Based in the UK with a band of 70 or so volunteers and a handful of permanent staff, MapAction is an international disaster mapping charity working to ensure humanitarian responders have access to the maps and data they need to save lives and relieve suffering.
MapAction has received long term support from the OS since 2006. In addition to donations, OS also allows employees who are MapAction volunteers to take 10 days volunteer leave.
OS and MapAction have also worked closely on influencing the international agenda at the UNGGIM (United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management), successfully lobbying for the availability of crucial geospatial data in the aftermath of a humanitarian disaster.
Having just been presented with MapAction’s Volunteer of the Year 2019 award by founder David Spackman, OS employee Steve Hurst shares his volunteering experience…
As an organisation, we sponsor the charity MapAction. they provide mapping support in the aftermath of disasters where thousands of people can suddenly find themselves battling to save lives and livliehoods. Before aid agencies can help them, the first requirement is information. Which areas have yet to be reached? Where are the relief resources? Where are the people in greatest need?
MapAction delivers this vital information in mapped form, from data gathered at the disaster scene. Creating a ‘shared operational picture’ is crucial for making informed decisions and delivering aid to the right place, quickly.
Ordnance Survey support the charity, both with funding and occasionally with personnel. Recently our colleague Chris Phillips has been in Sudan to help provide mapping and information management services following the impact of the serious flooding in the country.Heavy rain and flash floods in several areas of Sudan had affected up to 530,000 people. Between 15,000 and 18,000 houses had been destroyed, with Khartoum being the most-affected state.
I’m now back in Britain having spent the last few months in Haiti working for MapAction, supporting the earthquake reconstruction work. I left with change in the air. Clouds have now moved into what was a clear sky, rain is getting increasingly frequent, almost every night, and there’s a breeze that can almost be described as cool (although unfortunately, it didn’t penetrate the canvas of our tents).
In light of the imminent rainy season and the hurricane season that will follow shortly afterward, efforts at recovery have almost been put on a back burner in favour of risk management and avoidance, as preparations (call it a battening down of hatches) are made to get through the next 4 or 5 months.