Saturday, 7 May 2011

Disasters: Humanitarian Communication

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Subject: The Drum Beat 585 - May 9 2011

The Drum Beat - Issue 585 - Disasters: Humanitarian Communication
May 9 2011


This issue includes:
* VOICES from Haiti.
* NEW REPORT: Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR).
* INFORMATION strategies in disasters worldwide.
* ADVERTISE your publications through The CI!
* Strengthening COLLABORATION in challenging contexts.
* Involving MEDIA.
* CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: 'Glocalising' journalism education.
* Involving YOUTH.
* MORE disaster-related resources.


From The Communication Initiative Network - where communication and media are central to social and economic development.

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The devastating March 11 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and aftershocks that rocked Japan have alarmed and activated the international community. Below please find some items available on The Communication Initiative website that address the use of communication for disaster relief and humanitarian aid.



1.      Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC)
CDAC is a cross-cluster service working to enable humanitarian operations to get information to those populations affected by Haiti's January 12 2010 earthquake and its aftermath and to channel their voices back to the providers of assistance working with local media and non-mass-media communications. CDAC uses various information and communication methods in an effort to act as a source of expertise and advice, a community of practice, and an advocacy platform that aims at ensuring that the humanitarian sector mainstreams CDAC and that local media play a role in maximising aid effectiveness, accountability, and transparency.

2.      When Communicating Really Matters: The Experience of CDAC in Haiti
by Jacobo Quintanilla
Written just over a year after the earthquake in Haiti, this article examines the strategies being used by the CDAC (described in #1, above). From the author's perspective, while strong work has been done, challenges remain - most of which focus on the importance of genuine participation of affected communities.

3.      Global Media in Disasters and Media Disasters: Alleged Looters in Haiti
by Jude Fernando
This June 2010 document from the Communication for Social Change Consortium discusses the damage done by media's repetition of images of looting during the immediate aftermath of the Haiti disaster. Though the author acknowledges the value of international disaster relief, he finds that local strategies and organisations which were working before, during, and after international relief organisations come and go continue to be underfunded and receive little or no media attention.

4.      Crowdsourcing Crisis Information in Disaster-Affected Haiti
by Jessica Heinzelman and Carol Waters
This October 2010 report discusses the function of crowdsourcing in the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake. Ushahidi, an open-source crisis-mapping software, provided a way to capture, organise, and share critical information coming directly from Haitians. Information was gathered through social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, and Facebook) and text messages sent via mobile phones and placed on maps available online. According to this report, the project provides "a foundational model for the international community to leverage and improve upon in advance of future emergencies."

5.      Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (News You Can Use)
Nine days after the January 12 2010 earthquake in Haiti, local radio stations began airing Creole-language humanitarian information broadcasts produced by Internews in collaboration with a growing alliance of humanitarian aid and media assistance providers. Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (News You Can Use) is produced daily and distributed to local radio stations.


Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR)

In July 2010, the Department for International Development (DFID) commissioned a taskforce of experts to review the way the United Kingdom (UK) responds to humanitarian emergencies. The Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR) examined innovation and opportunities presented by new technologies and new partnerships.

The report recommends that DFID do more to help people become better prepared to cope with the impact of future disasters and emergencies by putting resilience and preparedness at the heart of what it does and integrating this with its mainstream development work.

The results of this independent review were presented at a launch event on March 28 2011. To read the review in PDF format, see:



6.      Left in the Dark: The Unmet Need for Information in Humanitarian Responses
by Imogen Wall and Lisa Robinson
This October 2008 policy briefing explores the value of providing information and communication to disaster-affected populations by drawing on the example of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster - where, as stated here, the greatest dissatisfaction of the victims was over the poor information flow. "The humanitarian system as it stands is not equipped with either the capacity or the resources to begin tackling the challenge of providing information to those affected by crises. There is very little dedicated public communications capacity within major humanitarian organisations."

7.      infoasaid - Global
infoasaid seeks to improve how aid agencies communicate with disaster-affected communities. The emphasis is on the need to deliver not just material supplies in times of crisis but, rather, information - defined here as aid itself. Amongst its actions: infoasaid is producing a library of generic key messages (with some tailoring for local context) to be conveyed to the affected populations during an emergency.

8.      Bravos do Zambeze - Mozambique
Launched in November 2009, this media project is designed to communicate information about disaster risk reduction in Mozambique. The project includes a 26-part radio drama with an accompanying presenters' guide and a media training workshop. By using an edutainment approach to convey information and messages, Bravos do Zamebeze seeks to increase awareness about how to respond and what to do to prepare for disasters.

9.      ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction
From May 2010, this set of case studies explores the ways in which information and communication technology (ICT) has positively impacted the various phases of disaster management. The document highlights the different digital technologies and their use to reduce disaster risks. The need for journalism and media development is also recognised.


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10.     Collaboration between Faith-based Communities and Humanitarian Actors when Responding to HIV in Emergencies
by Fiona Samuels, Rena Geibel, and Fiona Perry
This Overseas Development Institute (ODI) Project Briefing explores the "unexploited capacity" that faith-based communities (FBCs) have in delivering HIV prevention, treatment, and care. It states that misconceptions may have been hampering humanitarian organisations from engaging with FBCs due to, for example, the worry that FBCs are unable to provide HIV prevention services without a religious agenda. This briefing presents key findings and recommendations for the faith community and humanitarian actors.

11.     States of Fragility: Stabilisation and Its Implications for Humanitarian Action
by Sarah Collinson, Samir Elhawary, and Robert Muggah
One section of this May 2010 Working Paper argues that weaknesses in the evidence-base for many stabilisation strategies in so-called fragile contexts are compounded by weaknesses in human resourcing and communication. In Helmand Province in Afghanistan, for example, the United Kingdom has sought to stimulate political engagement between local residents and their provincial leaders. "The level and nature of the political and strategic ambition among key international and national actors will prove crucial in all respects, including for humanitarian actors and humanitarian space."


12.     World Press Freedom Day Podcast
This podcast from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) series on education in emergencies commemorates World Press Freedom Day (May 3) 2010. One point to emerge: Media coverage and stories from conflict zones can shape the international response to humanitarian emergencies and, ultimately, impact the lives of children and protect their fundamental rights.

13.     Strengthening Disaster Prevention and Resilience: Developing Media and NGO Capacity to Increase Awareness among Communities in the Indian States of West Bengal and Orissa
In December 2007, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service Trust (WST) launched a 15-month pilot project to build the capacity of India's media, government, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to communicate effectively and regularly about disaster risk reduction issues. Drawing on face-to-face capacity building sessions, the initiative is shaped by the observation that radio, print, and television journalists have a crucial role to play in raising awareness amongst the public about risk management.

14.     In a Disaster, Local Media Need Support
by Edward Girardet
According to this November 2005 article, while the importance of good information and media during humanitarian emergencies is increasingly being recognised, this has not translated into much-needed financial support. The author suggests that material relief, such as food and medicine, takes precedence over information, even if it helps survivors make informed decisions about their own well-being. He notes that local journalists can be quickly trained in "humanitarian" awareness, enabling them to know how aid operations work and what sort of information survivors need.


CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: 'Glocalising' Approaches to Journalism Education and Training

The journal Asia Pacific Media Educator (APME) is extending a Call for Papers for inclusion in its December 2011 issue on the theme of 'Glocalising' Approaches to Journalism Education and Training. 'Glocalising' here refers to the observation that online access to media news sites and news events as they are breaking anytime anywhere is reshaping journalism's locality - once limited by geography and time but now connecting disparate worlds of thoughts and communities by imageries and stories written by (professional and amateur) journalists from anywhere anytime and uploaded to websites for global readership.

Key questions of interest for this thematic issue include: Are curriculum contents, research directions, and discourse in journalism education and training in Asia keeping pace with the 'glocalising' of the news environment? How are journalism educators preparing their students for a 'glocalised' media market?

APME is inviting submissions of 300- to 350-word abstracts for consideration of a full paper (commentaries = 3,000 to 3,500 words; research papers = not exceeding 6,000 words inclusive of references and endnotes; Q&A with journalists and book authors = not exceeding 3,000 words) for peer review.

For more information on the specific topics - and/or to submit an abstract - please contact APME's Editor, Eric Loo

Deadline: May 30 2011.



15.     Children and Youth at the Centre - El Salvador
Plan International has mobilised children and youth in El Salvador to work with their communities in developing risk maps, designing community emergency plans, setting up early warning systems, and implementing response, mitigation, and risk reduction plans, among other activities. Training on risk reduction and mitigation has been carried out through tools such as: participatory vulnerability assessment, risk vulnerability and capacity mapping, preparation of community plans, and coordination and mobilisation of groups with municipal governments, schools, and civil society organisations. Support has also been provided for micro-projects designed and implemented by youth groups seeking to raise awareness about risk reduction, and to strengthen inter-institutional networks to ensure children's voice in other disaster prevention projects.

16.     Disaster Prevention and Emergency Response with Native and Mestizo Communities in the Amazonas Region of Peru
Soluciones Practicas - ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group) embarked on a project to enhance the capacity of Peru's native and Mestizo (of mixed race) communities to respond to disasters and reduce vulnerability to natural hazards. Activity coordination between schools and communities led to a focus on the centrality of youth participation. Students formed learning circles for risk management, which became part of the project's group of communicators, helping to raise awareness and promote disaster risk reduction activities in the communities. Educational materials (stories, posters, puzzles) in the native Awajun and Kechua languages were also produced.

17.     Disaster Preparedness Action Plan Tajikistan
This project aims to ensure long-term sustainability of disaster risk reduction activities by securing the commitment, involvement, and resourcefulness of local communities. Sixty-four village committees - in the form of community-based organisations (CBOs) - were initially formed; one of the activities has been dissemination of information by Youth Rescue Groups (volunteer groups). Public awareness on disaster preparedness was raised through school competitions, as well as training, evacuation drills, and information, education, and communication (IEC) material.


See also:

The Drum Beat 427 - Emergency Communication

The Drum Beat 283 - Tsunami Communication Responses

The Drum Beat 274 - Responding to Emergencies and Disasters


This issue of The Drum Beat was written by Kier Olsen DeVries.


The Drum Beat is the email and web network of The Communication Initiative Partnership - ANDI, BBC World Service Trust, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Calandria, CFSC Consortium, CIDA, DFID, FAO, Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano, Ford Foundation, Healthlink Worldwide, Inter-American Development Bank, International Institute for Communication and Development, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, MISA, PAHO, The Panos Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, SAfAIDS, Sesame Workshop, Soul City, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, WHO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Chair of the Partners Group: Garth Japhet, Founder, Soul City
Executive Director: Warren Feek


The Editor of The Drum Beat is Kier Olsen DeVries.

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