Special Zaire/Rwanda Volcano Emergency Section A UN ReliefWeb and
GDIN Cooperative Information Exchange
Edited by the
IO Bureau, US Department of State, Washington, DC
See also www.state.gov/www/issues/relief/volcano.html
are two computer-generated images of volcanic activity in former
Zaire at Nyamuragira (Nyamulagira), which together represent a good
understanding of the concept of "right information, right format
to the right people on time." The first was posted on December 3rd,
1996 in response to a request from the UN in Nairobi. It was provided
by the US Department of State as a benefit to relief operations
in former Zaire in order to help relief workers locate some refugees
on a slope, as well as to examine the risk to thousands of refugees
below the volcano. The second image examines the same area at a
later date. These experiences help lead the Department of State
to a new direction in the provision of GIS material, called GDIN,
the Global Disaster Information Network www.gdin.org/.
The Department of State accomplished the mission in about eight
hours in 1996; but the lesson learned from the exercise was that
was needed was an international consortium of providers of GIS and
remote sensing (overhead, ground, ocean, etc). This consortium needs
to be linked as well to people who understand the telecommunications
limitations of the developing world, and also those with an appreciation
of the knowledge base of the recipient. This experience, and similar
ones, is what led State to create the international element of GDIN
the Global Disaster Information Network.
What if the State Department officer that coordinated this effort
had been out that day, could not find a satellite with an appropriate
sensor, or could not cause the owner of the platform to take a "picture?"
There is no Internet in Zaire (now the DRC) and the Internet in
Kenya is weak. What if he had tried to send a real satellite photo
to Nairobi? What he did was fax a black and white GIS product (there
are no color printers near the volcano, email the image to Nairobi
and post it on the Internet in record time. This complex set of
activities is what the organizers of GDIN want to accomplish on
any given day in GDIN, find the right providers who can supply the
right information in the right format to the right people on time.
You will find more information on ReliefWeb. Feel free to copy these
images, but give credit to International Emergency Information Program,
IO/SHA, US Department of State, Washington, DC. Note that the lava
flow does appear to be threatening several populated areas. For
background on this project, go to www.state.gov/www/issues/relief/july6.html
Map of Nyamuragira
Volcano -- 3 December, 1996
also spelled NYAMLAGIRI, volcano in the Virunga Mountains of east-central
Africa, 15, miles (24 km) northeast of Sake, in the volcano region
of Virunga National Park, Congo, (Kinshasa). It is about 10,023
feet (3,055 m) high, with a central crater that last erupted in
1938, when the southwest slope opened, and the lava flow reached
Lake Kivu to the south.
Breaking News on the Volcano, provided by the GDIN Standards Committee:
sends thousands fleeing, endangers water supply. Nairobi/Goma (dpa)
- Tens of thousands of people have fled the slopes of a volcano
near the town of Goma in eastern Congo, a humanitarian official
of Nyamuragira, a 3,055-metre volcano 23 kilometres north of Goma,
is being described as its worst since 1982.
head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
said by telephone from Goma that lava is streaming down the side
of the volcano and gas is spewing out of its craters.
than the lava is the poisonous gas and the ash,'' Winder said. ``The
gas and ash are threatening the drinking water reserves.''
It is not known
whether any deaths have occurred as a result of the eruption of
Nyamuragira, which is one of a chain of volcanoes in this mountainous
part of eastern Congo. Nyamuragira was involved as well in one of
the events that led up to the creation of GDIN.
It is also
unclear how many people are living around the volcano as the area
has been the site of refugee flows in and out. Goma is home to 200,000
people. Winder said the number who have left their homes is in the
tens of thousands.
tell us of a lot of diarrhea and breathing difficulties and a lot
of people are having trouble with their eyes,'' she said. She expressed
concern for food security because settling ash could kill crops.
``If the eruption doesn't stop soon the whole harvest will be damaged,''
she said. The eruption has been going on since February 5. A U.N.
assessment team visited the area in late February and reported that
much cultivated land has already been burnt out by ash, trees have
been destroyed and some water supplies polluted.