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 during the first three months of the year following an upsurge of fighting in Aleppo.
Days before the MapAction team was due to travel, the UK and Turkey went into lockdown. Consequently, the team was compelled to switch rapidly to a remote-working approach.
Since late March, they have been helping the Clusters to get a better understanding of the locations and sizes of the camps and the needs of the people arriving and living in them. Camps vary enormously; from just a few tents to up to 93 separate sites within a single camp, and from long-term, static settlements to temporary ones.
As well as cross referencing, checking and cleaning data about camp locations received from numerous sources, the MapAction team developed some simple tools to help do this quickly and easily in future, which will also have benefits for other areas of work undertaken by the Clusters. One tool validates the location coordinates of camps recorded by teams within Syria, another matches them to Syrian administrative areas.
The MapAction team has also been locating aerial images of the camps on OpenStreetMap and using these to develop 900 map polygons showing the shape and size of each camp. As well as helping the Clusters to understand and meet the existing needs of people in the camps, this work will help to inform them about their population densities, which is particularly important in the context of COVID-19.
Updated to add: This project was shortlisted for a DataIQ Award for ‘Best use of data by a not-for-profit’.
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.
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.
For several months, MapAction has been working with humanitarian research project REACH and other humanitarian organisations in Uganda to help understand the needs of this large and diverse population of displaced people so that they get the help they need.
In April this year, a MapAction team went to Uganda to explore the information needs of humanitarian teams operating in the region and how we could help. This followed an upsurge in conflict in eastern DRC, which caused a large number of people to flee to Uganda. Since then, MapAction has undertaken three further missions to Uganda to support a large-scale assessment of the needs of refugees lead by REACH, and to deliver a humanitarian mapping course.
We are very grateful to MapAction members Jonny, Jorge, Katharina, Anne, Alistair and Becky for their hard work helping ensure that the needs of refugees in Uganda can be met. We are also grateful to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU ECHO) which is funding this work through a two-year grant aimed at strengthening effective, evidence based humanitarian decision-making.
It is likely that MapAction will continue to be involved in leading training sessions and advising on the development of regional information systems in Uganda this Autumn – so watch this space for more news of that work as it unfolds.
Photo: two classroom blocks funded by EU ECHO and partners at Bidibidi refugee settlement in northwestern Uganda. EU/ECHO/Edward Echwalu
A two-person MapAction team flew to Kampala, Uganda last week to provide mapping and information management support to humanitarian teams responding to a major refugee crisis in the region. This follows a recent upsurge in conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), causing significant displacement of people into Uganda, a country that is already contending with a large influx of refugees from South Sudan. Around 1.9 million people have fled DRC since the start of 2017, with 242,000 being hosted in Uganda. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) estimates that 13.1 million people are in humanitarian need within DRC.
This latest MapAction deployment follows an earlier scoping mission undertaken by a two-person MapAction team during April this year to assess needs and how MapAction can help. MapAction offered support to in-country teams with analysing and reporting of gathered information to understand the needs of displaced communities. MapAction’s work is being funded by a two-year grant from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EU ECHO) aimed at strengthening effective, evidence based humanitarian decision-making. We will continue to provide support both in-country and remotely for around two months.
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]