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The role of telecommunications in disaster reduction is critical in order to improve the timely flow of crucial information needed for appropriate assistance to be delivered before, during and after the disaster. For this reason, ITU is vigorously forging partnerships with the private sector to finance activities related to disaster mitigation with the aim of saving lives.

Emergency Telecommunication : Saving Lives

Emergency telecommunications play a critical role in the immediate aftermath of disasters by ensuring timely flow of vital information that is much needed by government agencies and other humanitarian actors involved in rescue operations and providing medical assistance to the injured.
ITU and its partners deploy satellite terminals and other emergency telecommunication equipment to affected countries within the first 24 to 48 hours in the aftermath of a disaster to help restore vital communication links.

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Japan bolsters ITU's emergency communications capacity

Financial contribution to aid countries affected by natural disasters

In a statement, the Government of Japan said: "We would like to contribute CHF 158,000 to the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE). Since we greatly benefitted from the IFCE after the Great East Japan Earthquake, we truly understand the importance of IFCE. We hope our contribution will be utilized for Member States that are affected by disasters and need communication measures."

ITU deployed broadband satellite terminals to Japan in the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the north eastern coast of Japan in March 2011.

"The people of Japan deserve great praise for the way they dealt with the crisis that enveloped their lives following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and my heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the bereaved and to those who lost their property and their livelihoods," said ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré. "I am grateful that the Government of Japan, which is still recovering from such a massive disaster, is contributing generously to our humanitarian activities."

Marking the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan hosted a Symposium on the use of telecommunications/ICT before and during emergencies. “I was touched by Japan's generosity when they sponsored the participation of many developing countries to an information- sharing Symposium,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “I call upon other partners to emulate Japan’s initiative to support ITU’s emergency communications and to help save lives of millions of people across the globe.”

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ITU and Luxembourg to cooperate in telecommunications for disaster response

Emergency satellite communications platform bolsters global humanitarian intervention

ITU and the Government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg have agreed to cooperate on strengthening emergency telecommunications and rapid response in the event of natural disasters. ITU and Luxembourg are members of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), comprising of UN agencies and other humanitarian partners.

The Government of Luxembourg has developed a nomadic satellite-based telecommunication system – ‘’ – aimed at assisting humanitarian agencies respond to communities affected by natural disasters, conflicts or protracted crises. This platform will be available as a global public good to the international humanitarian community as of 1 January 2012, with Luxembourg funding its development, implementation, operation and maintenance to the tune of € 17.2 million.

Under the umbrella of the “ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies” (IFCE), ITU will encourage its 193 Member States to use the ‘’ platform and facilitate the rapid deployment of emergency telecommunication systems in the event of a sudden-onset disaster, or a longer-term deployment in chronic or recurrent humanitarian contexts or as part of a preparedness strategy in developing countries. ITU will negotiate appropriate regulatory and legal frameworks with Administrations, particularly Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities, to assist in the deployment. IFCE is an ITU communications initiative to assist the humanitarian community in disaster response. IFCE and will be jointly and individually deployed within two hours of notification using every possible means, including custom-fitted aircraft, depending on the nature and magnitude of the disaster.

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Collabria contributes to ITU’s ongoing emergency telecommunication efforts in Haiti

Collabria has signed an agreement with ITU to collaborate beginning with the Haiti disaster through the contribution of the Collabria software, and a contingency of engineers to work with the ITU team on the ground.

SmartBridges enhances ITU's emergency work

Has contributed to support ITU’s response efforts in the Hiti emergency by deploying wifi units to enhace the telecommunication networks after the disaster.

Kyrgyz Telecom helps ITU on the Haiti emergency

Through the donation of economic funds, KyrgyzTelecom has contributed to enhance the ITU’s immense response efforts after the disaster that hit Haiti.

FedEx supports ITU response Efforts in Haiti

In response to the Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010, FeDex provided airfreight support to ITU emergency telecommunications. In previous disasters such as the Sichuan earthquake in China, FeDex also provided free airfreight services to ITU. ITU wishes to express profound appreciation for this assistance and looks forward to continued close cooperation with FedEx in the future.
ITU, Inmarsat and Vizada sign a deal to boost disaster preparedness and recovery efforts
Geneva, 8 October 2009

ITU, Inmarsat and Vizada SAS have reached an agreement to improve emergency communications for disaster preparedness and to coordinate relief activities in the aftermath of a disaster.

Inmarsat and Vizada are donating 70 state-of-the-art, highly-portable satellite devices capable of delivering voice and broadband data, to the ITU. The equipment will enhance ITU’s capacity in deploying mobile telecommunications to assist countries in preparing for disaster and in strengthening response and recovery mechanisms.

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Click here to view photos of the signing ceremony


ITU and Qualcomm enhance mobile telecommunication capacity for emergencies

Geneva, 9 July 2009

ITU and Qualcomm Incorporated have reached an agreement to improve emergency communications for disaster preparedness and to coordinate relief activities in the aftermath of a disaster.

Qualcomm is donating to ITU a Qualcomm Deployable Base Station (QDBS) with a total estimated value of nearly USD 500,000. The base station will enhance ITU’s capacity in deploying mobile telecommunications to assist countries in preparing for disaster and in strengthening response and recovery mechanisms.

Based on 3G CDMA technology, QDBS is a compact, quickly deployable and easy to operate mobile solution for providing first-responder communications. This reliable, responsive and complete cellular system can be forward-deployed to supply vital wireless communications.

"We are delighted by this alliance with one of our development Sector Members," said Mr Sami Al Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. "QDBS brings with it the wireless technology that is so essential in bridging the telecommunication gap when terrestrial networks are knocked out by natural disasters."

Qualcomm provides wireless solutions that are relevant and critical in responding to disasters. Through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, Qualcomm works with organizations such as ITU to bring wireless technology to those who need it most.

"We are proud to work with ITU and provide a useful system to enhance their emergency communications programme," said Shawn A. Covell, Senior Director of International Government Affairs for Qualcomm. "Wireless Reach is fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with ITU in order to help make a difference when a disaster strikes."



Saudi Telecom Company boosts ITU's Emergency Telecommunications Fund

The Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has made a contribution of fifty thousand (50,000) Swiss Francs to the ITU Emergency Telecommunication Fund. In making this contribution, STC president Mr. Saud Majeed Al Daweesh stated that, " Saudi Telecom Company (STC) very much values its relationship with International Telecommunications Union (ITU). We are quite moved by the humanitarian services provided by the Emergency Fund of ITU. STC would like to be part of such a noble cause and it gives me great pleasure to make a contribution of Fifty thousand (50,000) Swiss francs into the Emergency Fund."

In a letter thanking the President of STC, the ITU Secretary General Dr. Hamadoun I. Toure stated that " The 50,000 Swiss francs which you have contributed will go a long way in supporting the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE), an initiative that I also  recently launched with the aim of making Information and Communication Technologies play a vital role in mitigating the impact of disasters particularly during the response phase of disaster management. The generous contribution by Saudi Telecom Company will touch humanity across the globe as no region or country is immune to the scrouge of disasters"


ITU entered into multiple partnerships during Global Forum on Disaster Management

During the Global Forum on Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICTs for Disaster Management: Saving Lives, a number of bilateral partnership agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed between ITU and the following partners:

ITU - Iridium Satellite, LLC

Iridium is a major provider of global satellite voice and data solutions with complete coverage of the earth with a constellation of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites and delivers essential communications services to and from remote areas where no other form of communication is available. Iridium contributed 66 IRIDIUM 9505A hand-held satellite phones and 20 IRIDIUM solar batteries (collectively, the Iridium Hand-Sets), with a total value of US$101’400, and reduction of airtime usage of the phones by 20 per cent of the normal market rate on the basis that the Iridium Hand-Sets are being used for humanitarian work. This contribution brings resources to both the Technology Cluster of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE) and the Finance Cluster (through the contribution in airtime). ITU’s capability to respond to emergencies through the deployment of telecommunications resources within the first 24 to 48 hours has been tremendously reinforced.


ITU - ICO Global Communications

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 10th December 2007, in Geneva. ICO Global Communications Limited is a next generation satellite operator combining both satellite and terrestrial communications capabilities, in order to offer wireless voice, data, video and Internet services on mobile and portable devices.

Within the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE), the MoU is aimed at establishing non-exclusive collaborative linkages between the Parties in the area of emergency telecommunication systems and disaster relief and mitigation.

ICO and ITU will implement joint projects/activities, subject to technical limitations, and the provision of airtime on ICO’s F2 satellite to the ITU by ICO or to state and non-state actors through ITU before, during and after disasters strike.

ICO contributed US$25’000 directly into the Finance Cluster of the IFCE, and free airtime for disaster preparedness and response.


ITU - Terrestar Global

 The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and TerreStar Global, an emerging mobile network operator that is building and will own Europe’s first 4G integrated mobile satellite and terrestrial communication network signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Disaster Preparedness and Response through Emergency Telecommunications and Geographic Information Systems. The Parties entered into this MoU on 10 December 2007, in Geneva.

Taking into account that satellite communication is less vulnerable to disasters and more reliable for humanitarian work and that in the event of disasters, TerreStar is ready to commit the full resources of its network to help maintain vital communications; this agreement  paves way for future opportunities for both Parties. This MoU provides a foundation on which the implementation of joint projects, coordination of disaster relief activities, and coordination of joint events to promote disaster preparedness by countries can be undertaken.

TerreStar contributed an initial sum of US$20’000 in support of the Finance Cluster of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE).



The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and VIZADA, a recognized operating agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation Agreement for the promotion of emergency telecommunications in Geneva on 10 December 2007.

The conclusion of this MoU builds on a strong partnership that already exists between ITU and VIZADA that has facilitated the deployment of satellite based solutions across the globe in the immediate aftermath of disasters striking. On this occasion, VIZADA made an in-kind contribution of 7 complete BGAN terminals and 10 iridium9505A handsets. The contribution boosted the Technology Cluster of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE)



The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU in Geneva on 10 December 2007). UNOSAT has already been involved in a number of joint activities with ITU particularly in providing satellite imagery for humanitarian work.

Within the scope of the ITU’s Technological Cluster of the Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE), this MoU has the objective of establishing collaborative linkages in the areas of Emergency Telecommunications Systems and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The Parties will implement joint projects/activities based on project documents to be entered into from time to time.



  The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Group on Earth Observation (GEO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the objective of coordinating Earth Observations and establishing a global, comprehensive and sustained System of Earth Observing Systems (GEOSS). The MoU was signed in Geneva on 10 December 2007 within the scope of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE). Under this MoU, Parties will implement joint projects/activities based on project documents entered into from time to time. GEO will also support ITU-D in enhancing the use of ICT for disaster management in developing countries, with particular attention given to the provision of affordable ICT services to include geospatial information systems and Earth observations data, and participation in ITU events on emergency telecommunications. GEO will also coordinate GEO Members and Participating Organizations in response to requests from ITU for the provision of Earth Observations products and services pertaining to disaster situations. ITU will share information with GEO on emergency telecommunications/ICT and Earth observations in response to needs of both state and non-state actors involved in humanitarian work before, during and in the aftermath of disasters. ITU will also participate in GEO organized activities on Earth Observation and other related activities to highlight the role of telecommunications/ICT in all GEO Societal Benefit Areas, with a special emphasis on disaster management.


ITU - Telemedicine & e-Health Training Centre, Holy Family Hospital

 On 10th December 2007, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Telemedicine & e-Health Training Center, Holy Family Hospital of Rawalpindi in Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Cooperation in Disaster Preparedness and Response through Telemedicine and e-Health.

The Parties have already successfully collaborated in the area of telemedicine and emergency telecommunications following the massive earthquake that struck the Pakistan-India border area in October 2005 during which a total of 25 medical doctors were trained in the use of 55 satellite terminals in delivering telemedicine services and applications. The Parties intend to implement joint projects/activities, share information on e-Health, and cooperate on enhancing access to information related to emergency telecommunications and telemedicine for disaster preparedness and disaster relief.


ITU - TANA Telemedicine Systems

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the JSC National Telemedicine Agency, part of the TANA group of Companies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in Disaster Preparedness and Response through Telemedicine and e-Health.

The Parties will implement joint projects in telemedicine/e-Health aimed at saving lives when disasters strike.


ITU - International Aid & Trade

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and International Aid and Trade which brings together the key stakeholders in the humanitarian relief, aid and development sectors to enhance coordination and partnership between aid agencies and other stakeholders, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Geneva on 10th December 2007. The Parties will undertake studies on disaster management and the role of emergency telecommunications. Based on projects that are defined from time to time, the two organizations will co-finance and implement joint projects.



The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), which is an international non-governmental organization whose objective it is to protect, promote and advance Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Geneva on 10 December 2007. The Parties have already cooperated on running training courses for both radio amateurs and telecommunications regulators. This agreement paves way for more training courses across the globe. Through this MoU, the Parties will implement joint projects and activities, share information on emergency telecommunications. IARU’s contribution goes straight into the Technological Cluster of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE).


ITU - WebForce International Federation

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the Webforce International Federation, a non-governmental organization whose objective is to reduce the costs of access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and use of these technologies for disaster mitigation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 10 December 2007 in Geneva.

By concluding this MoU, the Parties seek to establish collaborative linkages that include organizing joint events and activities, sharing information, and resource mobilization in the area of emergency telecommunications and ICT.


ITU, ICO, and CBC Turn to Satellite Communications for Global Response to Disasters ITU, ICO and CBC sign MoU

Geneva, 20 June 2007-The ITU agreed with ICO Global Communications (ICO) and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) to use satellite communications for improved global response in the face of natural disasters.

ICO will provide airtime on its F2 satellite for disaster prevention and effective response in the aftermath of natural disasters through both voice communications and other telecommunication applications, including telemedicine. An hour's airtime will be provided every day for use through ITU to help countries maintain preparedness, provide early-warning information, and elicit quick response. In the event of a disaster, this time will be adjusted according to the demand to facilitate rescue-and-rehabilitation efforts.

 CBC will provide content and manage the entrepreneurial skill development program.


ITU and Télécoms Sans Frontières form partnership

Dr Hamadoun Touré (ITU) shaking hands with Mr.Jean-François Cazenave (TSF) after the signing of the Memorandum of UnderstandingAs part of its ongoing effort to promote international cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships, ITU concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on 11 April 2007 with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), a non-governmental organization, to open the door to greater coordination of efforts in this area.

"Télécoms Sans Frontières is doing excellent work in the field and we look forward to the potential impact of this collaboration," ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré said after the signing the agreement. "TSF has demonstrated how telecommunications can be used to strengthen emergency response efforts and save lives."

This sentiment was echoed by TSF Founding President, Mr Jean-François Cazenave. He said, "Télécoms Sans Frontières is very proud to collaborate with ITU, and we sincerely hope that this will encourage telecommunication operators to recognize the potential of their products and services to save lives. We welcome them to join us in this common cause."


ITU and Thuraya enter partnership for portable satellite terminalsThuraya's satellite

In July 2006, ITU concluded an agreement with Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company (based in the United Arab Emirates), under which Thuraya will contribute handheld satellite terminals and solar chargers to power them. The Thuraya terminals will help provide vital links via satellite to rescue teams, government authorities and humanitarian agencies for relief and rehabilitation efforts. These terminals support voice and data applications, as well as remote navigation services via the global positioning system (GPS). They will also help victims locate their relatives and seek assistance.


Asian Disaster Preparedness Center to improve emergency telecommunication in disaster situations

Beach public address system for early warningITU and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), a non-profit organization seeking to reduce the impact of disasters upon countries and communities in Asia and Pacific Region, signed a MoU for enhancing efficiency of Emergency Telecommunication Services for managing hazard risks. Within ITU’s mandate to assist countries to study, plan and establish emergency telecommunication systems, ITU and ADPC have agreed to collaborate in the following areas:

  • Mainstream disaster risk management practices into the Telecommunication services sector

  • Incorporate disaster resilience into Rehabilitation and reconstruction planning of Telecommunication Infrastructure in
    the aftermath of disasters

  • Enhance disaster preparedness through back up systems and planning tools into emergency telecommunication


Rohde & Schwarz Rises to the Humanitarian ChallengeAftermath of Tsunami Disaster. Photo Credits: ITU/Cosmas Zavazaza

Following its financial contribution to the work and publication of the Handbook on Emergency Telecommunications, Rohde & Schwarz has contributed 50,000 Euros towards ITU's ongoing work on reconstruction, rehabilitation and establishment of early warning systems for the countries affected by the Tsunami. It is partnerships such as these that can make a difference in the lives of those who are vulnerable to disasters, especially those in the least developed and small island developing countries.


Australian Government Boosts ITU's Seed Money for Emergency TelecommunicationsDestruction of a building in Bande Ache, Thailand. Photo Credits: ITU/Cosmas Zavazaza

The Government of Australia has made a voluntary contribution of 500,000 Swiss Francs for the preparation of telecommunication infrastructure rehabilitation plans and general telecommunication plans for an early warning system for the countries affected by the Tsunami. This financial contribution will go a long way towards assisting the affected countries in preparing and dealing with future disasters, and will give a significant boost to ITU's seed money of US$250'000 allocated for the same purpose following the December 2004 earthquake and the subsequent Tsunami generated by it.


Inmarsat LimitedITU and Inmarsat Limited partner to provide Satellite Services for Disaster Relief and Rural Telecommunications in Least Developed Countries

ITU has entered into a partnership with Inmarsat Limited to obtain plug-and-play satellite terminals, which can be deployed at the request of a Member State whose telecommunications have been disrupted by disaster. As part of enhancing disaster preparedness ITU has just published a Handbook on Emergency Telecommunications that was co-financed by Rohde & Schwarz.


Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET)A young Chinese student prepares electronic equipment for amateur radio purposes. Amateur radio operators are important players in disaster communication.

ITU is a member of the Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET), convened by the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which seeks to facilitate the use of telecommunications in the service of humanitarian assistance and to increase the effectiveness of its participants in relation to regulatory, operational and technical aspects of telecommunications for disaster relief. WGET not only encourages measures applying the ITU resolutions and recommendations relative to telecommunications for disaster relief, but also is an active facilitator of the promotion and implementation of the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations.


The World Summit on the Information SocietyHeads of State at WSIS, 9 December 2003

The World Summit on the Information Society, the second global meeting of which was held in Tunis in November 2005, offered an important window of opportunity to promote awareness and partnerships for more effective use of ICTs for disaster reduction. We are committed to make ICTs play a critical role in disaster mitigation. For this to happen, universal access should be assured. Multi-stakeholder partnerships can make a big difference.


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