Communications as a Lifeline in Haiti

Posted by Philip Verveer
July 13, 2010
Haitian Man on Cell Phone

More information:2010 Earthquake in HaitiAbout the Author: Ambassador Philip Verveer serves as U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy

Six months ago, an earthquake of catastrophic magnitude struck Haiti. The effects, as we all know too well, were devastating.

Restoring the country's telecommunications capacity was one of the main concerns in the hours and days that followed. The need for communications capabilities that drive life-saving rescue and response efforts and also connect loved ones desperate for information, was crucial. Recognizing this need, many in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry responded swiftly and generously, donating equipment, supplies, expertise, funds, and human resources.

On July 9, I, along with Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez and Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, Steven Lett, hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from the ICT industry and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provided direct telecommunications assistance to Haiti during this time of need.

Roundtable participants shared their experiences in helping to assess, stabilize, maintain, and rebuild ICT capabilities in Haiti. Through public-private partnerships, ICT companies and NGOs at the roundtable recounted how they contributed, and continue to contribute, in valuable ways ranging from donating and rebuilding mobile infrastructure such as cellular towers, to supporting Internet infrastructure, to coordinating the establishment of the 4636 “short code” emergency text system and the rapid launch of mobile-giving programs, to providing food and shelter for telecommunication workers and their families in Haiti. This roundtable also took a critical look at how to improve response efforts in future disaster situations, as well as the emergency response and restoration plans and resources these entities currently have in place or plan to implement.

Our work is not done. While Haiti looks ahead, it is important to restore and rebuild Haiti's communications infrastructure in an innovative and sustainable way that provides a secure foundation for further developing ICT as a driver of economic growth and social advancement. As the international community continues to respond to this tragedy, it is through these types of conversations that we can not only continue to address Haiti's communications needs, but also be ready to respond the next time a disaster occurs.

Comments

Comments

donald m.
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Virginia, USA
July 22, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

July 15, 2010

Instead of sending bottled water to Haiti, make a water plant and start pumping fresh water to the people. Build homes made of concrete not of wood. The stick homes do not hold up to bad weather, like concrete homes. Make plans for thousands of homes, install the water and sewer lines, I heard on the news over 1.2 billion dollars for Haiti relief, is it really getting to the people? I think the United States has some old ships that could make water, they could be used in the meantime while a water plant is being built.

Summary: The island needs heavy equipment to move the rubble and start the construction of homes and businesses. New water plant, new pipelines for water and sewer, diagrams for concrete homes, not stick built homes. Where is Mr. Bill Clinton, he is the envoy to Haiti? This is and should be his responsibility to ensure everything is being done to help the Haitian people. I hope he is on the job!

James S.
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Virginia, USA
July 15, 2010

James S. in Virginia writes:

The commision over Haiti is taking land that does not belong to them near the Dominican Border where tens of thousand of Haitians live and farm they are holding the best land for their luxury houses and sweatshops to make them rich.
Synchro, Haliburton Brown and Root are holding all the money. This is Iraq all over again. please reign this in and change the leadership on this even though I voted for Bill Clinton.
Please restore the Haitian Parliment. Even better let the democratically elected leader, Aristide return. The commission in Haiti is run by ex coup plotters, foreign bankers, and wealthy elites who were not elected by the Hatian government.

James S.
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Virginia, USA
July 16, 2010

James S. in Virginia writes:

I just read news from Oxfam. The money I gave them is getting blocked from use because the IHRC is requiring all plans to be vetted but is just sitting on their hands six months later. Please disband the IHRC this den of thieves should be removed from power. Let the elected Haitian Parliment work directly with NGO's like Oxfam and PIH who have so much experience helping in developing nations. The IHRC is just helping themselves to the loot as business as usual continues.

donald m.
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Virginia, USA
July 16, 2010

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

July 16, 2010

I agree with James S. in Virginia, there should be "Oversight involved with charity groups" because how do know if they are truly committed on taking care of the needs or demands of the people, because the money ends up in the wrong hands. Almost like the Television Pastors who minister on the networks, make big money, and the poor people never see a dime. However, the pastor is rich, successful and lives a kings life. Is that really what Jesus had in mind about spreading the gospel? Spreading the word should not be about banking and making money, it should be about doing something good and positive for the people. I say again, "Where is Mr. Bill Clinton who is suppose to lead this adventure and help those people?" Politics is one thing, but the Haitian people need help not politicans who say they will help and stick around for a few days, then take off in a plane and go on vacation. Do the people of Haiti get a vacation after a big earthquake that killed over 200,000 people? Do they get to visit a World Soccer Cup game? doubtful, there having enough trouble getting fresh water and a home to live in. People should care enough to say something!!! I'm putting Mr. Bill Clinton on the spot because he has done great things, he was excellent when it came to handling money, but at the present, the peoples prayers go un-answered in Haiti. One last time, "Put on the Game Face" as the cable guy would say, "Get er Done"!

OysterCracker
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United States
July 16, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Anymore I don't think people should give money to charities because their is too much graft. I'd rather see development teams go in for a specified time and build water systems, supply building materials and teach people how to build structurally sound housing. Teaching people how to build and install systems of housing, education, agriculture, and legal systems can help them establish the society and tailor fit it to their needs. America should be a development "coach son that they can form lasting partnerships. The problem is with greedy people who want to amass personal fortunes. They shouldn't be in charge because they don't have the common peoples interest at heart.

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