|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
“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.