Snapshots from the Field: Partnerships on the ground
Emergency telecommunications preparedness is a shared responsibility,” says Peni Kuboutawa, telecoms officer with Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).
This is certainly true for the ETC response in the wake of Cyclone Harold, which tore through Fiji on 8 April, causing extreme flooding and severing communication links across the islands of Southern Lau and Kadavu.
As the subsequent hours filled with emergency planning, Fiji’s NDMO was quick to ensure Hlekiwe Kachali – ETC Coordinator in the Pacific – was at the table. This alliance is credited to the long history of partnership working between the government of Fiji and the ETC, since the Cluster was activated in the Pacific over four years ago.
In the aftermath of the cyclone, satellite communication support was needed to conduct post-disaster assessments in the worst-hit areas. Responders at Fiji’s NDMO knew exactly who to call. “We worked hand in hand with the ETC, its satellite partner Inmarsat and other government ministries to implement our emergency telecommunications preparedness plan,” says Peni.
Consequently, the assessment teams had access to connectivity – even in remote Southern Lau and Kadavu. In real time, assessment data could be transmitted to the NDMO, impacting the entire response plan.