Extended relief work thanks to Earth Observation

(4th July 2008). Following the request of the United-Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to use immediate crisis mapping of the affected areas after the devastating Cyclone Nargis, the International Charter on ‘Space and Major Disasters’ has provided these mapping products by using Earth Observation (EO) satellites.

The damage maps have been created quickly because the RESPOND project had delivered EO-derived topographic maps of Myanmar a month before the disaster and thus had enabled the RESPOND team to compare up-to-date basic maps before the disaster with satellite images acquired during or after the cyclone impact. The continuous procurement of these maps was important also because very severe rain events occurred in the days following Nargis.

After the severe phase of the disaster, the range of mapping products was extended to provide further details on the condition of roads, bridges and buildings, which has helped the relief workers to make more detailed assessments for the progress of the relief operation.

The map products have been used by over 40 organisations, including non-governmental aid organisations based in Myanmar, such as the Red Cross, and governmental organisations, such as the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief and the Myanmar Department of Forestry.

Particular attention was paid to the coordinated dissemination of products to ensure aid workers were able to quickly gain access to these maps.
The RESPOND project consists in an alliance of European and International organisations working with the humanitarian community to improve access to maps, satellite imagery and geographic information

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Author: EARSC

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