The COVID-19-related restrictions on the movement of humanitarians have required ETS staff to work from home to curb the spread of the virus in north-east Nigeria. During the reporting period, most ETS staff worked remotely, while one staff occasionally worked in the office at the Red Roof humanitarian hub in Maiduguri. To support remote working arrangements, as well as the immediate health response to the corona virus and the ongoing humanitarian response, Internet connectivity and security communications were essential for humanitarian partners to continue delivering services amid COVID-19.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the ETS team continues to provide vital communications services – Internet connectivity in eight humanitarian hubs and security communications in ten operational areas – to the humanitarian community across north-east Nigeria. Since January 2020, the ETS has provided Internet connectivity services to more than 3,702 users from 107 organizations (15 United Nations agencies and 92 non-governmental organizations).
During the reporting period, the ETS programmed 68 radios to enable humanitarians to improve communication between staff and to ensure their safety and security in the region. The ETS helpdesk received and resolved 207 ICT-related issues reported by its users through email and phone. The team also conducted capacity building activities by delivering four webinar sessions on security communications and ETS IT Policy user awareness for 29 humanitarians from various organizations in Maiduguri and across field locations.
In August, Marlink field engineers, in coordination with ETS, completed the Internet Service Provider (ISP) migration exercise in Maiduguri. The team also received migration equipment to conduct the same activity across Borno State, namely in Bama, Banki, Ngala, Damasak, Monguno and Gwoza.
The ETS has had to postpone its activities, including field missions and physical training sessions, due to COVID-19-related restrictions. The pandemic has also delayed staff recruitment and deployment to the field. The restrictions on field travel will indirectly impact the set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of this year’s ETS activities. The activities affected include the installation of the hybrid solar-based power system, technical capacity building activities and routine maintenance.
One of the delayed projects, the installation of the much-anticipated hybrid solar-based power system, aims to provide a more sustainable power supply for humanitarians who currently rely on fossil fuel generators to access ETS services. The team will commence the installation of the hybrid solar-based power system in its operational areas in October as soon as the COVID-19 travel restrictions have been eased and engineers can be deployed to the deep filed locations.