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South Sudan: 2012 Year in Review

South Sudan won its independence in 2011, but over a year and a half later the world’s youngest nation still faces immense challenges. Hunger, insecurity, displacement, remoteness, natural disasters and disease all take their toll on a population still reeling from half a century of civil war. Even the most basic infrastructure to assist expanding humanitarian operations is virtually non-existent, particularly in the area of telecommunications.

The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is filling this gap. By providing coordination and telecommunications services to humanitarian organizations on the ground, it enables a more efficient, focused response. In 2012, the ETC continued its vital work helping the people of South Sudan build a new nation.


2012 in Numbers

100% Humanitarian staff provided with radio coverage in the common operational areas of each of the 10 state capitals
>1,000 Radios programmed for the humanitarian community
2,223 ICT support tasks completed for the humanitarian community
428 Humanitarian staff provided with radio training
23 Humanitarian staff provided with Let's Comm training
>3,000 Humanitarian staff utilised the ground-breaking ETC response solution



  • Ensured new telecommunications legislation covered the requirements of the humanitarian community
  • Coordination and management of the common telecommunications network
  • Management of VHF/HF frequencies, selcalls and call signs and allocation to all UN agencies and NGOs

Voice and Data Connectivity

  • Provision of data connectivity to 3,000 aid workers from 248 different organizations in Bentiu, Maban, Renk, Pibor and Yida via the pioneering ETC response solution, significantly enhancing emergency management and coordination (see below)

Security Telecommunications

  • Review of existing VHF/HF network and strengthening of capacity; the radio network was expanded to cover the entire common operational area of all the 10 state capitals
  • Installation and maintenance of telecommunications equipment including VHF repeaters, vehicle and base radios
  • Programming of over 1,000 radios for the humanitarian community (double the amount of radios programmed in 2011) and the completion of 2,223 telecommunications support tasks for the UN and NGO community, both in the capital, Juba, and the deep field
  • Upgrade of all telecommunications equipment to ensure MOSS compliancy


  • Radio training delivered to 428 people from nine UN agencies and 108 NGOs across eight locations resulting in increased understanding of radio usage and protocols
  • Delivery of Let’s Comm training to 23 people from 18 NGOs and two UN agencies resulting in increased understanding of radio installation and programming, VHF/HF networks, configuration of communications equipment and MOSS standards. In addition, it increased the security telecommunications capacity of the humanitarian community

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ETC response solution


In January 2012 the ETC in South Sudan pioneered the ground-breaking ETC response solution.

The solution, which has been jointly developed by the Directorate for Development Cooperation in Luxembourg, Ericsson Response and WFP, allows the rapid deployment of voice and data telecommunications services anywhere in the world.

So far it has served more than 3,000 aid workers in Bentiu, Maban, Renk, Pibor and Yida. This has significantly enhanced their capacity for emergency management and coordination, and has allowed them to contact their loved ones to assure them of their safety. The installations were assisted by ETC Stand-by Partners RedR Australia and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).

“It has really benefited humanitarian operations in this country,” says Marianne Donven, Head of the Humanitarian Aid Desk at the Directorate for Development Cooperation. “I could feel that with all the efforts we have put into this project over the last two years, we have really come up with a valuable solution that will truly improve humanitarian response.”

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  • Delays importing and exporting telecoms equipment
  • Difficulty in transporting equipment around the country, particularly during the rainy season
  • Uncertainty regarding the implementation of new telecommunications legislation
  • Lack of funding

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2013 Plans

Despite the successes of 2012, many challenges lie ahead. Infrastructure remains in poor condition with limited road access and there is virtually no GSM or telecommunications support in some field locations.

Refugee populations are increasing as neighbouring countries suffer from instability and conflict. The rampant flooding across South Sudan during the rainy season displaces hundreds of thousands and causes widespread suffering. Inter-communnal clashes and seasonal cattle-raiding are on the increase and food insecurity persists.

In 2013, the ETC will continue to provide rapid, reliable, and independent telecommunications services to the humanitarian community as it strives to alleviate these problems.

Read the South Sudan Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for 2013 here.

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The Humanitarian Internet Support Project (HISP)


In 2013, the ETC in South Sudan will implement the Humanitarian Internet Support Project (HISP).

The project will provide the humanitarian community with their own dedicated internet and telephony network. It will be fast, reliable and affordable; essential attributes in a country with limited telecommunications infrastructure, poor coverage and high connectivity costs.

HISP will be rolled out in eight different locations with a projected user base of 100 humanitarian workers per location. Services will include:

High-speed internet connectivity:

  • Dedicated bandwidth for each agency with the potential to utilise additional, unused capacity
  • Extended connectivity to offices via microwave radio link
  • Installation of indoor and outdoor infrastructure for data network reception

Integrated telephony:

  • Separate Voice over IP telephony services to call off-net with individual billing for each organization
  • A cheap and reliable alternative to the commercial mobile phone network


  • Once subscribed, humanitarian staff will be able to utilise the services from any location within the HISP cloud