The ETC team installing a repeater at Domiz refugee camp, outside Dohuk. Photo: WFP/Adam Ashcroft
The ETC team installing a repeater at Domiz refugee camp, outside Dohuk. Photo: WFP/Adam Ashcroft

The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is a global network of organizations that work together to provide common communications services in humanitarian emergencies.

Timely, predictable, and effective information and communications technology (ICT) services provided by the ETC support improved:

  • Response and coordination among humanitarian organizations
  • Operational security environment for staff and assets
  • Decision-making through timely access to critical information.

Within 48 hours of a disaster, the ETC provides vital security communications services and voice and internet connectivity to assist humanitarian workers in their life-saving operations. Within four weeks, ETC services are expanded for continued emergency relief.

Currently in the tactical planning phase, the ETC 2020 Vision will see the cluster evolve from being primarily a service provider, to broker, facilitator and convenor of technology in emergency response.

Partnering for Effective Emergency Response

United Nations agencies and programmes, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Stand-by Partners, government, private sector and other humanitarian organizations partner with the ETC to fulfil its mandate and objectives. In emergency situations, members exchange information and expertise and provide personnel, equipment and solutions.

Services are deployed in defined ‘common operational areas', i.e. areas approved by the Humanitarian Country Team in which the majority of UN agencies and NGOs are based.

Services for the Response Community

Staff from all humanitarian organizations can use ETC services, regardless of membership. In the West Africa Ebola response operation, ETC internet connectivity services are available to all organizations involved in efforts to fight the virus, including medical workers and national response teams.  

ETC activities are field-driven, with plans and projects reviewed and endorsed by local working groups. Communications services provided by the ETC in the different phases of an emergency operation are outlined in the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Service Catalogue.

Representatives from aid organizations interested in participating in inter-agency ICT services and information-sharing can attend local working group meetings.

Becoming an ETC Member

Organizations which have an interest in humanitarian assistance, will support the achievement of the mandate of the ETC and can commit to making a positive contribution to the ETC, can become an ETC member.

ETC membership is open to all Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) members. Non-IASC members can submit a request to the ETC Secretariat to attend the bi-annual Plenary Meetings as an observer and submit a formal membership application.

Contributing to the ETC

Private sector, government and humanitarian organisations can support the ETC in different ways:

  • In-kind Donations
  • Cash Donations
  • Stand-by Capacity