Article

NetHope Deploys Connectivity Team in Aftermath of Indonesian Earthquake

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  • NetHope Blog
  • October 9, 2018
NetHope Deploys Connectivity Team

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

UPDATE: 2018.10.05  As of today, the NetHope team is in Jakarta and have obtained more information from local teams active in the affected areas.  While there are still issues with power, the mobile networks have started to recover rapidly and are providing some connectivity in urban areas.  While we wait for more detailed recovery plans from the service providers, some of our members, such as Save the Children, are establishing long-term response/recovery programs in the affected region. We are working closely with them to determine if connectivity support is necessary through NetHope.

We are also distributing portable satellite solutions (i.e. BGANs and satellite phones) and can offer larger VSAT solutions if required. By early next week, we hope to have better idea if there is a need to provide on-site connectivity services to the humanitarian operations.  Many organizations, including NetHope, are also waiting for permission to enter the affected areas, if required.

COMMUNICATIONS KEY IN RESCUE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS

The devastating aftermath of the September 28th earthquake and resulting tsunami in Indonesia are still being discovered and reckoned with. With more than 1,400 people killed, scores more injured and missing, and the region’s physical and communications infrastructure destroyed, rescue crews continued to comb through the rubble left behind, searching for survivors.

Adding to the difficulty of the search and recovery efforts, as well as helping those who have been left homeless by the disaster, is the need for communication among responders as well as people searching for missing loved ones. That is where NetHope comes in to help create those vital and life-saving communications systems.

Source: European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, ECHO Daily Map, October 1, 2018.

NetHope and its network of global nonprofit members, and tech and funding partners are banding together to send communications experts to assess the damage and make internet connectivity a priority to help speed the work of rescue and recovery. Whether its coordinating workers to locate survivors or meet the immediate needs of food, water, shelter, and first aid, connectivity can be the key between life and death.

Currently, 31 of NetHope’s member organizations are supplying aid to the people of Indonesia, particularly in the hard-struck city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi. Fear and uncertainty continue as more than 200 aftershocks have been felt since the 7.5 magnitude earthquake last week.

On October 1st, the Government of Indonesia, through its emergency response agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, welcomed specific offers of international assistance which are in line with identified humanitarian needs on the ground. More than 1,400 casualties, many more injured and missing, and more than 50,000 people displaced; and these figures are expected to rise as assessments are completed. There are reports of entire villages in Petobo, a neighborhood of thousands on the outskirts of Palu, disappearing due to liquefaction in the ground.

Telecommunications and Power Updates
According to Indonesia’s emergency response agency, reconnecting electricity and communication networks is an urgent humanitarian need. Power outages have caused the mobile communications network in Donggala —the area closest to the epicenter of the first quake — to fail since the electricity supply has been destroyed.  Donggala and surrounding areas are still cut-off from rescuers.

  • There are 276 telephone base stations that cannot be used. Mobile network operators are prioritizing the reconnection of electricity and phone networks.
  • The government’s Rapid Reaction Team is headed toward Donggala with satellite communication equipment.
  • The Ministry of Communication and Information has ordered the Telecommunications and Information Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) to send 30 satellite telephone units to support coordination of disaster management in Donggala and surrounding areas.

Gisli Olafsson (right) sees off Ingolfur Haraldsson and Hörður, members of Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), departing from Iceland for Jakarta with some of the equipment they will utilize to perform assessments on communication needs in the disaster-struck region.

NetHope’s Emergency Response Team, the initial team being made up of individuals from NetHope staff and member organization Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), is on its way to the affected area and will be conducting connectivity assessments once it arrives. They will also set up temporary connectivity hubs to assist aid workers where necessary.

Facebook’s Disaster Maps data shows a loss of connectivity in the tsunami inundation area. 

Members Helping
The following NetHope Members are responding to this emergency:

Deploying emergency teams to conduct assessments:

  • CARE
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • International Medical Corps
  • Medair International
  • Oxfam
  • Save the Children
  • Team Rubicon Global
  • World Vision
  • Samaritan’s Purse.

Responding with aid:

  • ActionAid: Deploying food, water, blankets, diapers, and sanitary kits for women.
  • IFRC: Deploying search and rescue teams, medical workers, ambulances, and water trucks on the ground. Also providing blankets, tarps, and sleeping mats.
  • Islamic Relief: Providing supplies.
  • Plan International: Providing food, water, and shelter — and also child protection, particularly for children who have been separated from their families.

Providing aid to local partners:

  • Childfund International, Christian Aid, and Direct Relief


Our thoughts are with the people of Indonesia and to the remarkable people and organizations working to help on their behalf.


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