Update: Hurricane Maria - TSF supports reconstruction phase

Report
from Télécoms Sans Frontières
Published on 19 Dec 2017 View Original

Three months after the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria, the means of communication are only partially restored in some parts of the island. In the first 48 hours after the impact, TSF was on-site supporting the national authorities as well as the population throughout the emergency phase by providing satellite lines and Internet connections to the benefit of all civilians and local actors.

TSF remains mobilised in the current phase of reconstruction, adapting its response to the restoration of telecommunications by local operators and to the evolution of their uses. The Government of Dominica, having identified TSF as a key actor in the response to the first emergency phase, officially requested the continuity of support in the most remote areas.

Therefore, TSF continues to help the population by maintaining Internet support in Salybia, in the Kalinago territory, where the mobile network is still unstable. This small territory of 15Km² on the north-east coast is inhabited by a native people of the Caribbean.

Following a new assessment of the situation and the needs, TSF undertook the relocation of two VSATs previously installed in areas now covered by stable means of communication:

  • Wesley's connection has been transferred to the village of Saint-Sauveur, an area that is difficult to access because of rugged mountain terrain and where only calls are available at this time. This village being host of different community infrastructures (school, health centre, church, the port), it is thus a central place for the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages.
  • The Portsmouth connection was transferred to the village of Mero, on the west coast, which historically has difficult access to mobile networks due to topography. The goal is to revitalise this region which is mainly dependent on tourism.

Furthermore, TSF is assisting the Government of Dominica in strengthening its emergency telecommunications response capacity with satellite technologies. We donated two VSAT kits and organised the training of two officials from the Ministry of Information, Science, Telecommunications and Technology to ensure their autonomy.

Through its latest assessments, TSF has monitored an evolution in the use of connections that are no longer just a means of contact with loved ones, but are also used by affected communities to restore a certain sense of normality in their daily lives:

"I live in Penville, a village on the northern part of the island, and I have to travel nearly 15 km to go to school every day in Portsmouth. Thanks to the connection installed by TSF, I have access to the Internet so I can do my schoolwork and do researches to better understand what I am learning at school." Leila, resident of Penville - Dominica.