Telecoms aid organisation TSF sets up earthquake comms centre
The telecoms industry’s global aid organisation Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF) has installed a broadband satellite connection in Haiti, in the area hit by the 14 August earthquake.
The unit is in Les Cayes, the main city in one of the areas most affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
Florent Bervas, head of mission for TSF in Haiti, said: “We joined the first convoys heading to the south-west of the country and provided satellite connectivity at the operations coordination centre which was being set up here in Les Cayes.”
TSF despatched its team to Haiti within hours of the earthquake, so was able to set up the first humanitarian coordination centre to provide communications to aid organisations on the ground.
Access to the areas close to the epicentre has been particularly difficult for humanitarian organisations due to low security and to the heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Grace. This huge depression hit the same region two days after the earthquake and significantly damaged the transport infrastructure.
Bervas said: “This connection makes information sharing more reliable between the local team of the National Civil Protection Agency (DGPC) and the national level in Port-au-Prince. It also speeds up the establishment of the coordination centre with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.”
The coordination centre in Les Cayes is set to become the main coordination hub for the humanitarian response in the affected areas and will serve all the relief organisations arriving on the ground.
In parallel, members of TSF’s team also provide telecoms support to the UNDAC assessment operations conducted in the surroundings of Jérémie and Les Cayes, for example in the affected localities of Aquin and Caveau Jean-Baptiste.
This work enabled UNDAC to provide accurate information about the damage and the priority needs to Haiti’s government agencies and the organisations involved in the response to the disaster.
Over 2,200 casualties have been confirmed, with more than 300 still missing and over 12,000 injured.
TSF is working in close collaboration with the United Nations, the Civil Protection, the National Centre for Emergency Operations (COUN), Help.ngo and all the other organisations present on the ground to ensure reliable telecom connectivity is available in the highest priority areas affected by the earthquake.