Mozambique - Floods: Mission completed. Three communication centres deployed to the benefit of 27 organizations

News and Press Release
Originally published
Weeks of heavy rains have triggered flash floods along the Zambezi river and its tributaries, washing away homes, bridges, livestock and crops in four central provinces (Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia). An estimated 285,000 people have been affected by the floods; of these 163,000 have been displaced, with some sheltered in newly established accommodation centres, and some in the resettlement centres created after the fold emergency in 2001 which killed 700 and displaced half a million people.

GSM networks have not been seriously damaged but the floods have affected areas where no traditional Internet connection was available.

3 Communication Centres available to the humanitarian community

In coordination with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Unicef, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) responded to the emergency by deploying a first communication centre at the office of the National Disaster Management Institute of Mozambique (INGC) in Caia, only 24 hours after the activation of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) on February 15th. Caia is indeed one of the most affected zones where a majority of NGO are based. The town soon became the coordination hub for humanitarian operations.

The GSM network is available but often saturated and no traditional Internet connection is available. During TSF's 1 month mission, 24 organizations involved in relief operations (90% of agencies on site) benefited from TSF's centre connected to Internet via Inmarsat BGan with an average number of 25 users per day.

NGOs such as MSF, Oxfam, World Vision, or the Red Cross and United Nations agencies World Food Programme (WFP), Unicef and the World Health Organization (WHO) used TSF's broadband connectivity.

On February 19th, TSF deployed a second satellite based communication centre in Mutarara where many NGOs are also present. 7 organizations benefited from TSF's connection. A third centre was opened in Mopeia on February 27th to the benefit of 8 organizations. In Mopeia, as there was no GSM network, TSF also put available satellite phone lines. More than 13 hours of satellite communications were offered to the humanitarian community.

On February 22nd, Hurricane Favio slammed into the coast, knocking down buildings, uprooting trees and killing five people near Vilanculos and affected an additional 150,000 people. Electricity was cut off but no needs for emergency telecommunications were identified.

90% of organizations on site benefited from TSF

Open from 8am to 9pm, 7 days a week, TSF's 3 centres enabled aid agencies to communicate assessments and situation reports, better coordinate their operations and regularly follow the weather forecast to anticipate potential floods. Agencies on the ground were also able to follow the progress of Hurricane Favio and paper and digital copies of UNOSAT satellite imageries were put available. In total more than 7 GB of data were transferred via Inmarsat Bgan, that is to say the biggest volume of data transferred since signing the partnership with the United Nations in May 2006.

TSF deployed within the ETC

Within the framework of the partnership with the United Nations and as part of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) TSF implemented phase I of the emergency response and the transition to phase II. TSF completed its mission on March 15th, 1 month exactly after deploying.

TSF's emergency crew was notably composed of volunteers from the Asian Institute of Technology based in Bangkok and from the University of Mont-de-Marsan, France.

According to a report published by INGC on March 14th, the overall number of affected people has risen to about 500,000 and many will not be able to return to their homes for several weeks.

This mission is coordinated with OCHA and implemented in partnership with the Vodafone Group Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and TSF's partners listed at the bottom of this release.

This is TSF's 5th deployment with the United Nations since signing the partnership with UN OCHA and Unicef in May 2006. TSF already deployed to Suriname, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lebanon.