Dear partners, members, volunteers and supporters,
Let’s use this pre-summer newsletter to look back on the changes that occurred in CartONG since the beginning of the year: new procedures, an investment plan, and new projects lead by the staff and a – more than ever – motivated team of volunteers!
The beginning of the year was marked by Maeve de France leaving the role of President. She is now investing herself directly as staff within CartONG. I would like to thank her in the name of all the CartONG team for her huge investment, for the quality of her action, and for all that she brought CartONG professionally and humanly. We wish her lot of success in her future projects!
2015 is a year of changes in many ways: beside a renewal of the association’s bureau – it has been reinforced to ensure better efficiency in coordination and decision-making – the number of staff will also grow to be able to better respond to our partners’ demands.
This was possible thanks to the financial surplus coming from the incredible mobilisation of the staff during the Ebola crisis in 2014, surplus which we have decided to distribute via an investment plan to allow the global development of CartONG.
Beside the reinforcement of the staff team, this plan includes the enhancement of our administrative procedures (after we hosted an audit by the KPMG firm), experimentation of new tools, and funding for pro and volunteers projects, as well as training.
This investment plan will allow us to ensure the quality and durability of the association’s actions for our various partners.
All the CartONG team wishes you a great summer!
PS: we will attend the 8th Forum Mondial Convergences in September in Paris. It is a key event on the international agenda of sustainable development and we hope to see you there!
The first months of 2015 were in the continuity of last year, with several major partnerships continuing but also a few new projects:
- We continue collaborating with the UN refugees agency (UNHCR) on data collection and GIS, with missions in Mozambique, Cameroon, Chad and Ukraine.
- We have strengthened our partnership with Terre des Hommes-Switzerland with a follow-up training mission in Burkina Faso, the launch of a new programme of support to their teams in Guinea, remote support and trainings for their HQ.
- We are working with the Danish Demining Group to build a platform that will allow to crowdsource of data from the field on landmine issues; it will be tested in Ukraine and Vietnam.
- We are providing technical backup for ICRC on developing several forms and dashboard systems for internal use.
- New trainings at the Bioforce Institute as well as a one-week training for the NGO International Peace Information Service in Antwerpen were conducted, on mobile data collection and data management.
- We are testing a new permanent remote support system for the Solidarités International teams (a "humanitarian tech hotline"!).
- We were recently activated by UNICEF in Nigeria, with a deployment to support a MDC survey on displaced populations.
Focus : GIS support for MSF
Our partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières-Switzerland continues, with already 12 deployments in the field this year, to keep monitoring the Ebola outbreak but also on other emergencies: cholera in Mozambique, meningitis in Niger, earthquake in Nepal, Burundian refugees in Tanzania, etc. These various deployments on diverse topics have allowed to proof-test the GIS Unit and to validate the implemented workflow.
We also continued our long-term training efforts of the MSF teams: each deployment creates the opportunity to train the staff to spatial data collection and maps production. A first advanced training have been conducted with logisticians in Uganda in May, again with the objective of giving more autonomy to the field operations.
New tools are also developed from HQ (installing ArcGIS server and deploying ArcGIS Collector) to expand the use of GIS within the organization.
- Our volunteers continue to work on the Atlas Solidarité Madagascar pilot, aimed at creating an inventory of the grassroots solidarity actors. The project won the innovation in social economy prize from the Fondation Crédit Coopératif Savoie, and two volunteers will therefore be able to go to the island over the summer to present the project and fit it to the field needs . Besides, following a training in Paris, our volunteers have already started working on duplicating the tool on 2 other projects, the first also in Madagascar in partnership with UNAIDS and the National Committee against AIDS, and the second one in Mali.
- We continue supporting the organization of mapathons in France, with a first event on our hometown Chambéry, and a mapping party at Cergy university, plus a participation to the Missing Maps project in France (more information to come soon!).
- Our volunteers have started a project to build a platform listing the different free data sources available around the world, to facilitate data mining, particularly during humanitarian crisis.
- CartONG is now member of the Digital Humanitarian Network, and we have undertaken our first activation following the earthquake in Nepal (the objective was to geolocate banks, in order to support the cash distributions programmes by NGOs).
Focus: volunteer project supporting the OpenStreetMap Madagascar community
We now have several projects in Madagascar and a growing network there. This has lead us to start a new project to support the creation of an OpenStreetMap community in Madagascar. After contributing to several actions remotely (Facebook page presenting the basis of contribution, mailing list), a CartONG volunteer/OSM contributor will organize in July an advanced training in Antanarivo to try to gather a first group of contributors (registrations here), with the support of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie. She will also coordinate an event with the innovation hub Habaka, with the goal of introducing OSM to a wider audience.
The training will include basics of contributing and functioning of OSM: license, georeferencing, field papers, JOSM, using GPS, Tasking manager, applications and uses, quality insurance, Wiki, organizing mapping parties... It's also an opportunity to test a new model of mini server (following Haiti last year) to be able to work even without internet access. Other ideas are currently being worked on, including developing a map rendering specific for Madagascar, how to manage collective contribution, etc. with the support of the OSM Lyon community.
Article: training & innovation
During the past few years, great new trends in training techniques have emerged, usually coming from the private sector or the world of education. Here are the main ones:
- Using rich media considers using new types of materials and channels to ensure that the student’s attention remains constant (audio, video, storytelling techniques, exploratory activities etc.).
- Individualised eLearning is making sure that the training session is adapted to the student by letting him choose his learning path by exploring the training material as he wishes.
- M-learning is adapting learning courses to a mobile environment, as the use of phones in the world is growing much more rapidly than computers and their interfaces are becoming more and more user-friendly.
- MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) aim at facilitating learning by setting up online courses open to wide numbers, favouring collaborative support through forums.
- Gamification is facilitating a student’s engagement by using gaming techniques such as challenges, rewards or exercises simulating difficult situations to boost implication.
All of these trends facilitate the acquisition of knowledge in a lively environment that keeps a student’s attention.
These techniques (apart from the rich media) are however sometimes slow to kick into the humanitarian sector, that rarely has specialised training staff, and for which these techniques sometimes seem too unrelated to their every-day work environment. In a way however, the humanitarian field should be one of the areas that use these techniques the most, as they often require less “seat time” and are a break in a long-hour day and multitask and stressful environment. It is also more and more adapted to the young generation of staff that are emerging and that are familiar with these modern techniques. In a job-hopping domain where knowledge retention is nonetheless crucial, facilitating rapid capacity-building is also essential.
In the small humanitarian’s GIS and information management world, these techniques can be particularly useful as they help non-specialists and technophobic people to acquire skills easily and comfortably.
However maps and information management are often seen as an inborn capacity (“Anyone can use Google Maps or can store their data on their computer” are phrases that are often heard) and, far from humanitarian aid, one is therefore often walking on eggshells when bringing up the idea of these types of trainings in this field. It takes a lot of time and energy for technical staff in these organisations to prove how important proper information management can be and that it is a skill that most people need to acquire.
Good examples of international organisations in advance in terms of new training techniques in the area of Information Management is UNHCR with their SENS training program (http://www.sens.unhcr.org/) to help with a standardised methodology for conducting nutrition surveys in refugee populations or their TIME training on information management (http://data.unhcr.org/imtoolkit/), with ded icated online toolkits and classroom material, and a wide public of attendees. They (and other organisations such as ACAPS) help others see the importance of real training in this domain and how useful new techniques can be.
For the organisations that have not managed yet to set up this type of strategy to increase GIS and information management literacy, it is vital to think up new ways to help people at all levels and in all areas of interest of the organisation to adapt. This can be done to begin with by internal communication, awareness raising, and by proving through use-cases the added value and the cost-saving that they can entail for all.
There are of course reasons why traditionally there are not many individualised eLearning courses available in the humanitarian world: whilst more and more people do have a good connectivity even in the field, they are simply too busy to follow an online training course and stay focused while having to complete their day to day work often in difficult settings. Taking time out to complete a course in a nice environment, and in a relaxed learning atmosphere with additionally the possibility to network and exchange face to face is something that humanitarians occasionally need to readjust their picture and connect with others outside their usual setting. However, maintaining those events, taking time out and getting people together has become a challenge and hence new ways to teach -especially aspects or topics that can easily be broken down into small pieces and be digested in small learning units -have to be explored.
There are already MOOCs and M-learning solutions available, predominantly in the area of Health, it remains to be seen if other sectors pick this up and make these available. TechChange now offers to use their platform to build your own courses through their Enterprise program- it will probably be another incentive for developing such trainings in more areas.
CartONG stays committed to keeping up with new techniques and in order to learn from training specialists has staged a “Train the Trainer” staff training this year with Bioforce. It was very helpful to get tips from a specialist on what to improve, especially on our overall training strategies. In fact, whether it is for e-learning or more traditional classrooms trainings, the basics of quality trainings remain the same: fitting the content to the audience, participation, focus on the operational uses, teaching atmosphere, etc.
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- The CartONG team