Still not much to map

Day 3 – Saturday 10th May – Bangkok, Thailand

Today started like the others so far … up at 6.30, breakfast at 7, taxi at 7.30, in the office by 8am. This morning we attended the daily cluster meeting where each cluster lead agency gives an update. Still not much happening regarding visas – the Myanmar govt have taken a long weekend while they hold a referendum and embassies are not open until Tuesday.

We are now getting weather forecasts from NOAA and these show very heavy rain sweeping across the area from tomorrow and into the week – this will hamper the relief effort as well as cause further misery for the Myanmans who are still waiting for food and shelter.

It was very interesting to hear the budget breakdowns for the flash appeal (total ~ $180m) … a very large amount needed for food and shelter of course (~ $70m) but an even larger one for logistics which is being run by the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC) – all this is based on the projection that they will eventually be allowed in.

Unlike other MapAction deployments we are embedded in the OCHA outside of the emergency and as such we are being tasked by them. However, it is frustrating to see maps similar to those we are making being circulated by UNJLC (who do their own mapping) and ReliefWeb. Tomorrow however we hope to have some situation data to map as we take a day to review the last weeks happenings.

We are still lacking some vital spatial data – notably village tracts (adm4 level) – like parishes – for which we are expecting to receive statistics as they are gathered. Without the boundaries we cannot map the data. We also lack a good road coverage – i.e. one without great big gaps. Relief agencies will need a good road map once they get in-country and so far we cannot provide it. [14th May – Actually, as it happens, no data have come in yet at this level]

So, despite the frustrations and heat, we are still being appreciated and we hope that we can release some maps tomorrow. And for those who think we might just be out here drinking beer and sampling the delights of Thai cuisine … well yes we are, but only after a 12 hour day so we’re allowed OK?

[This diary is from my involvement with MapAction’s assistance to UN OCHA after cyclone Nargis, May 2008]

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