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Emergency telecommunications
Uganda receives vital equipment following mudslides
Photo credit: AFP

Just as equipment was being sent to Chile, another natural disaster was unfolding on the other side of the world in eastern Uganda. Beginning on 1 March, a series of mudslides on the slopes of Mount Elgon destroyed villages near the town of Bududa. The disaster left hundreds of people dead or missing, and many more homeless. Buildings were buried under metres of earth and rocks. In one case, dozens of children who took shelter in a clinic were killed.

ITU responded by deploying 20 Thuraya satellite terminals to the area, providing essential phone links that were vital to the search and rescue efforts in a remote rural area. The equipment, which was dispatched from ITU’s headquarters in Geneva on 3 March, was also used to coordinate the logistics of relief work.

The terminals sent to Uganda were supplied under a partnership agreement concluded in 2006 between ITU and Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company, which is based in the United Arab Emirates. They are solar-powered handheld devices that support voice and data applications, as well as remote navigation services via the Global Positioning System (GPS).

“Yet again, a natural disaster has swept away lives and livelihoods. In Uganda, and around the globe, ITU will always do its best to help those who need emergency telecommunications, in partnership with our membership,” said Dr Touré.


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