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 Thursday, March 17, 2011

When it comes to disaster management, there are quite a few aid organizations around the world who arrive quickly to the spot to help with whatever help required starting from food, to medicines and even ICT.

But Japan’s worst earthquake in decades that is leading to a nuclear crisis as well has raised a peculiar problem. How do international agencies reach with aid, particularly technology aid, when a disaster has the potential to endanger the lives of the helpers who are not locals?

In Japan for instance, Télécoms San Frontières
(TSF) -- or Telecom Without Borders -- the France-based NGO that specializes in setting up emergency telecommunications in disaster hit areas around the world, was one of the first international aid agencies to reach Japan for setting up an emergency telecommunication network in the affected areas.

But when Japan’s beleaguered nuclear power plants started spewing out nuclear radiation, TSF had to hastily retreat. According to TSF, concerned by the threat its staff faced due to the radiation hazard, TSF was forced to pull out yesterday; with bag, equipments and baggage, so to speak.

One organization that was able to tackle this eventuality smartly was UN’s
International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  ITU too dispatched its emergency telecommunications equipment to areas severely affected by the tsunami within 24 hours of Friday’s devastating earthquake.

But instead of sending its own people, it sent its equipment with detailed and lucidly composed instruction manuals so that the
local agencies operating on spot could deploy them easily.

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