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.

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]

Responding to floods in Nigeria

Severe floods in Nigeria have claimed almost 200 lives and affected over 80% of the country across 12 states. For the past week, a two-person MapAction team has been in Abuja supporting the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team and the National Emergency Management Agency in their response.

MapAction has been helping with information management and needs assessments for critical food, water, shelter and healthcare supplies to ensure those affected get the help they need as quickly as possible. We’re grateful to the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for funding this essential work.

MapAction volunteers support UNDAC induction training

Three MapAction volunteers have just returned from Morges in Switzerland where they were supporting an induction training course for the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC).

As well as supporting a simulation exercise with mapping, Karl Hennermann, Johnathan Gatward and David Collins delivered training on GPS, information management and the use of maps for humanitarian response.

Our participation in this training was made possible thanks to the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which provides us with grant funding to help us improve the use of maps, geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis across the humanitarian sector.