WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lost in the shuffle of humanitarian aid is the fact that most of the nations benefitting from nonprofit intervention and federal funding lack basic infrastructure. While this may be blatantly obvious when we consider clean water, good food, and shelter, we forget that a crisis can hit any country quickly and unpredictably. Moreover, there are always barriers to getting aid where it needs to go.
Overcoming those obstacles and helping other nonprofits and international aid lenders is the Information Management & Mine Action Programs group, or iMMAP as the organization is commonly known. iMMAP has proven to be invaluable in the face of crisis by offering key reconnaissance and information to other groups about natural barriers to aid dispersion and accounting for man-made barriers like land mines.
iMMAP was born in 1998 as “…the first internationally-coordinated effort to combine information management, sociology and Geographic Information Systems technology to address the needs of disaster management and development partners.” They exist now as the first call for aid givers who need more concise information for decision making. Their partners include nongovernmental and international organizations like the United Nations, federal governments, and international firms.
According to the organization’s website, “iMMAP has provided relief and development services in more than 40 countries and is currently working in ten countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Georgia to address post-conflict challenges. iMMAP also extends its services to public sector organizations for building information management capacity in natural and manmade disaster mitigation, preparedness, and management in countries that include Kenya, Thailand, and Pakistan.”
When relied upon by governments or the United Nations throughout its history, iMMAP has been asked to do a multitude of things key to infrastructure development. These include emergency management, geographical mapping, natural disaster preparedness assessments, land mine impact surveys, disaster risk reduction information coordination, and remote sensing. Partnering with the U.S. State Department and their Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement/Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, iMMAP has helped to curb the flow illegal weaponry and clear areas of land mines. This is a crucial part of the U.S. State Department’s policy goals in areas affected by armed conflict or civil unrest. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is a multi-agency effort composed of other humanitarian organizations, all relying on intelligence from iMMAP.
The software from iMMAP is easy to navigate and any field data can be inputed toward a solution. Known as the Common Operating Picture (COP), mapping capabilities covering disasters or conflict zones are easily accessible and comprehensive. iMMAP’s OASIS program, which goes hand in hand with COP, is even available for use offline and both systems are useful in any field environment.
Information management is highly valuable for organizations or governments who want to safely implement aid or offer assistance to people, especially in zones lacking technological and basic infrastructure. iMMAP is a relevant and indispensable partner for fighting poverty and enacting large scale change.
– David Smith