RedR Australia in Haiti

ICT officers, Ivan Storr and Hugh Macready were deployed from Australia to Haiti to respond to the earthquake emergency. Members of RedR Australia, Ivan and Hugh joined the World Food Programme (WFP) team to restore electrical services and communications.

“Personally, it's been a great experience,” said Ivan. “The biggest challenge is balancing the immediate needs with longer term sustainability.”

Ivan’s current concern is the possibility of power outages to the site's operations and telecommunications. Two 88kVa generators powering 40 prefabricated offices are running at the maximum of their capacity and are at risk of overheating. At the top of Ivan’s priority list is to get a pair of 165 kVa generators operational and mounted on an engineered plinth. This solution will provide some electrical capacity headroom for the growing operation and reduce runs necessary to find sources to fill diesel drums to fuel the generators.

“Having been a project manager for several years in highly controlled, risk averse environments, it's good to have a practical, hands on role. Here in Haiti, anything that works now is better than nothing and tangible benefits are immediate.”

Hugh Macready has been focused on building a data network for hundreds of humanitarian staff around the country. As the emergency phase begins to wind down, he is now focusing on improving the reliability of the network using industry standard design principles.

For Hugh, the reliability of the local internet service providers has been a problem. His challenge involves balancing network loads between satellite links and terrestrial connections which run over the central mountain ranges into the Dominican Republic.

“Both the satellite links and terrestrial connection have their inherent problems, and getting the mix right is a delicate balancing act,” said Hugh. Internet connectivity is crucial for information sharing, and also provides humanitarian workers with a link back home.

“This has been a revealing challenge. I feel that this has increased my confidence in emergency work and the experience will serve me well in work back at home as well as any future emergencies.” 

By Belinda Johnston, Communications Coordinator, RedR Australia