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Emergency Telecommunication Fund

ITU is the United Nations lead agency for telecommunications. We are working with partners from around the world to ensure that emergency workers can communicate with one another when disaster strikes.

To support this effort, we have set up an Emergency Telecommunications Fund.

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In recent years, disasters have been on the increase with devastating effects. For example, Myanmar and China affected by a cyclone and an earthquake respectively, lost over 70’000 people each and a total of infrastructure worth over 40 billion dollars was lost. Telecommunication infrastructure was both disrupted and destroyed thus hampering the coordination of rescue operations and delivery of assistance to the victims. ITU had to intervene immediately through the deployment of satellite broadband equipment that proved invaluable.

When disaster strikes ITU is on the front line of supporting local and international aid workers through the deployment of emergency telecommunication equipment and personnel. ITU equipment is often used for both basic communications and for telemedicine purposes (essentially to link temporary disaster onsite clinics to specialized hospitals in urban areas. ITU is often at the site of a disaster within the first 24-48 hours. We are not subjected to regulatory barriers that are often a hindrance to other humanitarian organizations since the telecommunication regulatory authorities are our members. The following are some of our most recent deployments.

ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE)

During the Global Forum on Effective use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management: Saving Lives, held in Geneva (10-12 December 2007), a number of new partnerships were launched with governments, industry, international organizations and specialized NGOs within the framework of a new ITU initiative that seeks to make telecommunication resources available to countries and humanitarian actors within the first 24 hours of a disaster striking.

The IFCE initiative has three clusters: technology, finance and logistics. The aim is to continuously mobilize resources in terms of equipment and finance to be used in emergencies.

Within the Finance Cluster, an Emergency Telecommunications Fund was created to finance future deployments. Our goal is to raise $10 million USD for a rolling fund to ensure that ITU has the resources to respond quickly when disaster strikes. Several million dollars have been raised to date, but these funds have been largely exhausted in previous response efforts outlined above.

ITU is urgently calling for new contributions to replenish the fund to enhance response capability when new disasters strike.

China Earthquake, May 2008

Myanmar Cyclone, May 2008

Zambia Floods, February 2008

Uganda Floods, October 2007

Bangladesh Floods, Sept. 2007

Peru Earthquake, August 2007


Iridium Satellite, LLC


Inmarsat Limited

ICO Global Communications

Terrestar Global


Rohde & Schwarz


[Learn more about these partnerships.]

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