NetHope Situation Report 2 — 2013-11-09

Overall Situation

The initial reports coming out ofthe worst hit areas paint a dire picture of the situation after Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda), one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, crossed the Philippines. At this moment it is currently heading towards Vietnam, having lost some of its strength.

The worst hit area is in and around the city of Tacloban, where 90% of the houses were destroyed. A three meter (10 feet) high storm surge ripped through the city as record winds were blowing. Unconfirmed reports of hundreds of bodies in the streets have surfaced in the media.

The first joint assessment teams reported that they had difficulties in getting around due to enormous amounts of debris on the roads. The airport in Tacloban is closed except to relief flights. Other areas reported to have suffered substantial damage are Aklan, Palo, and Roxas City. Many other areas suffered significant damage and power is limited in many areas in the path of the storm.

Evaciation Center in Cagayan de Oro ( Photo courtesy World Vision International)

The latest official death toll is 138, but Philippines Red Cross is estimating it will top 1,200. Over 4.2 million people were affected and over 330,000 are in evacuation centers. These number are expected to rise as initial communication is established with the worst affected areas.

The Government of Philippines, has formally requested international assistance for this disaster. Quite notably, the Government highlighted the need to improve communication capabilities which are essential to enable effective coordination and provision of humanitarian assistance.

General Coordination

The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) together with the Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership, Télécoms Sans Frontière and MapAction have arrived in Tacloban. Part of the team will also deploy to Roxas City to set up a coordination hub. A team from EU and the ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Team are working with UNDAC.

A joint humanitarian assessment is being conducted by UNDAC and other humanitarian organizations. Teams are being deployed to the field over the weekend. Once the results of these joint rapid assessments come in, a better overview of the situation will be available.

Telecommunication Situation

At the request of the Government of the Philippines, the UN has activated its Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (ETC), which will coordinate all the emergency telecommunication aspects for the international community. To lead this coordination, an ETC Coordinator has been deployed to the Philippines. The cluster is also looking at deploying additional telecommunication equipment if needed.

NetHope is closely collaborating with the ETC and is deploying a response team along with partner organizations to support the ETC, its NGO members and others in the humanitarian community with communication services.

The telecommunication provider Globe reports that they continue working on restoration of communication services. Two hard hit areas Iloilo and Roxas City are now again working. According to their latest damage assessment about 53% of the Globe network in the Visayas region was adversely affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

Globe reports that service areas affected include those in Aklan, Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Capiz, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Siquijor, Southern Leyte and Western Samar.The disruption in the Visayas region is mostly due to multiple transmission link failures and prolonged commercial power outages.

Voice, text and data services from Globe are available in large parts of the following areas: Antique — 45%, Bohol — 64%, Cebu — 60%, Guimaras-88%, Iloilo-64%, Negro Occidental-70%, Negros Oriental-87%, Northern Samar-8%, Southern Leyte-28%, Siquijor-100% and Western Samar-2%.

The telecommunication provider Smart reports that they have also commenced restoration work of facilities affected. They report that about 15% of their cellular coverage in the three regions of Central Philippines was affected by the typhoon, most of these in Eastern Samar and Leyte.Less than one percent of the Smart network in Mindanao was affected, mostly in Surigao del Norte while less than 10% of their network in South Luzon was affected, mostly in Masbate, Romblon.

Services are up and running in Southern Leyte, Kalibo and Boracay in Aklan province. So is Ormoc City and they are moving on to the surrounding municipalities from there.

Power interruptions continue to remain being the biggest obstacle for restoring communication services.

Télécoms Sans Frontiérs (TSF) was one of the first ICT based responders on the ground. They have performed some initial telecoms assessmentsas well as installing three functioning satellite connections in Talcoban. The first one provides internet to the Filipino NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) as well as the Ministry of Telecommunication. The second, which is used by the United Nations agencies of OCHA, WFP and UNDAC, and the third for all of the other humanitarian organisations present in the area.

Working in collaboration with local telephone operator, SMART, TSF has carried out assessments of the telecom situation and it is estimated that it could take up to two months or more before the telecommunications networks are restored.

NetHope Member Response

The following NetHope member organizations are currently responding or planning to respond:

NetHope is already receiving numerous requests for ICT support from its member organizations and their local implementation partners and is planning to launch an emergency appeal to its supporters on Monday, November 11th, 2013.

NetHope works closely with its private sector partners and government partners on identifying and coordinating additional ICT support to the affected communities.

Individuals are invited to support NetHope’s work by donating to our Emergency Response Fund. Corporations, foundations, and other organizations interested in supporting our efforts either financially or through in-kind donation, are asked to contact our emergency group directly at emergency @ NetHope dot org.

Other Useful Information Sources

About NetHope

NetHope’s mission is to act as a catalyst for collaboration, bringing together the knowledge and power of 41 leading international humanitarian organizations so that the best information communication technology and practices can be used to serve people in the developing world.

Find out more about our work at http://www.nethope.org

Published November 9th 2013 at Medium