February 3, 2017 10:06 am

New radio packs to assist in disaster communication

The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Office this week received two high-frequency (HF) radio packs from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The HF backpacks will be used by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) for their operations and are part of WFP’s ongoing efforts to strengthen emergency communication systems in Fiji, in its role as lead agency for the Pacific Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).

Department of Information.
Department of Information.

The HF radio backpacks are a rugged, portable all-in-one system for long distance communications over an independent voice network.

“Since the establishment of its regional office in Fiji recently, the World Food Programme has continually engaged with the NDMO to upgrade the dilapidated state of emergency communications in the Ministry,” Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural Maritime Development & National Disaster Management, Hon. Joeli Cawak said.

“This engagement is important as communication is a vital component of emergency response operations.”

He went on to thank WFP for upgrading ten sites, including NDMO headquarters last year and said the ministry would like WFP to continue its upgrade initiatives in collaboration with the NDMO. “Your assistance is timely as Fiji prepares for future disaster events, and especially during this current cyclone season,” Assistant Minister Cawaki added.

“In a disaster situation when “normal” communication systems may become unavailable it’s vital to have alternative communication options for coordination,” said Salma Farouque, WFP Pacific Emergency Telecommunications Coordinator.

WFP’s Head of Office, Peter French, commended the Ministry and NDMO on their work. “The WFP is pleased to be a part of Fiji’s emergency communications upgrade and looks forward to providing further practical assistance as we collaborate with the Government towards strengthening the country’s preparedness capabilities.”

In line with its global mandate and obligations as the head of the humanitarian clusters for emergency logistics, telecommunications and food security, WFP established a technical presence in the Pacific in late 2015 to assist regional governments with their emergency preparedness measures, and to enhance their capacity to support people in need.

This support is coordinated through WFP’s office in Fiji. The regional programme focuses on assisting five priority Pacific Island nations, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands, as well as potential support in Northern Pacific Island States.