Mobile Industry Earthquake Preparedness; A focus on best practise and partnership development in Nepal

On the 15th and 16th of April, the GSMA Disaster Response Programme will be co-hosting a 2-day event on “Mobile Industry Earthquake Preparedness; A focus on best practise and partnership development in Nepal”. The event is co-hosted with the Nepal Telecommunications Authority and aims to provide a platform to share challenges and best practices from earthquake risk markets. Representatives will attend from Government, telecommunications authorities, MNOs, disaster management agencies and the humanitarian community.

Mobile communications play a critical role prior to, during and following disasters, through a range of activities from supporting early warning systems, facilitating access to emergency services and as a tool through which to access potentially lifesaving information.

The earthquake risk in Nepal is very real. A survey by the Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Project warns that if an earthquake measuring anywhere close to 8.4 on the Richter scale (the same strength as the catastrophic 1934 earthquake) was to hit Nepal today, up to six in ten buildings would risk collapse and over 100,000 people could be injured and affected. Such an event could have a major impact upon mobile networks and as such MNOs must be prepared, both to withstand the physical shock of earthquakes and also to effectively respond, coordinate and restore. Mobile communications will be of vital importance to relief efforts in such a scenario.

The GSMA Disaster Response Programme aims to improve coordination between mobile operators, governments and the humanitarian response community in order to enable more effective preparedness and response to disasters such as earthquakes. One major achievement in this area was the recent launch of the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter at Mobile World Congress (March 2015). The Charter represents a set of principles for the mobile industry to commit to which recognise the humanitarian importance of connectivity, and the role the MNOs play in providing this during times of crisis. Charter signatories have committed to a programme of activities to ensure this connectivity is accessible to affected populations.

As a continuation of this work, the Disaster Response programme will hold this multi-operator, multi-sector 2-day session in Kathmandu, Nepal. Its aim is to circulate lessons learnt and deconstruct high-level best practises. The Nepal Telecommunications Authority is taking a leading role is supporting this process. Nepalese MNOs will take part in the event, and MNOs from Turkey and the Philippines will join to share their expertise and to learn from collective experience. The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey (AFAD) and the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) will also attend to share their expertise. Other contributors at the workshop will include; Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent and National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) as well as vendors, ZTE and Huawei. An expected outcome of the workshop is a greater level of collaboration and dialogue between these stakeholders on preparatory activities and an increased potential for supportive interaction in future earthquake response efforts.

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