina Kamal said, “We are delighted to be working closely with the MapAction team. Their expertise and experience in humanitarian mapping and information management will be very valuable for the AHA Centre, as well as for our ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team or ASEAN-ERAT members, who have been trained together with the MapAction team in recent years. The knowledge and practical skills shared by MapAction through joint training and exercises will allow the AHA Centre and our ASEAN-ERAT members to better assist the disaster-affected country and enhance coordination with other humanitarian actors in line with the spirit of One ASEAN One Response.”

MapAction’s participation in the joint training exercises and activities with the AHA Centre and ASEAN-ERAT members is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Photos

Top: signing ceremony of the MoI. Back row, members of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, from L to R: Mr. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community; Dato’ Haji Muhammad Yusoff bin Wazir, the Deputy Director General (Post-Disaster) of NADMA Malaysia; Dr. Ko Ko Naing, the Director-General of Myanmar’s Department of Disaster Management

Above: MapAction and ASEAN-ERAT team members train together.

About the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance

The AHA Centre is an inter-governmental organisation established by ten ASEAN Member States on 17 November 2011 with the aim to facilitate cooperation and coordination amongst ASEAN Member States and with relevant United Nations and international organisations in promoting regional collaboration in disaster management. Under the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response signed by the ASEAN Leaders in September 2016, the AHA Centre is reaffirmed as the ASEAN regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response. The AHA Centre reports to a Governing Board that consists of heads of the National Disaster Management Organisations of the ten ASEAN Member States. The AHA Centre is based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

For more information regarding the AHA Centre, please contact:

Ms. Shintya Kurniawan
shintya.kurniawan[at]ahacentre.org
t: +62 21 2982 7793 ext. 108
www.ahacentre.org

About MapAction

MapAction’s mission is to save lives and alleviate suffering for people affected by humanitarian emergencies by mapping priority needs and helping to coordinate the response. Recognised as a leading provider of professional mapping services in first phase emergency response, MapAction is a long-term partner of humanitarian agencies including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme, Save the Children and ACAPS and has recently joined the Missing Maps project. Since 2002, MapAction has responded to 78 humanitarian emergencies, which have impacted on the lives of tens of millions of people.

For more information about MapAction, please contact:

Ms. Jo Pratt
Jpratt[at]mapaction.org
t: +44 (0)1494 568 899

MapAction’s participation in joint activities with the AHA Centre is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this press release are the responsibility of MapAction and the AHA Centre and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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.

MapAction becomes ECHO partner

echoMapAction has signed a Framework Partnership Agreement with ECHO, the humanitarian aid department of the European Commission. The agreement will enable MapAction to increase its level of response in humanitarian emergencies, as well as enabling other disaster preparedness work. It provides a mechanism for ECHO to provide funding for specific missions by MapAction.