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News — 10 May, 2010

Haiti, Mission 2 by Mikel

Nicolas Chavent and Dane Springmeyer are now on Haitian soil for HOT.

It was just a few weeks ago that Nicolas and Robert returned from the first HOT mission to Haiti. Nicolas had the immediate conclusion "¦ we have to go back. Something amazing was started with OSM and an interesting cross section of CNIGS (the Haitian national mapping agency), the UN, and civil society. The work had to be seen through, and Nicolas is dedicated for the long term. He's joined now by Dane, adventurous and incredibly skilled technically. Can't wait to see what develops this trip, and immensely proud that OSM is again on the ground in Haiti.

Our greatest thanks go to the World Bank, and especially the Disaster Risk Management group. They are funding this mission, and the next in June. Besides continuing to support the Haitian government in recovering from the quake, the Bank is particularly interested in how OSM can be used in future risk assessment, particularly vulnerable buildings. This mission in Haiti will continue the discussion.

As HOT is still a developing entity, we are also thankful to OpenGeo for providing a vehicle to move so quickly, and to MapAction for sharing their view on assessing risk and insurance.

HOT's work in Haiti is all about continuing the open environment of sharing that developed in the immediate response to the quake. In dedication to that openness, and give a small taste of what it takes to go to Haiti, here is the instruction sent by Nicolas to Dane for guidance on his arrival in Port au Prince. I haven't seen anything like this practical advice posted online before, so here it is.

Airport International Toussaint Louverture

Functional kaos where 

  • you'll be brought to terminal via a van,
  • you'll pass one counter (medic I think),
  • Baggage pick up: baggage will brought to the baggage pick up area from the plane by the Airport personnels (all is handled by hands). In principle the baggage pick up area is restricted to airport personnels only & you are supposed to raise their attention to get your luggage. French for this will He ce bagage (look-up in dictionary for baggage items which are not backpack/ SAC A DOS or suitcase/ VALISE & COLORS, so that you can designate your pieces). Things in practice are more fluid: I managed like many others Haitian to get my stuff personally at the cost of not building friendship which is ok.
  • Call Fred (glad you'll have your IPhone; feel free to borrow a mobile from a foreigner) to check with him how the pick up is organized & follow instructions
  • Customs: no problem for Westerners-
  • Open fenced area outside of the terminal building: this is where that I waited for the driver in mission 1, driver will bear an A4 sheet with your details
  • In case the pick-up went wrong & Fred phone is un-responsive::
  • Do not exit the airport area unless you are with a Westerner in a car who will drop you at the main entry of the UN Logistics Base (LogBase). Prepare for the unlikely to happen worst case scenario (no pickup) while you are on plane and/ or through the baggage collection process and identify Westerners working in LogBase or in PAP who could offer you a lift to LogBase. This could be the only option for you to exit the Airport in a car with Westerner.
  • If no westerner, no car, no dirver, then stay at the airport and be hyper patient and calm until pick up finally comes or that I arrive and I hope we will get things sorted out.

LogBase (CC)

  • both IOM & WFP are located in the UN Logistic Base (LogBase) which is lierally at the end of the runway of the international airport Toussaint Louverture. LogBase is a separate spatial entity from the public international airport which is under the control of the various national air forces of the MINUSTAH (the UN peace keeping mission in Haiti) & consequently you access it from a secured entry point relatively open to Westerners furnished with IDs.
  • Access (main & only entry point) you'll have to mention that you are working with OSM and supporting the GIS (SIG & CARTOGRAPHIE) unit of the Registration (ENREGISTREMENT) Department of IOM (OIM "“ Office International res Migrations) and
  • refer to the GIS Officer/Coordinator of this unit who should have sent an email warning them of our coming. MINUSTAH people at the Gate never read emails (but never admit it), so this generates issues and you have to stand firm and say that you are here to work with IOM and that you must make it to the IOM Office in LogBase to get started and directed to the CampCharlie where you'll be lodging for the rest of the trip
  • if IOM is not impressive enough, then make the name of WFP (the Head of Programes in WFP and a friend).
  • Again if this is not working, wait at the gate with the guard being calm patient and resolute. This area is safe security-wise so a good place to wait, there should be shade. Furnish you with water bottle from the plane or ask the gards to help you buying water or soda-

Camp Charlie (CC)

This is the name of a UN Peace Keeping Mission camp In Haiti where a Danish Hum organization set up a humanitarian camp (all in tents WC, Showers, Kitchen, Dining spaces, lobbies & cubic "“ the name under which your tent place is designated) where we will be staying. You'll reach CC from LB there is a shuttle system put up in place between LogBase and Camp Charlie. It's minimal on Sunday and it's likely that we will be relying on a car and reach CC with Fred-

Mobile phone

I am not 100% sure I"ll manage to get my phone in my commute (train to airport) in Paris since the friend who as it as well as my ext hard drive is likely to be at the maternity welcoming a child"¦ So your iphone (if a SIM card can be loaded in can do good, alternatively if you have an old mobile close to be trashed but functional enough to do text messages & talking it would be worthy to have it with you).