24th August 2010

MapAction in Pakistan

Viv Alexander

On 19 August one of our GeoVation team members, Ian, flew out to join the MapAction Pakistan flood response team based in Islamabad.  MapAction is a volunteer-based charity which provides mapping data and expertise to show relief agencies the locations where people are in greatest need and make sure that vital aid reaches them. Below Ian gives us an insight into MapAction’s work and how it is supporting agencies in Pakistan:

MapAction was on standby for several days waiting for appropriate clearances to travel to Pakistan. Two team members originally flew out to support United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) and two others to support International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Ian

Ian

As flooding spread southwards from the initial impact in the north-west, practically every province in Pakistan is either affected or forecast to be soon. At time of deployment, approaching 14 million people are suffering from the effects of the worst monsoon rains in 80 years. With such massive humanitarian needs for food, clean water, emergency healthcare and other resources, across a huge area of the country, good analysis of geographical priorities becomes essential for the most effective aid response.

This is the fourth time that MapAction team members have deployed to Pakistan since the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. Last year, a team worked alongside UN and other agencies responding to the humanitarian consequences of the counter-insurgency conflict in the north-west, the same area that is the focus of the current flood crisis.

To give some insight into the MapActon operation, we have created over 200 different mapping products. These have to range from national level, right down to district level. Information comes in from contacts with agencies operating in the field, daily coordination meetings, the national meteorological office and other verified sources. This information often needs to be analysed before it can be presented on a mapping product. It is this part of the process which can often add considerable time in the production of a high quality product. Having said that we are working 14-16 hour days and are often pushed out the door, being told to get some sleep.mapateam

The humanitarian need is growing daily and maps produced by MapAction are increasingly in demand, with existing situation maps updated on a daily basis as new information becomes available. As assessment teams return from the field, more information will become available and there will be greater need for this to be visualised. MapAction currently has five team members here in Islamabad who will continue to provide their vital support role.

If you wish to find out more, see some of MapAction’s latest mapping products

To support MapAction, please visit their website