Philippines: TSF reconnects the Island of Bohol

Philippines: TSF reconnects the Island of Bohol


On receiving alert of the earthquake which struck the Philippines on 15th October, Télécoms Sans Frontières’ Asia-based team in Bangkok left immediately the following morning for the island of Bohol. More than 3 million people are affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the force of which triggered landslides which engulfed homes and destroyed infrastructures.

While power was restored in the more urbanised areas of the island of Bohol, the scale of the disaster meant that electricity was still cut off in rural and remote areas and thus telecommunications structures were unavailable leaving certain communities isolated from the rest of the island. Télécoms Sans Frontières is aware of the need for telecommunications in disaster zones and thus reached out to the most remote areas of the island not only to help coordinate the much needed humanitarian aid, but also to provide means of contact for the thousands of families affected by this disaster.

tsfphilippinesbganAccording to official figures released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), almost 400,000 people were affected by the earthquake that hit the island of Bohol on 15th October 2013.

Within the framework of its mission, Télécoms Sans Frontières worked in collaboration with Plan International, OCHA and local telephone operator, SMART. One of the priorities on arrival in the town of Loon (one of the towns most affected by the earthquake) was to reconnect the town hall. After carrying out an assessment of the telecom situation, the TSF team set up an internet connection and Wi-Fi bridge in order that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the local police and the local government could coordinate their actions and bring the help required to the thousands of people affected.

Similar telecoms centres were also put into place in the towns of Maribojoc and Sagbayan to the benefit of local governments and the Filipino Department of Health.

The scope of the earthquake left these three towns, Loon, Maribojoc and Sagbayan cut off from the rest of the country. The inhabitants were able to benefit from the Humanitarian Calling Operations (HCO) proposed by Télécoms Sans Frontières who travelled around the island offering the affected populations the opportunity to call their families both in the Philippines and abroad to give them news on their situation.