The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is a global network of organizations that work together to provide shared communications services in humanitarian emergencies. The ETC is one of the 11 clusters designated by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).
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 the response community in their life-saving operations. Within four weeks, ETC services are expanded for continued emergency relief.
Through its ETC2020 strategy, the cluster is evolving 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