accessibility & help

Ecuador earthquake – mapping the disaster

13 May 2016

Ecuadorian Red Cross volunteers in Manta and Portoviejo, Manabi province.

The British Red Cross mapping team is helping the aid effort in Ecuador after the country was hit by an earthquake.

Around 22,000 people are living in temporary shelters one month after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

Our colleagues at the Ecuador Red Cross provided emergency help in the immediate aftermath and are still helping people to recover.

Mapping help

This week the British Red Cross pledged £150,000 to help the Red Cross response.

Some of the money will pay for the deployment of a Red Cross mapping expert to the region, who is supporting volunteers and staff on the ground.

Kat Hicks, from our mapping team in London, said: “In the aftermath of a disaster, the timely use of data makes a real difference.

“In the days after the earthquake we produced maps showing which roads remained accessible to aid convoys in the region.

“Later on we mapped aid deliveries, such as the distribution of jerry cans and tarpaulins, as well as psychological support offered by our teams.

“Maps and data visualisations play a vital role in informing operational decisions during an emergency response.

“They clearly highlight specific needs and requirements during a rapidly evolving situation so that effective decisions can be taken quickly.

"This means we can better target aid and services to where they are most needed.”

Emergency supplies

The earthquake claimed 660 lives and left more than 7,000 injured.

To date, the Ecuador Red Cross has provided health care to more than 50,000 people and some 16,000 have received aid.

Over the next 12 months, the Ecuador Red Cross is aiming to help a further 100,000 people.

Some of our £150,000 pledge has already been used to send 1,000 cleaning kits and 1,000 hygiene kits to affected communities.

The kits include items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, detergent, mops and buckets. Maintaining good hygiene is important to avoid disease outbreaks.

Ben Webster, head of emergencies at the British Red Cross, said: “The earthquake inflicted widespread damage across towns in the north of the country.

“Several weeks later, people are still rebuilding their lives. Public health services are in need of support, while the damage to homes and buildings has left people living along roadsides, in gardens and public spaces.

“It’s great that our mapping team is able to offer invaluable support, both from the affected region and from our London office.

“It highlights how technology can be used alongside traditional methods to deliver an effective emergency response.”

  • Our £150,000 pledge was made up of £140,000 from our Disaster Fund and £10,000 from unsolicited donations. 
  • Our Disaster Fund allows us to respond to emergencies without delay. Please donate today to support our work.
  • Prefer typing to running a marathon? Take part in a mapathon. 

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