Tropical storm Cyclone Idai caused massive human destruction in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi with hundreds of deaths and thousands of displacements. Among the international aid that reached the region was support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in the form of 30 satellite phones from Iridium Satellite Communications to Mozambique and 20 satellite phones to be sent to Zimbabwe. Emergency telecommunications can play a pivotal role in the immediate aftermath of disasters through supporting flow of information required for effective co-ordination of humanitarian response efforts. ‘The equipment deployed by ITU will enable vital links to coordinate relief and rescue efforts. ITU is committed to ongoing support during emergencies. When disaster strikes, there is no time to think about what to do and how organize our work. That’s why we are prepared and ready to take action at tragic times like this,’ highlights Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, which co-ordinates ITU’s emergency telecommunications activities.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.