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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping, Humanitarian Action, Technology » CRS in Morocco

CRS in Morocco

Looking back at our original program design
As a reminder, our original program design was to alleviate poverty by:
Immediately providing disaster relief to the affected low socio-economic populations in the coastal shantytowns of Rabat and later creating jobs to encourage sustainable economic self-sufficiency.

1. Sending in aid supplies
a. Assessing the situation through communication with existing relief organizations
b. Using supplies to stimulate the economy such as recirculating money and putting in more money

2. Creating jobs
a. temporary relief-oriented jobs
b. restarting previous sources of employment and income such as agriculture and the phosphate mining industry.

Given our lack of experience in Morocco, including language and sociocultural barriers, it proved to be a wise decision to limit our target population to only the low social economic status areas of Rabat. It is difficult to identify operational problems when we are not actually responding to the crisis or simulating a response. At this point, our plans seem manageable.

That said, one of the things we may do differently is to draw on the existing resources of the affected population. While we noted in our original plan our desire to collaborate with them, we now realize just how important this is. We should avoid coming in with the flawed mentality that we are there to “save” them; rather we should act in partnership, in recognition of the skills that each side brings to the table. As such, distribution of supplies should be carried out in conjunction with the population. We hope to be in constant communication with the leaders of the community (either existing leaders, or those chosen to represent the community), so we can understand the local situation better and plan accordingly. This should also strengthen community empowerment which may be a very important factor in re-building the community after this disaster.

Moving off of that is the realization of the importance of culture and language in implementation. We realized that the assumptions we made, such as being able to overcome cultural differences, are major assumptions that may not hold in reality. Yet, being able to form a relationship with the people is crucial. As such, we will include as a preparation process an intensive attempt to understand the culture of Morocco beforehand. Our team that works in Morocco will include people who speak the language and are familiar with their culture. This would preferably include people who live in Morocco or have previously lived there.

Making use of crisis mapping tools
We explored a number of technologies – open street maps, crowdmap, google earth and frontline sms.

Open street maps could be incredibly useful to map the shantytowns on a map, that can then be exported onto crowdmap as the base map. In other words, it would be used as the first step, prior to using the other technologies. As we realized when using crowdmap, there is little cartographic data of shantytowns on existing maps since shantytowns are by their nature relatively unknown. This could make relief efforts in shantytowns difficult. Open street maps could then be used to circumvent this problem. A foreseeable problem would be getting the information to update open street maps. To solve this, we could collaborate with our contacts on the ground, as well as locals, to gather information that we could then input into open street maps.

Crowdmap would be used during both the short and long term stages of our project. In the short term, it may be helpful to input reports about need for food, aid, water etc, so that we could then send members to distribute aid, or rely the information to other aid organizations.
It could also help us to locate the major sources of short and long term employment, such as temporary disaster relief work in the short term, and the fishing, agriculture and phosphate mining industry in the long run.

Google Earth could be used throughout the entire process – both in the short term, but especially in the long term. It would be useful to understanding the situation on the ground, particularly by providing pictures that give a more vivid picture. It could also be used to map out the roads and pathways from one key point to another (e.g. hospital to airport etc) and to pinpoint the important areas. It could also provide explanatory information, such as videos and links that provide more info on CRS and its partners on the ground, or about earthquakes in general. Further, Google Earth would be an effective tool for monitoring and evaluating, as its historical timeline allows us to compare time periods to see whether our efforts are working.

Google Earth would primarily be a tool for our collaborators in Morocco, as the maps tend to be full of information, but complicated from a pedestrian standpoint. For similar reasons, Google Earth maps would be a good communication method to the financial donors.

Frontline SMS would be most useful if the contact number were publicized immediately at the onset of the crisis, although it could have long-term applications. In the short term, text messages could alert our organization about immediate needs for food, shelter, etc. It could also later be used to monitor the impact of our economic relief efforts. People could send us reports about household income and industry success so that we could assess our efficacy in providing jobs in the area.

What benefit could this have?
We are hopeful that using crisis mapping tools will allow or program to be more adjusted to the situation on the ground. Crisis mapping tools allow us to modify our information sharing systems, and understand the local situation as it happens. As such, we will be able to flexibly adjust our program if need be.

Also, as previously discussed, crisis mapping tools will prove beneficial for both short-term relief and long-term sustainability. Although each tool individually has its advantages and disadvantages towards the relief process, the tools used in conjunction with each other should prove to be especially useful in the necessary steps of providing relief after a natural disaster. The CRS plans to utilize each of the crisis mapping tools and will continue to do so in its future.

In fact, using these crisis mapping tools may prove helpful to the overall situation. Other organisations carrying out aid relief may use information from our crowdmap and google earth to fill in their own knowledge gaps. (And vice versa, we may, of course, do the same thing). Observers may also look at these resources to gain a better picture of the relief efforts on the ground.

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