Free Calls & Connections for Victims of Thailand Floods
December 16, 2010
In early November 2010, heavy rainfall in Southern Thailand caused devastating flooding across the region. Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, called the disaster "one of the worst natural calamities" to ever hit the country. Over 200 people were killed and nearly seven million people in over 25,000 villages were affected by the flooding that began in early October 2010.
With so many families separated during the evacuations, many were desperate for a way to contact their loved ones, but were unable to do so because of disrupted power lines and damaged communications infrastructure.
With funding and support from the United Nations Foundation & Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership, a group of telecommunications experts from Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) were immediately deployed to the region to support the needs of the affected population.
TSF worked quickly to assess the widespread damage, fix phone and power lines, and set up generators in central locations for people to recharge their mobile phones. The TSF team also identified seven sites in need of emergency call centers. Working closely with the government and local operators, TSF set up humanitarian calling operations in three districts to enable families and individuals to re-connect with friends and loved ones. Equipped with satellite phones and mobile phones, TSF offered free calls to over 100 families, with 22% of the calls going internationally to countries such as Malaysia, Germany, and Australia.