Application of google earth in refugee camp management
Okusimba, Omusotsi George
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Good camp management is essential to ensure that the rights and needs of displaced people living in a camp, refugee or internally displaced, are guaranteed and adhered to. Camp management includes a variety of tasks in different sectors: provision of security, water, food, shelter, health, sanitation, education and other social amenities and often involves many actors, such as the national governments, the local authorities, united nations agencies, non governmental organisations and the displaced persons. Camp management is performed in various ways depending on, among others, funding, available expertise and on the availability and quality of data. It is always necessary to manage information about who is living in the camp and the infrastructure in the camp (shelter, schools, health clinics, water points, latrines, etc). Combined, registration and spatial databases provide critical information that facilitates camp management. Visualizing this information on a map does not only provide the figures and statistics necessary to analyze the situation in the camp, but can also be used to propose solutions. A camp map combined with information about the population is therefore a tool that can be used for planning and decision making and can help in allocating the resources in the most efficient way. This project endevoured to extend the capability of the existing UNHCR’s GIS system based on Google Earth to enable refugee camp managers use the technology in their daily management activities, allowing for visualization, planning, informed decision making and updating of the data and sharing the same with GIS Experts. Based on the data that existed, Google Earth files were created for the three camps; Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo, incorporating the main features within the camps and shared with one manager at the camp for testing. Given his knowledge of the camps, this link person identified features that were missing and those that had changed. He acknowledged the ease with which he was able to learn the system and use it. It is recommended that a training on the use of Google Earth be undertaken to camp managers so that they can make full use of the system.