Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Project Brief: Papua New Guinea Earthquake Response Common Service | April 1, 2018

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On 26 February 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the highlands region of Papua New Guinea, resulting in a Government-declared state of emergency for Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga provinces. Some 465,000 people are estimated to be affected with 247,000 requiring immediate assistance.

The affected areas have significant access challenges. Majority of humanitarian items must be flown in as roads are not always reliable. In terms of communications, there are limited radio towers and existing FM radio has limited range due to mountains.

With affected communities desperately needing information on aid and assistance, humanitarian actors quickly mobilised to establish a coordinated approach to communicating with communities to more rapidly respond and reach a greater number of affected people with the limited collective resources available. With this, a Communicating with Communities Working Group coordinated by the United Nations Resident Coordinators’ Office under the Protection Cluster was formed.

To reach communities with life-saving messages and alerts, an information line was established using audio streaming over mobile phones – essentially turning mobile phones into radios - with support from Digicel and UN Women. Community members can dial into the information line to hear short updates from humanitarian agencies - 50,000 text messages to be sent twice weekly to promote an information line and share key messages. An additional 10,000 automated calls will be made to the affected area, playing the short messages once the call is connected.

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