Nepal: Red Cross signs landmark agreement for SMS system to send life-saving text messages to earthquake survivors

Published: 11 May 2015

Kathmandu/Delhi/ Geneva, 11 May 2015: The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Nepal Red Cross Society have teamed up with one of the county’s leading network providers Nepal Telecom, to roll out a potentially life-saving text message service today.

Using an innovative location-targeted SMS system called the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA), texts containing flood and hazard warnings, health advice and updates on earthquake aid provision, will be beamed to mobiles across Nepal. The Koshi River basin area, which regularly faces major flooding, will also be targeted by TERA.

“This life-saving service provides real-time information and warnings on flood risks, disease outbreaks and health advice to geographically targeted communities at the touch of a button,” said Mr Dev Ratna Dhakhwa, Secretary General of the Nepal Red Cross.

“As earthquake survivors battle to recover from this disaster, they are now faced with prospect of the monsoon season which is just weeks away.  TERA can help people prepare for this and make plans that could help keep them and their families safe,” he added.

According to Nepal’s Telecom Authority, 86 per cent of the population use mobile phones, making it one of the most effective means to communicate with large numbers of people. It is estimated that the Red Cross TERA partnership with Nepal Telecom will reach more than 1.1 million users initially. The messages will also contain information on relief distributions and protection issues such as gender-based violence and child welfare. The system can also be used to gather information through simple questionnaires which will inform and improve the effectiveness of Red Cross activities.

Nepal Telecom managing director Buddhi Prasad Acharya said: “We are proud to support this free system which will get the right information to people at the right time. It will help families affected by the earthquake, but also those threatened by the coming monsoon and other hazards.”

TERA technology has been used by the IFRC in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake and in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, and is being rolled out in 40 disaster-prone countries. Head of the IFRC in Nepal, Ritva Lahti, said: “People need information as much as they need emergency supplies and we hope TERA will provide a vital link between the Red Cross and communities in even the most remote areas.”

The Nepal Red Cross is running a twice weekly radio show to keep hundreds of thousands of listeners up to date on its relief operation as well as provide information and advice.  It has also reached hundreds of thousands of people through its social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook.

The IFRC and the Nepal Red Cross is continuing to provide emergency relief such as tents, tarpaulins, safe water and sanitation, medical care and food to hundreds of thousands of people across 14 of the worst-hit quake districts.

For further information, please contact:

 

In Kathmandu

Nichola Jones, IFRC communications delegate

Tel: +977 9803914943 +447793167032 / Twitter @nicjones81

 

Maude Froberg, IFRC regional communications manager

Tel: +918130918887/98  maude.froberg@ifrc.org  Twitter: @maudefroberg

 

In Kuala Lumpur

Patrick Fuller, IFRC Asia Pacific communications manager

Tel: +977 980391 +60122308451 / Patrick.fuller@ifrc.org Twitter: @pat_fuller and @IFRCAsiapacific

 

Reeni Amin Chua, IFRC communications senior officer

Tel: +41797086273 / reeni.aminchua@ifrc.org

 

In Geneva

Benoit Carpentier, IFRC team leader, public communications

Tel: +41792132413  Email: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org Twitter: @BenoistC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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