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AI for Good Global Summit

ITU Disaster Response


​When disasters strike, and upon request by Member States, ITU deploys satellite telephones and terminals as well as other emergency telecommunications equipment to affected countries within the first 24 to 48 hours. This equipment helps restore vital communication links and is critical for coordination of disaster response activities within the government and humanitarian agencies involved in rescue and relief operations. 



On 07 August 2023, ITU deployed satellite telecommunications equipment to support Papua New Guinea in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption of Mount Bagana in Bougainville. This equipment will be used to coordinate evacuation activities of all at risk communities that live near the Volcano, to evacuation/care centres located in Central and South Bougainville. The evacuation has been undertaken in coordination with the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The satellite equipment deployed is composed of 10 Iridium satellite phones and 5 Inmarsat BGAN terminals. ​


In March 2023, following the request from Malawi and Mozambique, the emergency telecommunications team deployed 25 Thuraya satellite phones​ to Malawi and 10 Iridium satellite phones to Mozambique in support of the disaster response of cyclone Freddy. Cyclone Freddy has broken the record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record. The heavy rainfall brought floods and mudslides, resulting in loss of lives and damage to property and infrastructure. More than 200 people died and more than 1 million people affected. 


ITU, through its Emergency Telecommunications Roster, has deployed Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals and satellite phones to Nicaragua to restore communications connectivity after the country was hit by hurricane Julia in October 2022. During the deployment, ITU trained local teams on using the equipment, brought the units to affected areas, and presented ITU's work on emergency telecommunications such as the development of National Emergency Telecommunication Plans, and early warning systems like cell broadcasting. 


Read the ITU News Article ITU Emergency Telecom Roster helps restore connectivity after hurricane hits Nicaragua.​ 



Read the ITU news article on Restoring connectivity in Tonga through collaborative disaster response.
​​​On 15 January 2022, a large eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai underwater volcano caused a tsunami and ash fall in Tonga, with over 80% of the population affected. Among the​ eruption's devastating effects, the main undersea cable linking the island nation to the rest of the world broke in at least two places, largely disconnecting the small island developing state from the rest of the world. ITU has supported Tonga, including through direct response activities, in a number of ways and together with its partners, ITU devised a multi-pronged strategy. This included:
  • Repurposing existing equipment in Tonga from an earlier ITU project to enhance emergency telecommunication capacity in the Pacific.
  • Coordinating with satellite operators to provide bandwidth for disaster response.
  • Providing satellite phones to Tonga's Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC).
  • Collaborating with the UN-facilitated Emergency Telecommunications Cluster to provide regular updates to the Disaster Connectivity Map, an online mapping tool that monitors and identifies connectivity gaps and outages after disasters strike​​.​

ITU provided support to the Government of Haiti after the devastation caused by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the county on 14 August 2021, by providing 20 satellite phones and 10 Broadband Global Area Network (BGANs) terminals.​ This equipment was used by national humanitarian first responders to help communities that were severely impacted with recovery and reconstruction efforts.  During this emergency, ITU and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) also used the Disaster Connectivity Map (DCM) to assist in planning for the response efforts and determine connectivity gaps in the impacted areas. DCM is a mapping platform to help first responders determine the status of telecommunications network infrastructure, coverage, and performance before and after a disaster. Since the earthquake, the DCM mapped over 12,000 connectivity data measurements and compared them to baseline measurements to find gaps that can be filled with emergency telecommunications, saving lives and connecting the people affected by this deadly event.​

More Deployments

Find out more about how ITU assisted the affected countries in the aftermath of a disaster and helped in restoring vital communication links in the previous years.