Following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti on the morning of 14 August 2021, the Global ETC has been coordinating with its partners globally and on the ground to assess and respond to the ICT needs for the response. While clusters are not activated, national sectors, including the Emergency Telecommunications Sector (ETS), are supporting the government response efforts.
• A radio network for security communications services in Les Cayes was established thanks to WFP and equipment provided by emergency.lu and UNDSS Haiti.
• ETS partners on the ground have established Internet connectivity at the government operations centres (COUN in Port-au-Prince and the COUD in Les Cayes) and the corresponding on-site Security Operations Coordination Centres (OSOCC) in both places.
• The ETS is continuing to engage with partners to assess the ICT needs of organisations contributing to the humanitarian response. ETS partners are providing connectivity both for humanitarian workers and the affected populations in several communes in the districts of South (Sud), Grand’Anse and Nippes, and are expanding to support needs in new operational areas.
• 11 sectors, including the Emergency Telecommunications Sector, are providing support to the Government of Haiti in responding to the humanitarian needs following the earthquake. All sectors have submitted their initial plan and requirements to the Flash Appeal that was launched by OCHA on 25 August.
• Most major roads between Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes have been cleared, however security remains a major concern, with some incidents reported of armed groups looting aid trucks and even attacking Haitian National Police stations in the most unrestful areas. The logistics sector is organising daily truck convoys from the capital to the affected areas, in addition, a barge service operates between Port-auPrince and the major towns, including Miragoane, Jeremie and Les Cayes.
• The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) continues to provide helicopter transport for humanitarian workers. Requests from registered humanitarian organizations can be sent to email@example.com. Commercial airlines also continue to operate. Requests for the transport of humanitarian cargo by US Military helicopters can be submitted through firstname.lastname@example.org .
• The Global ETC is liaising with REACH, Internews and OCHA’s Accountability to Affected Populations’ Advisor to identify if any joint assessments are planned and to include questions on connectivity, access to radios, and early warning systems. Internews and Fondation Hirondelle are also planning to conduct an assessment on local media capacity.
• Despite some reported damage to infrastructure, local Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are still able to provide voice and data communications in most areas. However, due to poor connection quality and network congestion, VSAT may be required as a backup for humanitarian and government relief operations.
ETS Response Activities
• Runar Holen, a WFP FITTEST (Fast IT and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team) coordinator arrived in Haiti on 23 August to continue the interagency coordination activities initiated by Patrick Midy, WFP Haiti Head of TEC. The first in-person ICT Working Group meeting since the earthquake was held in Les Cayes on 27 August and was attended by responders from emergency.lu, the Finnish Red Cross, Help.NGO, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), UNICEF, and WFP. A WhatsApp group (Haiti ICT working group) has been created to facilitate informal information sharing and coordination among partners on the ground. For access to the group, please contact Haiti.ETS@wfp.org.
• The WFP team has established a VHF radio channel in the twon of Les Cayes, to provide inter-agency security communications services in in the city, through a repeater borrowed from Emergency.lu and additional equipment from UNDSS. This is a temporary installation while the team awaits permission to install permanently at a local ISP’s tower in centre of town. On the ground testing shows relatively good coverage over the key parts of Les Cayes town but coverage in other parts of the district will be limited due to the antenna installation’s low physical height. (Coverage map below.) The repeater uses the same channel/frequencies used in Port-au-Prince. In addition, other duplex and simplex frequencies have been identified and will be utilized in VHF radio network to be established in the town of Jeremie, through a joint effort from UNDSS, WFP and the ETS.