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The 29 partners of the World Food Programme (WFP)-led Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) are on hand within 48 hours to work with local partners and reconnect communities, responding to up to 10 emergencies per year. 

In the minutes, days and weeks after a cyclone, earthquake or tsunami, or during armed conflict, actors at all levels require communications connectivity: from the individuals and families affected, to governments who lead and coordinate national relief efforts and the humanitarian organizations who contribute to local response. 

From Afghanistan and Iraq, to Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal, for over 15 years the ETC has provided timely, predictable and effective telecommunications services to humanitarians responding to crises.

The ETC is also working with governments and communities in disaster-risk countries to improve communications preparedness and resilience measures ahead of emergencies.

From restoring mobile networks and internet connectivity to setting up security systems or getting local radio stations back on the air, the cluster uses communications technology to keep humanitarians safe and serving affected populations.

For a full list and explanation of what the ETC does, visit etcluster.org/services-activities 

Examples of ETC services and activities

Voice connectivity (telephony)

The ETC offers voice communication options for all three of its main users: humanitarian organisations, national and local authorities, and the affected population.

Internet connectivity

The ETC provides the technology and infrastructure that is lacking in emergency situations to improve the accessibility, affordability and usability of information and communication tools in both sudden-onset and protracted crises.

Local broadcaster support

Helping local radio stations get back on the air after a disaster is one of the most effective ways to reach communities in crisis.

Two-way communication between humanitarians and affected communities

Allows people in crisis to express their needs and concerns to humanitarians in a timely manner.

Security communications systems

Essential to humanitarian operations, not only as a security mitigation measure, but as a backup system to use after sudden onset emergencies.

Training, simulations, and e-learning

Rigorous training opportunities targeting different skill sets meet the capacity building needs of humanitarians so they can keep pace with evolving technologies. Simulation exercises reinforce emergency technology skills by putting participants in real-world-like situations.

Localized and global preparedness activities

When preparedness measures are in place, first responders save more than a week of time in an operation; the ETC works with national and local government agencies, civil society groups, humanitarian organizations, the private sector, and local communities on emergency telecommunications readiness.