What does it mean to be ready for a natural disaster? For the ETC, being ready has three main components:
- Strong partnerships with local government, the private sector, civil service organisations and humanitarian agencies in place.
- Decentralized response centers are decentralized, because team that is based only in the capital or another large city may not be able to help a rural area quickly or according to their needs.
- Increased communications resilience––maximal protection for communications infrastructure, the ability to restore services in the event of destruction or damage, and a clear plan for joint emergency response with ETC partners.
Essential elements for ETC readiness
- COORDINATION––with government-led groups, local ICT Working Groups, and partnerships with humanitarian agencies, industry, and government.
- TRAINING AND SIMULATION––workshops and trainings that get responders up to speed on the latest tools and how to use them. Some staff take part in simulations that mirror what really happens in an earthquake or a military attack.
- TECHNICAL ASSESSMENTS–– checking that systems and processes are in place.
- REINFORCE INFRASTRUCTURE––upgrade global, regional and national infrastructure, pre-position equipment, promote technical standards, and develop strategic agreements.
- GUIDANCE AND ADVISORY––develop and share support materials and strategic direction are developed, such as the ICT emergency preparedness index and a simulation handbook.
- ADVOCACY––promote the ETC among global players in disaster risk reduction, such as the International Telecommunications Union and the Global System for Mobile Communications.
- INFORMATION READINESS––compile and disseminate products and tools such as country profiles, case studies, and interactive maps.
PACIFIC HARBOUR, December 2018
Pacific Island countries such as Fiji and Samoa are disproportionally affected by natural disasters and El Niño/La Niña cycles. As the climate changes, the increased frequency of tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts and sea level rise have an impact on 22 of these island countries and territories, home to more than seven million people, diverse cultures and languages, reefs and atolls, flora and fauna. In 2016, Cyclone Winston caused widespread destruction across Fiji, the strongest storm in recorded history in the Southern Hemisphere.
To address these issues, the third annual Pacific Regional Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) workshop was hosted by WFP in partnership with the Fijian Government, with over 40 stakeholders from countries across the South and North Pacific, including National Disaster Management Offices, government ministries, regulators, NGOs, the Red Cross, the private sector, academics and UN agencies.
This year’s meeting focused on what technology to fall back on during a disaster, how to keep the affected population informed about what’s happening, and new developments for early warning systems. As a result, better coordination between national, provincial and community groups is in place to save lives and protect livelihoods.