Mobile-enabled early warning in Cambodia: Field visit with GSMA Innovation Fund grantees 

In January 2024, we visited Cambodia where we were hosted by two organisations from the GSMA Innovation Fund for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, People in Need and ActionAid. Both organisations have been instrumental in developing the EWS 1294 system for Cambodia, launched in 2013.

The purpose of this visit was to spend time with these grantees and project stakeholders, discussing how the GSMA and the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) programme can support their development and how we can link these localised solutions to global ambitions on early warning.  

Putthy San, Team Leader at ActionAid, with a ground water level sensor (used for drought response)

The GSMA is actively contributing to the UN Early Warning for All initiative, a global effort to ensure everyone on earth is protected by an early warning system by the end of 2027. Our M4H team contributes directly as a member of Pillar 3 on “warning dissemination and communication” led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). We are uniquely positioned to support the initiative through the GSMA’s global network of mobile network operator members as well as humanitarian and other private sector partners.  

Our commitment to this initiative has formed part of our strategy to contribute towards the minimisation of humanitarian impacts and the improvement of preparedness in the face of sudden-onset crises. Through our GSMA Innovation Fund for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, we made the decision to fund projects that anticipate incidence and impacts of crises and enable earlier and more effective responses. EWS 1294 is an impressive system and provides a vital service to several communities across rural Cambodia. It is built from the ground up, it is community led, with strong by-in from relevant government authorities and cooperation with private sector actors. Our programme has a vision of linking this platform to wider global ambitions on early warning, by sharing learning and best practice to reach even more people with timely and inclusive early warning messages.  

Having met with several government stakeholders (including the National and Provincial Committee’s for Disaster Management) and GSMA members – Smart and Cellcard – our view is that there is a real opportunity to expand on the excellent work done by People in Need and ActionAid and take the next steps towards building a country wide early warning system in Cambodia. Partners and stakeholders expressed interest in cell broadcast technology that is designed to deliver targeted warnings based on location, avoiding network congestion and ensuring that users are alerted to critical information with audible alerts and onscreen messages. We are continuing these discussions and planning with our innovation fund grantees on how we can scale current solutions and develop systems that can reach more people across Cambodia. We also look forward to supporting more digital solutions for humanitarian preparedness and response through our GSMA Innovation Fund for Humanitarian Challenges that is open for applications until 23:59 UTC Monday, 12 February 2024. 

Meeting the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management in the Tbong Kmum district 

With 95% of the world’s population covered by a mobile network and 5.4 billion unique mobile subscribers globally, we are committed to harness the life-saving role of mobile in disseminating and communicating risk alerts. We see an ideal opportunity to connect partners and facilitate further conversations in Cambodia and beyond, and will continue to support progress towards the Early Warnings for All ambition for everyone in the world to be protected by an early warning system by 2027. 

This initiative is currently funded by UK International Development from the UK government and is supported by the GSMA and its members.
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