Mapping the Crisis in Pakistan

Example of Pakistan Crisis Map, 25 Sept. 2010

According to numerous sources, the monsoons and flooding in Pakistan represent one of the largest humanitarian crises in recent times.  Roughly 18 million victims have fled their homes, and the government and international aid organizations struggle to deliver appropriate aid.  The victims represent one tenth of Pakistan’s population.

I have recently become a volunteer in pakreport.org, which maps the crisis in Pakistan as it is happening.  Pakreport is using the open source platform Ushahidi to categorize and map various types of emergencies, health hazards and security issues to help law enforcement and aid workers.  Here is how it works:

  • Project leaders arrange with the local telecomunications provider a short code (3441 for Pakistan) that enables people to route messages about the disaster
  • Team members and aid workers distribute flyers to people on the ground, instructing them to report via text message (SMS) occurrences of disease, malnutrition, water sanitation, crime, emergency and shelter
  • Pakreport receives text messages.  Volunteers translate, categorize and map text messages, which create the map; a critical component is locating the longitude and latitude of each report to locate it on the map
  • If you click through to pakreport, you will see the various categories of health hazards, each with its own map.  This helps aid organizations to triage their resources based on the real-time reporting of need

I am very excited to be apart of pakreport because it is a direct way to help flood victims.  If you would like to learn more, here are some amazing links:

  • video that show hundreds cars and floating away from major cities
  • Excellent interview with UN envoy to Pakistan, Kilian Kleinschmidt, discussing political and practical in delivering aid in such a volatile situation
  • Series of videos covering potential political ramifications of aid

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