Global Partners for Emergency Communications

The Vodafone Group Foundation And United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership Joins World Food Programme To Improve Communications During Humanitarian Crises

Barcelona and London

February 13, 2008


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), The Vodafone Group Foundation, and the United Nations Foundation announced today a ground-breaking global partnership for emergency communications. The partnership will increase the effectiveness of the information and communications technology (ICT) response to major emergencies and disasters around the world.

The partnership – which includes a $4.3 million commitment from The Vodafone Group Foundation-United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership, as well as a further $1.8 million contribution from the WFP – will develop the first-ever ICT training program that will be open to the global community of humanitarian relief organizations.

“Over the next three years, this partnership will contribute to our work to help save millions of lives. Better telecommunications mean we can respond faster and more efficiently, with much greater access to those in urgent need,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP’s Executive Director. She added that WFP was greatly encouraged that The Vodafone Group Foundation and UN Foundation recognized that telecommunications are essential to food aid convoys, aircraft and medical teams delivering vital relief assistance.

The focus of the partnership will be to standardize ICT solutions used by global aid organizations to improve the speed with which critical communications networks can be established in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian crisis. Over the next three years, the program will also:

• expand the pool of trained ICT experts on WFP and other UN and NGO staff to more than 500 first responders

• support the immediate deployment of rapid response ICT teams.

“More and more frequently, the international aid community is being called on to help save lives, restore order and rebuild communities after major disasters,” said Kathy Bushkin Calvin, Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations Foundation. In 2007, aid groups responded to 19 major crises worldwide. “By investing in disaster response before disaster strikes, and by opening this partnership to the entire relief community, we know that this will help strengthen everyone’s efforts on the ground.”

“This is about harnessing the power of telecommunications which will help WFP and other humanitarian agencies get the job done,” said Andrew Dunnett, Director of The Vodafone Group Foundation. “In line with the huge demand for telecoms technology in disaster response, ICT workers are often among the first on the scene. This partnership supports the smart and effective use of telecommunications technology, enabling WFP to deploy quickly in the most difficult and dangerous situations and set up the necessary communications networks, so that relief workers can coordinate logistics and deliver vital supplies.”

The program builds on funding provided by the two Foundations in 2006 to research and develop ICT best practices, and a curriculum used in a preliminary ICT training program last March which trained 21 ICT staff from agencies including WFP, UNICEF, OCHA, Oxfam, and the Swedish Rescue Service Agency. Since then, these experts have been deployed to provide technical expertise in emergencies including the bombing of UN and government offices in Algeria in December 2007, flooding in Bangladesh in November 2007 and during the ongoing flooding in Mozambique.

Note to editors: Multi-media content including downloadable print-quality photographs of humanitarian emergencies and ICT staff working during disaster response is available on the Vodafone media relations website Audiocast reports from WFP ICT staff on recent missions to disasters are available on the UNF website at

About the UN Foundation and The Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership
The UN Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation Partnership is the leading public-private alliance using strategic technology programs to strengthen the UN’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. The Partnership has three core commitments: (1) to develop rapid response telecoms teams to aid disaster relief; (2) to develop health data systems that improve access to health data thereby helping to combat disease; and (3) to promote research and innovative initiatives using technology as an agent and tool for international development. Further information can be found at:

About the World Food Programme (WFP) 
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency: last year, we gave food to 88 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, mostly women and children, in 78 of the world’s poorest countries.

Press contacts:

In Barcelona (at Mobile World Congress):
Adele Waugaman
UN Foundation
M: (+1) 202 758 6943

In London:
Helen Brockett
The Vodafone Group Foundation
M: +44 (0) 7500 032886

Darren Milner
Four Communications
T. +44 (0)870 444 4568
M. +44 (0)7906 386676

In Rome:
Caroline Hurford
World Food Programme
T: +39 06 6513 2330
M: +39 348 132 5018

In Washington:
Katherine Miller
UN Foundation
T: (+1) 202 887 9040