The Patterson Foundation Commits Gift to NetHope’s Vanuatu Disaster Response Effort

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The gift enabled NetHope to send a team to Vanuatu to begin coordinating communications infrastructure recovery efforts

The Patterson Foundation contributed a $50,000 gift to its international partner NetHope to support the Vanuatu disaster response effort. The Patterson Foundation is one of the first supporters to answer NetHope’s appeal for funding. The catalyst gift allowed NetHope to send two people to Vanuatu to begin assessing needs and coordinating recovery efforts.

Cyclone Pam hit the South Pacific island nation on March 13. The Category 5 storm destroyed approximately 90 percent of houses on the main island of Port Vila and left over 100,000 people homeless. The cyclone knocked out the telecommunications and power infrastructure on some islands. As a result, many locations have not been heard from since the storm hit, making it impossible to determine the number of casualties and accurately assess damage. The re-establishment of telecommunications is a priority along with shelter, water and food.

“A disaster of this magnitude demands an immediate response from the international community, with a specific focus on restoring communications and providing the essential resources these groups need to respond effectively,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “Time and again NetHope has expertly leveraged resources to help with critical communications needs on the ground.”

NetHope partners with global leaders in technology and philanthropy – including Microsoft, Cisco and Intel – to collect donations of money and communications equipment. These resources are used to build the communications infrastructure employed by its network of 43 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as they work to support the developing world, especially during emergency-response situations. NetHope’s information and communication technology (ICT) services will be crucial for restoring communications and supporting relief efforts in Vanuatu.

NetHope is anticipating a two-month response effort. The first step is an initial deployment of a field team to assess the ICT situation and to provide ICT services. The goal is to provide connectivity using a variety of portable satellite communication devices, including satellite phones, BGAN satellite internet terminals and VSAT terminals.

“The already disastrous situation in Vanuatu is complicated by the destruction of the telecommunications infrastructure and the remote location,” said Gisli Olafsson, the emergency response director for NetHope. “It is difficult getting people and resources to the area. Our main goal is to facilitate communications among the NGOs and the national government.”

The Patterson Foundation supported NetHope most recently during its communications infrastructure response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The foundation has also contributed to the Typhoon Haiyan response in the Philippines and the creation of the Open Humanitarian Initiative since their partnership began in 2011. The Patterson Foundation’s catalyst gift to NetHope is designed to help encourage contributions from other supporters.

About The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation works with partners to accelerate positive change by sharing fresh perspectives on strategy, contributing new ideas and providing resources. We believe the act of creative collaboration produces results and knowledge that can be applied more broadly to transcend any single act of philanthropy. For more information, please visit


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