Satellite Solution Helps Monitor Displaced Populations in North-Central Africa
Friday, July 05, 2019 | Comments

SatADSL, in support of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), equipped its sub office in Baga Sola in Chad’s Lake Region with a T11N satellite to monitor the displacement and the movement of people fleeing violence and conflict and to help facilitate and regulate migration and address forced migration. SatADSL connected the very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology in the hard-to-reach and dangerous region, which needed a cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution.

The latest United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) figures from April estimated that Chad is host to almost half a million refugees. Civilians from neighboring countries including Sudan, Central African Republic and Nigeria have spilled into Chad, fleeing their homes because of unprecedented levels of violence.

The internal displacement of a further 133,338 people, particularly in the Lake Chad basin region, has put more pressure on a crisis characterized by food shortages and epidemic outbreaks. This has prompted serious concerns over humanitarian aid and the protection of civilians. The situation has been exacerbated by inconsistent rainfall causing poor harvest yields.

The sites in which the hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians have sought refuge are rife with problems including acute malnutrition, water shortages and the spread of disease. They also face security issues and forced recruitment drives of child soldiers to become armed militias. Additionally, the limited access to education leaves the disproportionately child-aged population of the camps without schooling.

By monitoring the displaced civilians, it is possible to identify the reasons, profile, needs, risks and destinations of refugees and migrants moving through Chad and to neighboring countries. The information could help prevent child soldier recruitment and trafficking on a local level, and prevent the displacement of civilians in the first place.

However, pre-existing infrastructure and funding are often lacking. Internet access is limited, if available at all. The versatility of satellite technology and VSAT systems specifically make them ideal for the refugee camp environment.

By using VSAT system, IOM has been able to operate its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) in the Lake Region of Chad, tracking and monitoring the displacement and population mobility. DTM, which has tracked 28 million displaced people worldwide, is designed to regularly and systematically capture, process and disseminate information to provide a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of displaced populations, whether on site or en route.

The satellite is T11N iDirect technology, 2048/512 1:4 contention Ku band and dish 120 cm and BUC 3W.

The technology helps monitor the refugee camp populations without a major investment in physical infrastructure. Furthermore, because of the lack of existing connectivity infrastructure in the camp, the VSAT solution could be installed without the need for complex networks to be in place.

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