WEST AFRICA – TRAINING OF EMERGENCY ACTORS IN INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN CRISIS SITUATIONS

Pau, May 16th 2013

In the region of the Sahel and in West Africa, prolonged drought combined with conflicts causes recurrent crises, affecting millions of people. The limited or totally lacking access to means of communication slows the delivery of humanitarian aid to these vulnerable populations. In light of this complex humanitarian situation, there is a crucial need for increased capacity coordination of humanitarian actors and improved diffusion of information in the field.

Effective telecom solutions can therefore reduce the impact of the crisis on people’s lives.

Thus, TSF teams have been working in Mali since February 2013, have offered free calls to the victims of the conflict and then installed a satellite connection for the benefit of local authorities.

Now and for the first time on the African continent, TSF, with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), is giving ICT training to the West African humanitarian organizations involved in emergency response. This training session will begin in Dakar, Senegal, May 20th, 2013.

This 3rd session is part of the overall program run by TSF throughout the year 2013. The first two training courses were held in Bangkok, Thailand, in March and in Managua, Nicaragua in May. The objective is to strengthen the capacity of humanitarian organizations in West Africa involved in emergency response.

The Dakar workshop will host 25 participants from 17 international organizations working in the field of emergency response in five countries of West Africa: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad and Senegal.

The training program includes practical and theoretical modules of telecommunications management in emergencies and the use of different ICT equipment as well as a practical simulation exercise of a deployment of communications during a crisis.

During this training session, the main challenge is to strengthen humanitarian skills to optimize overall response, thus enabling the vital needs of the population to be met.

About Télécoms Sans Frontières

Télécoms Sans Frontières: the leading humanitarian NGO specialised in emergency telecommunications

Thanks to its 24-hour monitoring centre and particularly its operational bases in Europe, Central America, Asia, and its representation in Washington, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) crews of IT and telecoms specialists can intervene anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. After a sudden onset disaster or conflict, they can set up in a matter of minutes a satellite-based telecoms centre offering broadband Internet, phone and fax lines. These centres enable emergency NGOs, the United Nations and local authorities to communicate right at the heart of a crisis. They also facilitate the coordination of aid efforts. In parallel, TSF runs humanitarian calling operations to offer support and assistance to affected civilians, giving them a link with the outside world from which they would be otherwise completely cut off.

Beyond emergency response, TSF is also engaged in ongoing prevention and development programs, including technology centres for local populations, and support to projects in collaboration with stakeholders from multiple sectors (health, agriculture, education…). TSF also organizes general training sessions in emergency telecommunications for other relief organizations and national disaster response agencies in order to reinforce the efficiency of humanitarian action worldwide. Emergency kits are provided to regional offices, comprising satellite communications and IT equipment and including power supplies, so that when commercial infrastructure is cut off, offices can stay connected, report and coordinate with the central agency. These long-term education and training projects lead to positive impacts in economic development as well as capability building of humanitarian organizations.

TSF is partner of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO). In 2006, TSF was designated “First Emergency Telecoms Responder” within the United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) and became a partner of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Télécoms Sans Frontières is also a working group member of the United Nations emergency telecoms body (WGET) and a member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).

Since its creation in 1998, TSF deployed to more than 60 countries on 5 continents and assisted more than 700 relief organizations and hundreds of thousands of victims.

For more information, consult: www.tsfi.org

About the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO)

The European Union (Commission + Member States) is the world’s largest provider of funds for humanitarian aid operations. Since 1992, the Commission has provided billions of euros for humanitarian projects in more than 140 countries, funding relief to millions of victims of disasters outside the European Union.

Operations include assessment of humanitarian needs in disaster areas, appropriate allocation of funds for goods and services such as food, shelter, medical provisions, water supplies or sanitation and evaluation of the impact of the aid provided. Disaster preparedness projects in regions prone to natural catastrophes are also among the life-saving activities financed through its specialised programme DIPECHO. By preparing the communities at risk to respond by themselves, DIPECHO aims at reducing the impact of natural disasters on the most vulnerable populations through simple and inexpensive yet effective preparatory measures developed and implemented at community level. Examples include the development of simple local early-warning systems, awareness-raising and training sessions, or small-scale mitigation works. The Commission is also committed to integrating disaster risk reduction components into its humanitarian relief operations.

Assistance is channelled impartially to the populations concerned, regardless of their race, ethnic group, religion, gender, age, nationality or political affiliation, through our operational partners. The Commission works with about 200 partners, including European non-governmental organisations, the Red Cross movement and United Nations agencies.

For more information about the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission, consult: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm