UN agency upgrades communications to kick-start aid response to disasters

UN agency upgrades communications to kick-start aid response to disasters

In a fast moving world that is increasingly struck by disasters, where speedy communications can make the difference between life and death, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has teamed up with The Vodafone Group Foundation (VGF) to enhance the humanitarian response to global emergencies.

In a fast moving world that is increasingly struck by disasters, where speedy communications can make the difference between life and death, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has teamed up with The Vodafone Group Foundation (VGF) to enhance the humanitarian response to global emergencies.

“When an emergency hits, technological support is critical in kick-starting the disaster response initiative because being able to communicate not only enables us to plan, prepare and provide humanitarian relief as quickly as possible, but mostly saves lives,” WFP Director of Information and Communications Technologies Ernesto Baca said.

Under the partnership a joint donation of $832,000 from VGF and the UN Foundation is being used to train information and communications technology (ICT) team leaders and technicians, develop new WFP technology and best practices, and update the agency’s deployment technologies and technical standards.

This funding will support UN emergency response teams around the world and significantly affect the way the entire humanitarian community copes with disasters.

“Communications technologies have become critical to every phase of emergency response for the UN and we’re pleased to partner with the World Food Programme as it continues to use these technologies to save lives around the world,” UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth said.

“We’re proud that our partnership with The Vodafone Group Foundation can foster public-private partnerships that pair valuable corporate resources, knowledge, and experience with the lifesaving work of the UN.”

VFG Director Andrew Dunnett noted that strengthening communications resources for emergency response teams are essential in enhancing relief operations.

“Vodafone Group Foundation has a long term commitment to this work and we are pleased to be scaling this up with WFP,” he said.

WFP takes the lead role for the UN in emergencies for food, security, communications and logistics. Amid devastation in almost every corner of the globe – from the massive Indian Ocean tsunami to the drought and locust infestation in Africa, the earthquake in Kashmir, the hurricanes that have battered Central America, and the floods across Europe and Asia, WFP is pivotal in ensuring rapid communications that save lives and livelihoods.