Bucks nerve centre co-ordinating Philippines response

Contained in a small building in rural Bucks is the nerve centre for work helping victims of disasters around the globe.

Recently under the spotlight for their role in the Philippines, charity MapAction are keen to talk about the work they do in crisis situations both in and out of the news.

MapAction team

MapAction team

Chief Executive Liz Hughes said they are a small team made up mostly of highly skilled volunteers who fit aid work alongside daytime jobs.

She said: “MapAction is a charity that makes maps in disaster situations to help the aid community plan how to deliver the aid in the most efficient way.’’

“We send teams of people who are professional map makers into the field, they go on a volunteer basis and draw together all the information in the affected country and turn that into visual analysis about what has happened, who has been affected and where aid is needed as a priority.”

When the typhoon was predicted to hit in the Philippines MapAction was called in advance of any other aid providers to collect essential data such as populas and density.

After the storm hit the role changed to provide information from the location of the newly dispersed population to working phone and internet coverage.

This gives aid charities information to plan how best to get the country back on its feet.

And support doesn’t end when the crisis no longer makes the headlines.

MapAction, based in Saunderton, is still out in the Philippines liaising with various organisations collecting essential data as the situation develops.

It’s tough work with long hours in poor conditions.

Operations director Jonny Douch, who is in the stricken country, said his temporary home is a tent in a ramshackle building next to a football pitch which also doubles as a helicopter launch pad.

“We are working long hours, generally we are woken up at 5.30am which is when the helicopters launch in the field next to us.

“And we have a limited water supply so we have to be careful about how much water we use.”

He continued: “Now the map work is moving over to where organisations are placing themselves, what they are responding to and what is being done to alleviate the problems.

“More detailed maps are required on population data and damage data on specific area’s, where power is available and how good is the phone coverage.”

MapAction is a charity only receives 40% of its funding from the government and the rest is provided by private donors and fundraising.

It has close links with Aylesbury business Esri.