Update #9 on Vanuatu and confirmation that we have stood down

+++ Stand down for Vanuatu deployment as of 2300 UTC 22 March 2015 +++

It’s been a very full week (and then some)

When it became clear that TC Pam had hit Vanuatu on Friday 13 March 2015, members of the core team started making preparations for an activation. One of our activation criteria is that The SBTF will activate only under the request of a third party. We made sure that the relevant agencies knew we were available and understood our capabilities.

We received a request from UN-OCHA via the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) and the Standby Task Force was activated at 1930 UTC 17 March 2015.

We used the MicroMappers platform to process images from Twitter and provide us with a feed of relevant pictures of damage. Our volunteer (GeoClickers) then placed these on this map. http://micromappers.com/

Volunteers also found images of damages from news reports, social media and other online sources. Volunteers then worked out through cunning geekery, and in some cases the Verily platform, the location on the ground the photo depicted. These photos were mapped using the ArcGIS story platform.

Here: http://arcg.is/197hIK9

And here: http://arcg.is/1MyUhbC

We also created an information management resource. This has been an incredible piece of collaborative research and information management.

It includes:

  • a database of agencies from across the globe who are sending teams to Vanuatu. This means they all know who else is there. They can get in touch, coordinate and share information avoid duplication and speed up response.
  • a database of contact details of individuals from responding agencies who are currently based in Vanuatu.
  • a database of assessments of different aspects of the situation undertake by different agencies. Each agency may have assessed different aspect of needs or different areas of Vanuatu. Combined with our database of every relevant map we can track down this helps every single responder build a better picture of the real situation, again reducing duplication and improving response.

At the end of our deployment we had 940 line items on our database made up of over 5400 data points.

What happens next

We’ll be undertaking, and publishing to the network, an after action review. The core team will be looking at how we can all work together to improve processes for the next activation.

One thing we already know for sure is that we want to recruit more coordinators. The role of coordinator is absolutely crucial. Having good coordinators available 24/7 makes all the difference to all of us on a deployment. Our coordinators are fabulous but we need more of them to share the load across the team.

If you have volunteered on at least two deployments and would enjoy the chance to support, encourage and help other volunteers on future deployments please volunteer as a coordinator right now. If you’d like to volunteer or to find out more contact Jus or Per.

Jus: justine@standbytaskforce.com skype: fidget01

Per per@standbytaskforce.com skype: per_aarvik

The situation at 1839 UTC 22 March 2015

Our own data shows that the rate of work on the ground is starting to increase. Many agencies have staff in the country and coordination activity is ramping up.

  • Half of Vanuatu’s population, spread over 22 islands, has been affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
  • Vanuatu’s President has declared a State of Emergency across all six provinces of Vanuatu.
  • 166,000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance for the next three months.
  • Shelter, food, health and water, sanitation and health (WASH) remain key needs.
  • Tropical Cyclone Pam has severely compromised the livelihoods of at least 80 per cent of Vanuatu’s rural population.

http://reliefweb.int/report/vanuatu/vanuatu-tropical-cyclone-pam-situation-report-no-7-21-march-2015

Many agencies across the globe are running public appeals for financial assistance. The people of Vanuatu will need huge amounts of assistance to rebuild.

A final, personal, note

This has been my first deployment as a member of the core team and as one of the deployment leads. I have been genuinely moved and amazed by the time and effort, care and professionalism, good humour and commitment shown by so many of our fellow volunteers.

I am, genuinely and incredibly proud to be part of this network, to be able to work with you and all our fellow volunteers, to be able to make a difference and to help. Together we have made a difference. Together we can do amazing things.

I hope you’ve found these updates helpful. I look forward to working with you all in the future.

If you’ve got any questions, comments, or suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype.

ben@standbytaskforce.com or coreteam@standbytaskforce.com

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