Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Partnering in Haiti

The adage “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is fundamental to an organization responding in Haiti, no matter how narrow the mission. There are 21 NetHope member NGOs responding in Haiti, with over 3,500 workers on the ground. Each is doing what it does best, whether search-and-rescue, providing clean water, or distributing mosquito nets. NetHope adds shared communications to coordinate their work. Corporate partners, in-turn, add expertise, equipment and rapid funds to move it forward.

Here are some highlights from Friday’s status reports of people on-the ground:

  • Inveneo [a corporate partner] installed three Member offices today.
  • The network is presently operating at: CHF (2 sites), Save the Children (2 sites), Catholic Relief Services, CARE, Concern, [and soon at] Oxfam, with broadband connections to the Internet fully restored.
  • ITC Global [another corporate partner] bumped the satellite capacity up to 2.5 megabits
  • Kah conducted a VSAT site survey at CHF2 and STC today. There is a 2.4 meter VSAT already installed at STC. It is not operational but ITC Global is planning to commission it. This will permit the system we were going to install at CHF2 to go somewhere else or be available as a back up.
  • An additional 2 meg capacity is committed for the NetHope relief network courtesy of Multilink [another corporate partner], who were told good things about the work we are doing by our friends at Cisco TACOPS [a long-term NetHope corporate partner]. We will work with Multilink, Cisco and Inveneo to plan for adding this to existing capacity.

Notice the connections among the responders and corporate partners. Couple this with the rapid contributions from Microsoft and Blackbaud and you can see the power of people connections at work in technology connections. One of our funders put it succinctly: “we know you, we trust you; we partner with people who know how to respond.” That’s an added value of relationships, based on trust and a history of working together.

One of the lessons we learned from the 2004 Tsunami response in Southeast Asia is the need to make decisions quickly, and in ways that are different from the typical ways of decision-making. That’s true for those doing relief work as well as those supporting this work. Following the Tsunami response, an NGO marketing director recalled, “We didn’t have time to have all the meetings, all the reviews, and all the approvals. We had to make on-the-spot-decisions. The interesting thing”, she continued, “is that nothing fell apart.” Extraordinary times require extraordinary approaches.

One of the founding principles of NetHope is “benefiting all benefits one.” Doing things together, like setting up VSAT communications in Haiti, helps each member do its work. That means that some members often do more, but that’s part of the commitment to doing things together to benefit all. The work in Haiti demands no less.


  1. Dear Ed, your link to Multilink is wrong "An additional 2 meg capacity is committed for the NetHope relief network courtesy of Multilink"/wrong link here.

    It should be

    Best regards,

    Multilink Haiti

  2. Thanks for the heads-up. I posted the correction. --Ed