iMMAP Afghanistan has successfully completed an Information Management (IM) and Geographic Information System (GIS) training program for 13 IM/GIS Assistants, seconded from iMMAP to the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)/State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs (SMDM), the designated national authorities for disaster management in the country. The training program, which started in mid-April, covered a range of IM and GIS tools, including the Global Positioning System (GPS), Google Earth Pro, the National Disaster Management Information System, and the Afghanistan Spatial Data Center (ASDC) - an interactive web-based geospatial platform developed by iMMAP Afghanistan as part of the USAID funded Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Program.
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Kabul, the training program had to be adapted and was delivered remotely. At the time this represented a first for the trainers - as well as the participants - and although challenges were encountered, such as power cuts and unstable internet connections, the participants expressed their satisfaction with the training. The completion of this training program allows the IM/GIS Assistants to support the planning and implementation of emergency response operations to effectively and efficiently assist the Afghan people when disasters occur.
The fully operational IM/GIS Assistants have since been deployed to the Provincial Disaster Management Committees of their respective provinces, where they are providing technical support by developing cooperative data exchange systems, mapping natural hazards, and promoting the use of the ASDC for relevant stakeholders, amongst other responsibilities. In time the IM/GIS Assistants will also deliver their own capacity strengthening activities for provincial Information Management Officers, in coordination with ANDMA/SMDM.
Mr. Ahmad (4th from left) IM/GIS Assistant, taking part in a post-disaster assessment of agricultural land destroyed by flooding in the village of Qalcha, located in Anaba district of Panjsher province
Mr. Ahmad, IM/GIS Assistant deployed to ANDMA/SMDM’s Provincial Office in Panjsher, northeastern Afghanistan, has been particularly active since his deployment.
Soon after his deployment, Mr. Ahmad had to put his recently learned skills and knowledge into action when he supported ANDMA/SMDM’s response to flooding which occurred in Shutul, Anaba, and Abdara districts of Panjsher Province, from July 12 – 15th. The floods caused widespread damage to homes, agricultural land, and infrastructure, including, roads, bridges, and a small hydroelectric power station. 1,726 families were reportedly affected. By collecting GPS coordinates of the affected areas and reporting them to ANDMA/SMDM’s main office in Kabul, he was able to support their quick response to the disaster.
I visited Anaba and Shutul districts as part of ANDMA/SMDM’s joint assessment team. We assessed the incident area, specifically I specified the GPS coordinates, latitude, and longitude of the affected areas through my phone and shared the initial incident report, along with the area coordinate points, with the ANDMA/SMDM main office for the response and support of people affected.
One of the maps produced by Mr. Ahmad, using the ASDC, displaying the location of a canal which was destroyed by flooding
The completion of this training program and subsequent deployment of the seconded personnel represents a significant step forward in iMMAP’s DRR capacity strengthening activities in Afghanistan and its close and longstanding support to ANDMA/SMDM. It also marks a key milestone in the plan to fully handover the ASDC - the most advanced geoportal on Afghanistan - to ANDMA/SMDM.
Supported by USAID, iMMAP has been actively providing technical support to the Afghan Government since 2010 to coordinate preparedness and response for the numerous natural hazards that occur in the country every year and result in the loss of lives, livelihoods, and property.