Background to the Instant Network programme

The Vodafone Foundation believes that providing communications in the immediate aftermath of a disaster is key, both to support those affected and to assist in the co-ordination of rescue and relief efforts.

Through the Instant Network Programme, the Vodafone Foundation deploys Vodafone employee volunteers and technology in emergencies to provide free communications and technical support to aid agencies and victims.

The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network team is also committed to developing new technologies to best support the humanitarian community.

Instant Network Volunteers

The Vodafone Volunteer Scheme gives employees the opportunity to train as emergency response volunteers.

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Emergency aid

The Vodafone Foundation’s award-winning Instant Network Programme, which has provided over 3 million emergency calls to aid agencies, disaster victims and refugees so far, was expanded in April 2013 to support education in refugee camps using mobile technology.



Emergency calls to aid agencies

Volunteers and deployments

Length of deployment: 10 days
Calls made: 1,487

Four Vodafone Foundation Instant Network volunteers from Vodafone New Zealand and the Vodafone Foundation deployed to the Republic of Vanuatu, to help restore communications to areas devastated by Cyclone Pam.

Cyclone Pam was a category 5 tropical storm that crippled the islands’ infrastructure and telecommunications.

The team travelled to Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital on Wednesday 18 March at the request of local operator Telecoms Vanuatu Limited (TVL), supporting the UN Mission and Telecoms sans Frontieres.

In a 10-day deployment the team focused on connecting Tanna Island, the second largest island with a population 29,000 to support the relief effort, people and businesses. 1,487 calls were made totalling 4,156 minutes, supporting an estimated 7,250 people and 25% of the island’s households. Thirteen agencies including World Vision, Unicef, Red Cross also used our connection sharing data ranging from aid distribution spreadsheets to co-ordinates for remote aid drops by helicopters. The island's bank also used our network to process 2 million Vatu in transactions and order 8 million Vatu in cash to replenish their ATM.

The equipment was deployed to support connectivity for aid agencies and will remain on loan with TVL until 30 April 2015 when the emergency phase of the disaster was over.

Length of deployment: 29 days
Calls made: 443,288
SMS sent: 1.4 million

On 9 November, less than 24 hours after Typhoon Haiyan struck a team of 6 Vodafone Foundation Instant Network volunteers deployed to the Philippines from the UK, Hungary & New Zealand.

The Vodafone Foundation deployed two Instant Networks at the request of Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) to support rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the deadliest storms to hit the Philippines.

The Instant Networks were deployed by Smart, with the assistance of the Vodafone Foundation team.  From the main coordination base in Manila, one team was deployed to Palo, a region 15km south of Tacloban, one of the worst affected parts of the Philippines and the second to Borongan at the request of the President of the Philippines.

The second Instant Network was later moved to Guian which had been without aid or network for over a week.  On arrival in Guian Oisin Walton, Vodafone Foundation Instant Network manager commented: 'People were standing around with their phones in hand as we drive into town.  It was as if word had spread that we were coming to set up a network. 

There is a lot of focus on the provision of traditional aid in the aftermath of a disaster, so food, water and shelter, which are of course crucial but you cannot underestimate the impact that communications has.  We set up a free calling point with Smart near the town hall so those without phones could give news as well. It's a joy every time to see people on phones, smiling, passing on the phone to family and friends.'

During the 29 day deployment Instant Network enabled 1.4 million text messages and 443,288 calls.

Length of deployment: 17 days
Calls made: 296,926
SMS sent: 578,994

When Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines in December networks went down and some mobile towers were totally destroyed. 

On 8 December Clifford Robertson and Jason Rogers two Vodafone New Zealand employees who trained as volunteers in October, arrived in the Philippines to assist in the deployment of Vodafone Instant Network, in partnership with Telecoms Sans Frontieres and local operator Smart Communications Inc. (Smart).  Clifford and Jason, pictured left, are the first volunteers to deploy to the field as part of the Vodafone Foundation Volunteer programme.

"On the drive to Baganga we encountered total devastation – the scale of the destruction is difficult to comprehend."

Clifford Robertson, Vodafone New Zealand volunteer

"On the drive to Baganga we encountered total devastation – the scale of the destruction is difficult to comprehend," Clifford says. "Most of the local houses are destroyed and only a few concrete structures remain and even some of those are severely damaged. The Filipino spirit is impressive. Even the people who have seemingly lost so much still manage to smile. Communications are critical to the coordination of government and NGO relief efforts and we've collaborated with the local mobile operator Smart to reconnect the community of Baganga to the rest of the country. Within seconds of the Instant Network coming online, the compound where the NGOs and government agencies are located lit up with phone calls and text messages. It never felt so good to be a telecommunications engineer."

The deployment lasted 17 days with the maximum number of calls and SMS were being sent over the network at all times. In total 296,926 calls and 578,994 SMS went over Instant Network, the highest in number in any deployment to date.


Length of deployment: 47 days

Calls made: 264,104

In February 2012, Kenya Red Cross requested assistance from the Vodafone Foundation in response to the severe drought affecting East Africa. 

A team from Safaricom, Vodafone Foundation, TSF, Huawei and the Kenya Red Cross deployed Vodafone Instant Network to Kaikor, Northern Kenya to assist relief efforts and the delivery of food to this isolated community. For more on the deployment please see the video below.

The deployment in Kaikor lasted 47 days, during which time 264,104 calls were made over Vodafone Instant Network, including almost 12,000 free minutes used by aid agencies and humanitarian calling centres. 

On 8 April 2012 Safaricom installed a permanent BTS in the area to provide network and Vodafone Instant Network was donated to Kenya Red Cross for future emergency situations.