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Angel Buitrago is an IT officer in the World Food Programme (WFP)’s regional bureau in Panama. Here he provides a first-hand account of his use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), or drones, during an emergency — and discusses the huge potential for this fast-evolving technology in tackling and preventing humanitarian catastrophes.
Hurricanes strike the Caribbean
When Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean between August and September 2017, we decided to do a pilot with a single drone, to see if we could support assessments.
Today’s global challenges continue to grow. We currently have five ongoing emergencies ranked at the highest level of operational complexity and urgency in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, in the Syria region and Yemen. While the majority of these are conflict emergencies, the frequency of natural disasters is also on the rise – with Cyclone Winston hitting Fiji in February 2016 and Hurricane Matthew striking Haiti last October. The need to strengthen preparedness and resilience is becoming more and more critical.
2015 was a year of transformation for the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC). The adoption of the ETC2020 Strategy in the first half of the year, radically expanding the vision, scope and approach of the cluster, set the network on a much more impactful, but challenging, trajectory. 2015 was characterised by the adoption and commenced implementation of ETC2020 as well as the most concurrent emergencies ever responded to; and the invaluable contributions of its members and partners without which, the ETC would not exist.
Guidance for responders leading Emergency Telecommunications Cluster operations
In 2005, when the Cluster Approach was introduced, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) was activated in one emergency – the Pakistan earthquake. By 2015, the ETC was responding to eight humanitarian emergencies across the globe, concurrently.
Dubai, 30 May 2016 – From the migrant crisis in Europe, to the earthquake in Nepal, the ability to communicate is essential to humanitarian emergency operations. World-leading satellite operators and integrators: Arabsat, EMC, Eutelsat, Hispasat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Thuraya and Yahsat are conducting technical training for humanitarian personnel starting in Dubai this week, to support the provision of communications to all those responding to emergencies including affected populations.
Local communities are the first responders, and all those supporting the emergency operation will have access to vital communications services. By 2020 that is. But the ETC network still has a few years before we realise this vision, so what happens if there’s an earthquake, tsunami or typhoon tomorrow?
World-leading satellite operators step up support for the global humanitarian community
Disaster-affected populations will be at the heart of ETC 2020 - a new strategy for a network of committed partners creating communications environments for quick, effective and accountable humanitarian response.
ETC2020 is the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster's (ETC) new strategy to create a communications environments for quick, effective and accountable humanitarian action. It seeks to enable an emergency response environment that provides humanitarians, citizens and governments with a seamless and resilient communications experience, grounded in humanitarian principles. And all this is to be achieved by 2020.
LUXEMBOURG – Five days of international cooperation and innovation begin in Luxembourg on Monday with the Humanitarian Information and Communications Technology Week. The week will bring together representatives from the UN, the Luxembourg government, private sector, non-governmental organisations and other groups to discuss how technology can improve international disaster response. Key themes will include preparing for the next emergency, understanding the latest trends and developments in technology in the developing world and building the partnerships needed to deliver in a crisis.
Mariko Hall from the IT Emergency Coordination branch of the World Food Programme – leading organisation of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster – outlines what the relief community is learning in terms of technology in humanitarian response.