Connectivity and telephony in Haiti's most affected towns
In the direct aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, TSF-trained volunteers from the National Association of the Scouts of Haiti were on the ground collaborating the National EmergencyOperations Centre (COUN) and the Haitian Civil Protection body in Port-au-Prince.
A team from TSF's International Headquarters arrived in the zone on 5th October, the day following the passage of Hurricane Matthew. Initial assessments report malfunctions in communications in the departments of Sud (South) and Grande-Anse (both at the southern tip of Haiti where the eye of the storm hit the hardest).
Two telecom centres have been set up in the Departmental Emergency Operations Centres in Jérémie and Les Cayes, the two towns most heavily affected by the disaster. These connections allow the government aid agency and the humanitarian community to coordinate their operations in an environment where the terrestrial network remains unstable. Amongst the beneficiaries are the Haitian Civil Protection body, the International Federation of Red Cross Societies (IFRC), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, and the Coordination and Assessment agency of the United Nations (UNOCHA).
Response organisations are facing a particularly difficult context, with a cholera epidemic sweeping across the country and security conditions that render their work challenging. TSF has made available 3 dedicated satellite lines to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Médecins du Monde (MdM) as well as Belgian NGO, Kenbe Fèm. These lines are used to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel whilst they are operating in high-risk areas, making certain that their teams can be contacted at all times, and indeed can call out in the event of deteriorating security conditions.
TSF teams alongside TSF-trained Haitian Scout volunteers have been sent out to the communities cut off by the Hurricane to provide calls to families that have not yet been able to contact their loved ones. To date, almost 550 households have been able to restore their family ties thanks to TSF operations.