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Emergency Telecommunications  

  Floods in United States of America. Source: American Red Cross.
Photo credit: American Red Cross.
Relief workers communicate through satellite-based mobile handsets anywhere in the world. Soure: Globalstar.
Relief workers communicate through
satellite-based mobile handsets
anywhere in the world.
Photo Credit: GlobalStar
Earthquake in Mexico. Source: Actualités Suisse.
Earthquake in Mexico
Photo credit: Actualités Suisse

ITU and Inmarsat Ltd partner
to provide Satellite Services for
Disaster Relief and Rural
Telecommunications in
Least Developed Countries.
Photo credit: ITU/Melissa Arditto
Disasters disrupt national economies, severely weaken the poor and vulnerable and are recognized as major impediments to sustainable development and reduction of poverty especially in least developed countries and small island developing states. When disasters strike they leave a legacy of lost or broken lives and economic damage. The impact is even worse for those living in remote and isolated areas with no access to basic information and communication facilities that are essential to providing vital alerting information.

The development arm of the ITU considers emergency telecommunications an integral part of its projects integrating telecommunications/information and communication technology in disaster predication, detection, and alerting. Emergency Telecommunications play a critical role in the immediate aftermath of disasters by ensuring timely flow of vital information which is much needed by government agencies, and other humanitarian actors that are involved in rescue operations and providing medical assistance to the injured.

Our work can be summed up in four principles: multi-hazard, multi-technology, multi-phased, and multi-stakeholder.


Whether natural or man-made, disasters come in different forms (cyclones, floods, droughts, tsunamis, fire, earthquakes). Telecommunications provide the necessary medium and link to mitigate disasters irrespective of their nature.


In mitigating disastrous effects of hazards, we promote the use of any form and means of communication that can contribute to universal access or access by the majority of the people. Those with access to broadcasting radio receivers, Internet, mobile phones, etc. should be able to be reached wherever they are.


Preventive and proactive strategies have a great potential to reduce vulnerability of communities. In our work, we find telecommunications critical at all stages (prevention, preparedness, response and relief of disaster management.) Reconstruction of disrupted telecommunication networks is also an important element in ensuring sustainable development.


It is only through forging partnerships with our development partners that we may ensure access to ICTs by especially those in remote rural communities. The local community, the central government, the private sector, civil society, and international organizations can rally to contribute to the development of ICTs that can result in a truly information society.



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Updated : 2007-09-03