Testimonial of the UNOCHA Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator on TSF’s operations

Publication date: Apr 12, 2019
“TSF is a key partner for UNOCHA. In an operation of this scale, with such a high number of actors involved, if I can’t communicate and we can’t communicate, nothing works.” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), explains the crucial role of TSF’s support to the humanitarian response in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.
Sebastian Rhodes Stampa during his missionin Mozambique

Sebastian coordinates the majority of the United Nations’ and implementing partners’ operations in the affected area. Thanks to TSF’s support, humanitarian actors can regularly communicate externally on their actions. “TSF is providing critical communications to support our operations. We are sending a huge amount of graphical information on the situation here to donors and our headquarters, as well as to the humanitarian actors present in the different coordination centres.”

Indeed, having access to reliable internet connection makes the whole relief response process possible. “If we don’t have that facility we cannot share graphical representations of the situation and it is very difficult to establish a common operating picture. If everybody doesn’t understand what the problem is, and how we are running operations, then very quickly the coordination breaks down. TSF’s action allows us to share this essential information. Without that, the operation doesn’t work.

In addition to the support to UNOCHA, TSF provides assistance in the whole humanitarian response. “What TSF does is to provide a facility, but not only to us, it also supports the national and local government, and of course they set up a calling service to allow the affected people to contact their loved ones. A very small footprint, a very big service.”         

As part of these operations, on Saturday, TSF teams installed the first satellite connection in a Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) centre between Dondo and Mafambisse (around 30km north of Beira), from which their team is coordinating a field hospital and a cholera treatment unit. The local mobile network has been partially restored in the area, but the connection is not reliable enough for MSF teams to effectively carry out their response to the cholera outbreak. Thanks to the satellite connection installed by TSF, 35 MSF staff members can work directly from the centre and thus speed up their operations by avoiding travels to better connected areas. In view of the rapid rise of cholera cases which are now confirmed at over 4,000, such fast response is of paramount importance.

After almost one month since the impact of Cyclone Idai on the Mozambican coastal region, mobile networks are being restored and many areas are now connected. While the first phase of the emergency is ending, TSF remains active to ensure a smooth transition to the recovery phase.  

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