By Emmanuel Mpango, World Vision Malawi
I first heard of NetHope when I joined World Vision Malawi in 2015. As World Vision Malawi’s (WV) IT Infrastructure and Networks Administrator, my role encompasses the management of WV Malawi’s IT infrastructure systems. This position also entails that I cover support for disaster response teams and this background is how I first became involved with NetHope.
Part of my responsibilities means that I am WV’s point person for remote VSAT support. This required that I go through a VSAT training certification. Fortunately, this is where being a member of NetHope was an advantage as WV was eligible for a discount for the certification.
Soon after my VSAT training, NetHope reached out to the WVI Disaster Management Team calling for participants to attend the Africa Region NetHope Disaster Response Training (DRT) in November 2019. I was nominated as one of the participants because I am part of the WV ICT deployable staff, have been through WVI’s ICT in Emergencies Learning Program, over and above supporting emergency responses in Malawi, and most recently deployed to Mozambique to support our emergency response to Cyclone Idai, where I was instrumental in setting up (and scaling up) the ICT infrastructure for the response. So, the fit was perfect.
My main expectation from this inter-agency partnered exercise was to take advantage of the learning opportunity from the facilitators and member organizations. Collectively, they provided years of experience in supporting emergency response scenarios. You never learn from one deployment experience alone as each deployment is different depending on the context.
For week in November, 25 participants from 11 NetHope member organizations, and employees of partners Cisco and Facebook were taken through our paces, learning every aspect of field deployment, accessing sites and setting up networks in difficult scenarios. This training highlighted the importance of inter-agency coordination and preparedness efforts to strengthen existing local capacity in emergency operations. As participants, we worked in teams to deploy NetHope technical communications solutions under challenging conditions of which some of the objectives were to:
- Provide emergency responders with practical experience deploying NetHope common ICT services in a simulated emergency response environment.
- Provide exposure to common NetHope solutions for data communications.
- Create a strong element of inter-agency coordination.
- Build on the technical and coordination capacity of NetHope members to support Nethope emergency preparedness and response activities.
This training was very beneficial for my role at WV International as it mended the coordination gap that some support services lack in a deployment setting. Due to the training, I am now able to deploy NetHope ICT services that not only benefit the affected communities but provide support to partnering organizations that would require these services.
These opportunities got me thinking: what is NetHope and what does it do? Being employed by a NetHope member organization, I quickly discovered how I and WV benefit from trainings and have witnessed projects facilitated by NetHope to provide solutions that ease the work humanitarian non-governmental organizations encounter in the field. A good example of this can be seen on the demand aggregation for improved connectivity project which aims to reduce the fundamental challenges that NetHope members face in their field operations with access to broadband connectivity.
I am proud to have attended the November 2019 Africa region NetHope disaster response in training. I can wholeheartedly recommend this training for anyone working to provide support services in an emergency response.
Emmanuel Mpango has been World Vision Malawi’s (WV) IT Infrastructure and Networks Administrator for the last six years. The role encompasses the management of WV Malawi’s IT infrastructure systems, and is responsible for implementing, maintaining, and supporting remote systems at a global scale to ensure operation of secure and highly available computing platforms.
Other blog posts related to Disaster Response Training:
- Learning from Disaster – Disaster Response Training
- Tools of the Trade
- Disaster response training course launched for Asia region
- Designing a disaster: An interview with Gisli Olafsson
- Be prepared: Response training readies responders for disasters
- Planning a disaster: Details and expertise required for disaster preparation training