See the ETC Service Catalogue for services provided in emergency operations



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Emergency Telecommunications Cluster



The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is a global network of organizations that work together to provide common communications services in humanitarian emergencies.

Within 48 hours of a disaster, the ETC provides vital security communications services and voice and internet connectivity to assist humanitarian workers in their life-saving operations. Within four weeks, ETC services are expanded for continued emergency relief.

Timely, predictable, and effective information and communications technology (ICT) services provided by the ETC support improved:

  • Response and coordination among humanitarian organizations
  • Operational security environment for staff and assets
  • Decision-making through timely access to critical information.

ETC mandate:

To provide timely, predictable and effective Information Communications Technology services to support the humanitarian community in carrying out their work efficiently, effectively and safely.

Partnering for effective emergency response

UN agencies and programmes, NGOs, Stand-by Partners, government and other humanitarian organizations partner with the ETC to fulfil its mandate and objectives. In emergency situations, members exchange information and expertise and provide personnel, equipment and solutions. Innovation of information management tools is a priority, and facilitates collaboration and coordination between members, while ensuring staff security in the field.

Services are deployed in defined ‘common operational areas', i.e. areas approved by the Humanitarian Country Team in which the majority of United Nations (UN) agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are based. The ETC has been activated in 25 countries since 2007.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the Global ETC lead, and normally also at country level, to enhance response predictability. The ETC country lead has responsibility for coordinating the deployment and implementation of security and data communications services and also must fulfill the role of ‘Provider of Last Resort'.

Using ETC services

Staff from all humanitarian organizations can use ETC services, regardless of membership. ETC activities are field-driven, with plans and projects reviewed and endorsed by local working groups.

Representatives from aid organizations interested in participating in inter-agency ICT services and informationsharing can attend local working group meetings.

Becoming an ETC member

Organizations which have an interest in humanitarian assistance, will support the achievement of the mandate of the ETC and can commit to making a positive contribution to the ETC, can become an ETC member.

ETC membership is open to all IASC members. Non-IASC members can submit a request to the ETC Secretariat to attend the bi-annual Plenary Meetings as an observer and submit a formal membership application.

Contributing to the ETC

Non-humanitarian organizations can contribute to the ETC's mission in different ways:

  • Cash Donations are flexible and allow the ETC to respond to humanitarian ICT needs quickly and efficiently. Funds can also be channelled effectively to help support the local market, promoting sustainability.
  • In-kind Donations, whether in the form of goods, services, visibility campaigns or human resources, support ETC operations by enabling it to focus on its core mission and competencies.
  • Stand-by Capacity - Stand-by Partners are organizations that support the ETC by p roviding expert staff resources and/or technical solutions in emergencies.

For more information about the services provided by the ETC, visit: Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Service Catalogue