Request for volunteers: monitoring Nigerian elections

This is not an activation of the Standby Task Force

Request for assistance

Elections in Nigeria are coming up, and CODE has asked us for support with geolocation and categorization of observer- and citizen reports to their Ushahidi instance.

The elections will take place on

  • Saturday, March 28 (Presidential and National House of Assembly) and
  • Saturday, April 11 (Governors and State House of Assembly)

The overall project

CODE has developed Uzabe ( ) to observe the 2015 elections in Nigeria and create situation awareness on election day processes and emergencies pre, during and after elections.

Reports will be generated from CODE’s 300+ observers (this number might grow to 1000+ as they are in partnership talks w/ other observing organizations) in 31 states of the country.

The role of the Standby Task Force

CODE is asking for SBTF members to help with:

Media Monitoring: To help with “creating reports” from Facebook, Twitter and some news coming from the media.

Geo-location: To help with Geo-locating reports. They already have Polling Unit Location Guide.

Report team: To help with categorizing, verifying and approving reports. They already have category checklist.

Links to more information are on the Ning (only available to SBTF members).

Sign up now

CODE are asking for volunteers for: March 28 and March 29 and for April 11 and April 12.

Links to more information and the sign-up forms are on the Ning (only available to SBTF members).

This is not a Standby Task Force activation but we know that many volunteers will want to assist. Several members of the core team will be taking part.

If you have any questions about this request for volunteers please contact Per in the core team: skype: per_aarvik

Update #9 on Vanuatu and confirmation that we have stood down

+++ Stand down for Vanuatu deployment as of 2300 UTC 22 March 2015 +++

It’s been a very full week (and then some)

When it became clear that TC Pam had hit Vanuatu on Friday 13 March 2015, members of the core team started making preparations for an activation. One of our activation criteria is that The SBTF will activate only under the request of a third party. We made sure that the relevant agencies knew we were available and understood our capabilities.

We received a request from UN-OCHA via the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) and the Standby Task Force was activated at 1930 UTC 17 March 2015.

We used the MicroMappers platform to process images from Twitter and provide us with a feed of relevant pictures of damage. Our volunteer (GeoClickers) then placed these on this map.

Volunteers also found images of damages from news reports, social media and other online sources. Volunteers then worked out through cunning geekery, and in some cases the Verily platform, the location on the ground the photo depicted. These photos were mapped using the ArcGIS story platform.


And here:

We also created an information management resource. This has been an incredible piece of collaborative research and information management.

It includes:

  • a database of agencies from across the globe who are sending teams to Vanuatu. This means they all know who else is there. They can get in touch, coordinate and share information avoid duplication and speed up response.
  • a database of contact details of individuals from responding agencies who are currently based in Vanuatu.
  • a database of assessments of different aspects of the situation undertake by different agencies. Each agency may have assessed different aspect of needs or different areas of Vanuatu. Combined with our database of every relevant map we can track down this helps every single responder build a better picture of the real situation, again reducing duplication and improving response.

At the end of our deployment we had 940 line items on our database made up of over 5400 data points.

What happens next

We’ll be undertaking, and publishing to the network, an after action review. The core team will be looking at how we can all work together to improve processes for the next activation.

One thing we already know for sure is that we want to recruit more coordinators. The role of coordinator is absolutely crucial. Having good coordinators available 24/7 makes all the difference to all of us on a deployment. Our coordinators are fabulous but we need more of them to share the load across the team.

If you have volunteered on at least two deployments and would enjoy the chance to support, encourage and help other volunteers on future deployments please volunteer as a coordinator right now. If you’d like to volunteer or to find out more contact Jus or Per.

Jus: skype: fidget01

Per skype: per_aarvik

The situation at 1839 UTC 22 March 2015

Our own data shows that the rate of work on the ground is starting to increase. Many agencies have staff in the country and coordination activity is ramping up.

  • Half of Vanuatu’s population, spread over 22 islands, has been affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
  • Vanuatu’s President has declared a State of Emergency across all six provinces of Vanuatu.
  • 166,000 people are estimated to be in need of food assistance for the next three months.
  • Shelter, food, health and water, sanitation and health (WASH) remain key needs.
  • Tropical Cyclone Pam has severely compromised the livelihoods of at least 80 per cent of Vanuatu’s rural population.

Many agencies across the globe are running public appeals for financial assistance. The people of Vanuatu will need huge amounts of assistance to rebuild.

A final, personal, note

This has been my first deployment as a member of the core team and as one of the deployment leads. I have been genuinely moved and amazed by the time and effort, care and professionalism, good humour and commitment shown by so many of our fellow volunteers.

I am, genuinely and incredibly proud to be part of this network, to be able to work with you and all our fellow volunteers, to be able to make a difference and to help. Together we have made a difference. Together we can do amazing things.

I hope you’ve found these updates helpful. I look forward to working with you all in the future.

If you’ve got any questions, comments, or suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype. or

Update #8 on Vanuatu and on our deployment there

Status of our deployment

Our deployment has been extended until 2300 UTC Sunday.

Our MicroMapping work has ended but volunteers are still mapping data where this will be useful to responders. Like this map of hotels and their status (open/damaged/closed etc) across the country

All our efforts are now focused on building the best information resource we can to assist responding agencies. We can really help speed things up and reduce duplication and waste by pulling all the key information together into a single place. There are 880 line items in our resource right now but we know there is more information out there.

It’s a hard grind now because we already have so much data collated but this is where we potentially add the most value. By hunting out the details that responders will find hardest to locate, we have the chance to save humanitarian agencies the most time.

We tried to give a flavour of how our resources are being used in yesterday’s update which is available on the Ning and on the Blog in case you missed it.

One last push to the line

So many of you have already worked so hard. The finish line is in sight now. We’re asking for one final push to provide the best resource we can to help the international community help the people of Vanuatu.

We still need volunteers and coordinators right up to 2300 UTC Sunday.

There is still work for new volunteers. In fact new volunteers might help bring new perspectives to the task.

If you haven’t signed up yet, there is still time to do so.

Feel free to contact any of us direct if you have any questions before signing up.

  • The situation at 1400 UTC 21 March 2015
  • The Government of Vanuatu has prioritised Shelter, Water, Health and Food assistance for the initial emergency response. Transport of relief items to provinces is now underway.
  • The Vanuatu Mobile Force is helping to deliver water on Efate. Clean drinking water remains a critical need.
  • A food assistance program will target 33,365 households (162,000 people) in affected regions.
  • 3,995 people are currently housed in 39 evacuation centres in and around Port Vila.
  • 16 people are now confirmed dead.


This is from a statement issued yesterday by the (UN) Humanitarian Coordinator for Vanuatu, Osnat Lubrani

I have been briefed by a UN assessment team that returned today from the islands of Ngona, Pele and Emau, three of the most remote northern islands. Water is a serious problem, with the contamination of water sources a grave health threat, particularly to children. Food stocks are limited as vegetable gardens have been wiped out – a concern for food security and as a source of livelihoods. Several of the health centres and schools have been severely damaged.


Despite the devastation, it is clear that preparedness measures taken by the Government, including the use of traditional building materials, community sensitization and well-drilled early warning systems helped reduce the impact of this disaster.

Keep in touch

If you’ve got any questions, comments, or suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype. or

Know hope SBTF.

Update #7 on Vanuatu and on our deployment there

Status of our deployment

We thought it was time to give you a flavour of the difference you volunteers are making on the ground:

Our relevant information has been uploaded to (the UN-OCHA online repository)  All responders now to have access to this data.

One of the most powerful lists we have created is the responders list. We are tracking who says they are going into country and what their objective is. When organisations arrive in Vanuatu they can coordinate into and join clusters because they know who is there and who is coming.

Imagine going into a country and starting without any phone numbers. That’s the situation for most responders. We have collated a contact list for relevant workers on the ground which is used by all agencies.

Our hospital location list, airfield information and communications information are being used by responders on the ground and virtually.

Our list of maps (not just our maps) means responders can find and download the mapping data they need to do their jobs.

Our photo maps are being used by responders to get a handle on the overall situation.

Keera (SBTF volunteer, core team alumnus and now at ESRI)  with Fern and Stacey (also from Esri) analysed and mapped the most relevant photographs with great results. It has, of course, been shared with all agencies. Thank you so much

The situation at 2000 UTC 20 March 2015

Distribution of emergency aid continues to communities.

The Government is leading joint Initial Rapid Needs Assessments.

Priority needs emerging from assessments are for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); particularly potable water, food, shelter and health.

Widespread damage to crops has prompted the Vanuatu Government to include seed packs for replanting in planned distributions.

Humanity Road issues regular sitreps

Humans of Vanuatu

This was posted by the Humans of Vanuatu Facebook page about 12 hours ago

Just watched a barge loaded with relief supplies steaming down the channel, destination: Epi island. Never thought something so homely could be so beautiful. I think we just might make it through this. There are months of hard, hard work ahead, but I’m beginning to think we can do this.

Know hope.

We still need your help

We remain activated until 2300 UTC Sunday 22 March 2015.

Our focus is the information management document. We need volunteers right up to the end of the deployment to keep searching for contact details, details of responses and other information to help responders across Vanuatu.

If you have already signed up for the deployment please just keep on working.

If you haven’t signed up, please sign up now.

There are plenty of tasks for people who are new to SBTF. What you may not know is that there is an awesome group of support people available by Skype 24×7 to ensure the time they commit is productive and fun, and there are lots of unexpected ways of being really helpful (this edit was suggested by one of those awesome people, which kind of proves the point).

If you want to join Standby Task Force apply now.

Keep in touch

If you’ve got any questions, comments, or suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype. or

Know hope SBTF.

Jus skype: fidget01

Ben skype: likeaword

Joyce skype: joyce.monsees

Online volunteers extend their work to support response in Vanuatu

Volunteer network Standby Task Force will extend its deployment in support of Vanuatu until Sunday 22 March 2015. The deployment has originally been expected to end on Friday 20 March 2015.

The Standby Task Force, a network of volunteer “crisis-mappers” is working at the request of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

They are collating a resource to help agencies responding to the crisis better understand the situation and work more effectively with each other on the ground. The amount of information has been increasing over the past day and so the decision has been taken to extend the deployment to capture as much useful data as possible.

They have also been sifting through images of the damage and publishing the relevant images on maps to help agencies plan their response. This phase of the work has now been completed.

The maps are available online:

Joyce Monsees is a member of the Standby Task Force core team with responsibility for volunteer engagement. She is one of the leads for the deployment

She said:

“ I continue to be amazed by the global spirit of this group. Our members come from all corners of the earth, but they share the desire to help those in need. I see them help out on their lunch hour, in between classes or after they have put their kids to bed. It is truly a wonderful world we live in when complete strangers dedicate time together to help people whom they will never meet..

The Standby Task Force was created in 2010 and brings together hundreds of digital humanitarians from over 80 countries.

For media enquiries contact Ben Proctor @likeaword skype:likeaword

Update #6 on Vanuatu and on our extended deployment there

+++ Activation EXTENDED until 2300 UTC SUNDAY 22 March 2015 +++

We know this is a big ask when so many of you have already worked so hard. We thought long and hard about this. We know this is the right thing to do.

Because of Vanuatu’s location and infrastructure, we have seen a delay in information becoming available. Normally by this stage in a deployment we would be starting to wind down, but actually we are seeing more information published and more requests for our information.

We would like to extend the activation until Sunday evening to capture as much as we can.

Please help

We know how much you have given already but we really need to ask you to give a little more.

If you have already signed up for this deployment, please just keep working.

If you haven’t signed up yet, please consider joining; we really need all hands on deck for these final three days.

Volunteer as a coordinator

Our coordinators have been great all the way through the deployment. It’s a crucial role supporting, encouraging and advising volunteers in the chat room. We can always use more coordinators.

If you’ve been working during this deployment and would like to volunteer to help out as a coordinator during the rest of the deployment, please get in touch.

Status of our deployment

Most of our image mapping work has finished. We have produced two maps in this deployment which are available to responders, and our friends at ESRI are looking at presenting the data in additional ways to help different responders.

The maps are available online:

Our focus is now on the information management task. This includes collating information about who is responding, who to contact and other data that can be used as a key resource for all humanitarian organisations working to support Vanuatu.

We have 750 lines of data but we need more and we need to enrich the data we already have.

The situation at 1930 UTC 19 March 2015

60% of the population in Shefa and Tafea has no access to clean drinking water. Food supplies in affected areas, particularly in Erromango, are running critically low.

Around 82,000 children have been affected by Cyclone Pam. More than 3,300 people are sheltering in 48 evacuation centres.

The Vanuatu Daily Post is up and running and publishing again.

Humanity Road issues regular sitreps

Update #5 on Vanuatu and on our deployment there

Thank you!

So many of you have responded to the activation. It is simply amazing to see what you are achieving.

There are over 70 images on the Standby Task Force story map

There are over 600 images on the MicroMapper map

Over 600 lines of data have been added to the information management resource we are collating for responding agencies.

Volunteers from across the globe have donated their time and expertise to create these resources which are being used right now by humanitarian agencies responding in Vanuatu.


Our task is not yet over.

We still need your help

As power is restored to more of the islands and as more people have access to communications, we are getting more information about the situation and how it is affecting the people of Vanuatu.

If you have not yet been able to join the deployment, please consider signing up to help out. Even a few minutes can make a real impact.

Sign up now

Not trained? You can still help

If you have not been through training yet, there are still opportunities to support the creation of the information management document. Coordinators and other volunteers will be there to support you in the Skype chat room.

So please sign up now

The situation at 2030 UTC 18 March 2015

The fate of at least 20 000 people living in the country’s southern islands remains unclear. The impact of Cyclone Pam will be long lasting with the need to rebuild health and infrastructure systems beyond this initial emergency phase.

Aerial assessments and surveys from Red Cross volunteers in different provinces across Vanuatu report unprecedented damage to crops including banana, cassava, coconuts and vegetables. The food security cluster is estimating that the food situation will become critical within the next two weeks. They are working with the government and logistics cluster so that routes to reach the outer islands are identified.

Keep in touch

If you’ve got any questions, comments, or suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype.