In July 2019, CartONG conducted a three-week mission in Ethiopia in support of its partner, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
As one of UNHCR’s implementing partners for mapping and Information Management activities, CartONG provided support to the Shelter and Settlement Section in 5 refugee camps in northern Ethiopia: MaiAini, Shimelba, Berahle, Aysaitta and Kebribeyah during the month of July 2019.
The first phase of the support occurred remotely with the organization of a dozen of Mapathons in France. In the second phase, the outputs of the Mapathons were used as a basis for the mobile data collection conducted in the field in order to gather exact locations and attribute information for camp infrastructure as well as additional information necessary for the shelter gap analysis. The third phase of the mission focused on providing data visualization tools to the end-users and sharing collected data back to OSM.
The data created through remote Mapathons prior to the mission - organized in no less than 12 French cities - became important base data for our field and remote support. In order to tell the story of old established refugee camps in Ethiopia and the unique approach UNHCR and CartONG applied to map out 5 camps in the northern part of the country, the team used the format of a story map.
Whilst a story map in the corporate world is often referred to as a graphical product backlog, in GIS, it is a story that is told by using maps, pictures, graphs and data arranged in other formats to make it more visible and appealing for the user. Different tools or platforms can be used to conceive a story map. For the "Echoes from Ethiopia" story map, ESRI technology was used and the story is hosted online.
It is, of course, not the first time that UNHCR has created or used a story map, but usually those are being put together to illustrate a specific situation, to highlight the plight of marginalized populations or to draw attention to unknown facts and figures around displaced people.
"Echoes from Ethiopia" however is used to illustrate the importance of generating maps and data for old established refugee camps and what approach has been used to curate this data - with an information management angle. For UNHCR’s Field Coordination Support Section, this is also an opportunity to raise awareness on data and services around information management.
For CartONG's volunteers who supported the remote mapping of the 5 camps, seeing how everything tied together was a powerful experience as the following statement from D. Montagne will confirm: "After this reading, I was enthusiastic, happy and very emotional to see how the data was used, what analyses were done and how the field work went. After creating buildings from the sky for several weeks, seeing photos of the buildings on the ground is an extraordinary feeling".
* * * * *
If you are interested in creating your own story map, plenty of tips and tricks can be found online in how to conceive a good story.