Blog post

Roger that! COMCEN in Aden becomes operational

Since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen in 2015, Aden, the fourth largest city in the country, has been severely affected. The ongoing war has had an impact on a large number of facilities in the city, including World Food Programme’s premises, as well as on infrastructure. Aden is one of the six locations identified by the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster- led by WFP- as a priority for the deployment of live-saving communications services in the country.

Hani Mohammed, WFP ICT officer and ETC’s focal point in Aden, has seen first-hand how all the IT infrastructure they worked so hard to build in the WFP Field Office was buried under rubble after an airstrike struck the building next to the field office in mid-2015.

“Vital IT equipment, such as satellite kits and generators were unusable,” Hani explains. “Most of the communications devices in the Communications Centre (COMCEN) such as High Frequency (HF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) base stations and the telephone system were inoperative.”

Photo credit: WFP Aden

This COMCEN in the field office was used mainly by the security officer to communicate with WFP staff carrying out field missions but the war left staff without any reliable means of communication.

So at the start of May 2016, during a slight improvement in the security situation in this coastal city, Hani and the rest of the WFP IT team worked around the clock to restore the ICT infrastructure in the office. This would allow WFP colleagues to resume their work from the office again as they had been working from home.

The WFP IT unit in Aden then focused on refurbishing the COMCEN equipment itself, as they understood the importance of security telecommunications when it comes to staff security and safety. After putting their lives on the line commuting from home to work as the situation on the streets was still fragile, the team successfully activated the COMCEN at the WFP Field Office in Aden in July. This is good news for the ETC in Yemen, as it will be used as an ETC security telecommunications back-up in case the inter-agency UNDSS COMCEN stops being functional.

A big thank you to the WFP IT unit in Aden for their commitment and contribution to the humanitarian operation!

By Erika Iglesias, Information Management Officer, WFP IT Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch