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ITU as an International Forum for Emergency Telecommunications

Disasters are causing increasing loss of life, homes and livelihoods around the world. No country is immune. They can wipe out whole communities, disrupt economies, destroy the environment, weaken the most vulnerable communities and reverse progress towards development and poverty reduction, especially in developing countries and small island states. When disasters strike, they leave a legacy of broken lives and destruction, especially for those living in remote and isolated areas.

Natural nor man-made hazards cannot be entirely prevented, but ICTs can help reduce their impact and limit damage. Telecommunications are critical at all stages - in prevention, preparation, response and relief efforts. Early warning systems and remote sensory systems have proven effective in disaster management, enabling the disaster management community to evaluate vulnerabilities, to be better prepared and to assess the initial extent of damage and destruction. Remote sensing data is also useful in locating response facilities/supplies and planning reconstruction efforts. Telecommunicationsare critical in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, ensuring timely communications and the flow of information needed by governments and relief agencies to organize rescue operations and provide medical assistance. Reconstruction of disrupted telecommunication networks is also vital.

The area of emergency telecommunications is a top priority for ITU, which is working on international efforts to integrate ICTs into disaster forecasting, prevention, detection, monitoring and relief efforts on the ground. ITU-D is working to forge partnerships with development partners, including local communities, central government, the private sector, civil society and other international organizations, to ensure vital access to ICTs, especially by remote rural communities. Its work programme is designed to deal with a full range of disasters and promotes the use of a variety of communications for greatest flexibility in disaster response to broaden access to ICTs. Relief workers must be able to be reached and able to communicate. ITU-D has developed an ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE) for the deployment of on-demand ICT applications and services, anywhere, anytime, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.



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Updated : 2008-04-07