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At times of emergencies, communications services can save lives. They support the delivery of aid and ensure that affected people can access information, receive assistance, contact loved ones and make informed decisions.

From Afghanistan and Iraq, to Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal, for over a decade the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) – led globally by the World Food Programme (WFP) – has provided timely, predictable and effective telecommunications services to humanitarians responding to crises.

The ETC is a global network of humanitarian, government and private sector organizations working together to provide shared communications services even in the most challenging emergency situations.

As well as providing telecommunications services during crises, the ETC is working with governments and communities in disaster-prone countries to improve communication resilience and the local and national capacity to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies.

Disaster-affected people are the first responders in emergencies, and the ETC supports them in taking a leading role in response efforts.

Communications services typically provided by the ETC in emergencies include security communications through VHF radio, internet connectivity through quick-deploy satellite terminals and Wi-fi hotspots, and technical help desks for users. The ETC also works to meet the increasing connectivity and electricity demands of humanitarian emergency response.

As global lead of the ETC, WFP engages its internal IT emergency response capacity – the Fast Information Technology and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team – to support coordination of field operations and delivery of ETC services.