Services for Communities (S4C)

Communication has to work both ways, with humanitarians listening to the population they are trying to help.

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A Syrian woman fleeing war needs Wi-Fi and a place to charge her phone to figure out the safest escape route. A Nepalese man needs to listen to the radio to stay safe during extreme weather. A family displaced by conflict in South Sudan needs to make satellite calls to find each other.

In all these cases, the ability to communicate, and to get updates on changing circumstances are as vital as food, water, shelter, and medical attention. Communication has to work both ways, with humanitarians listening to the population they are trying to help.

Setting it up

To deliver this service, the ETC works with:

  • mobile network providers to advocate for humanitarian connectivity charter commitments
  • governments and the private sector to improve community access to ICT infrastructure in times of disaster
  • major donors and humanitarian decision-makers to highlight the need for funding ICT interventions in disasters

Taking action through S4C means

  1. Distributing E-Vouchers and mobile money transfers

Increasingly, it makes more sense to deliver digitally rather than physically, such as e-Vouchers instead of food supplies and mobile money transfers instead of cash.

  1. Restoring infrastructure

National communications are often disrupted during emergencies, leaving broadcasters unable to disseminate safety information. Mobile networks may be inaccessible and emergency hotlines not established. S4C restores communications channels through partnerships with governments, telecommunications authorities and other stakeholders.

  1. Providing access with Communications with Communities (CwC)

CwC gives disaster affected communities access to information and opportunities for ongoing dialogue amongst themselves, as well as two-way dialogue with the response community––letting them know what needs are most urgent. This means affected populations can make more informed decisions about their own lives as well as positively influencing the aid they receive.

Case Study
Bangladesh Refugee Crisis, November 2018

Cox’s Bazar is a coastal strip of land in between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Once known as a tourist attraction, it has become the largest refugee camp in the world, hosting approximately 909,000 people by February 2019, according to UNHCR. Most are Rohingya, a Muslim minority group fleeing Myanmar, and 73% are illiterate in any language.

Vital information about basic services like food, health and WASH activities is now reaching 90% of the settlements in the camp through Radio Naf, a community radio station set up by S4C partners. In addition to programming about health and other essential services, there are news programs, special programming for children, and time set aside for questions from the community. 

Radio Naf is just one of the services offered, along with multimedia projectors, sound systems, petrol and solar power, as well as 3G mobile Internet connectivity covering 29 information hubs across the area.

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