The Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) in the implementation of the Government Emergency Communications System (GECS).
According to a recent press release, GECS is the Department’s project aimed at providing emergency communications system in disaster-stricken areas.
This will aid the responders and the authorities in making necessary and appropriate decisions and actions.
In addition, the project also intends to strengthen disaster preparedness in communities across the country.
GECS is critical because one of the first casualties when disaster strikes is reportedly the communication infrastructure.
Response to people immediately needing help and coordination among responders are impeded and delayed because they are not able to communicate.
Typhoons, among other disasters, cause damage in different parts of the country. This underscores the need for a better and effective communication system in place to help government in disaster response.
Mobile Operations Vehicles for Emergency (MOVE) is a flagship component of the DICT’s emergency communications system.
Based on the plan, each MOVE set has one six-wheeler truck, which will serve as the command and control centre.
This will make possible the coordination efforts of the first-responders and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
It will also act as the base station near evacuation centres to provide evacuees connectivity with their loved ones.
Additionally, it is equipped with one pick-up truck and one motorcycle that will bring connectivity to first-responders in ground zero.
Partnering with WFP
During a recent symposium on Disaster Management, the Chief of DICT’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management Division explained that WFP will not only act as a responder when disaster arises in the Philippines.
In fact, the organisation will also be involved in the capacity building component of the GECS, which is centred on disaster preparedness.
They are particularly focused in the development of the emergency telecommunications training centre and training manuals.
They will also be involved with the conduct of trainers’ training and the nationwide information caravan.
The World Food Programme is the lead agency of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).
The ETC is a global network of humanitarian, government and private sector organisations working together to provide secure communications, reliable Internet connectivity, and technical help desk services, among others, in humanitarian emergencies.
It also engages in disaster preparedness efforts, such as training exercises for its partners to be deployed in areas hit by disasters and coordination with local, national and regional stakeholders before disaster strikes.
The Philippine Government has limited human resources, funding and communication facilities, which is the reason why the WFP is tapped because they are the experts in emergency telecommunications.
More initiatives needed
Additionally, the Chief underscored the significance of coming up with more initiatives that will enable international collaboration on disaster risk reduction and management.
There is a need for more collaboration in terms of capacity building. International training centres should be opened in order for everyone to be able to share their experiences and skills.
Having that linkage will allow everyone to work together more as well as respond to disasters more easily in a uniformed and strategic manner.