Life-saving, well-coordinated communication is critical to humanitarian response efforts in the aftermath of major disasters, finds a new report from the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network about humanitarian communication in post-quake Haiti.
The review was commissioned to better understand the successes and shortcomings of the CDAC Network’s humanitarian deployment, CDAC Haiti, which was established to coordinate communication efforts among a range of partners and to encourage joint communication initiatives.
"As this study demonstrates, coordinated efforts to provide information to and communication with local communities in emergencies are vital, life-saving interventions,” said Jacobo Quintanilla, Director of Humanitarian Information Programs at Internews and first Coordinator of CDAC Haiti.
The international humanitarian community should consider the coordination of communication with disaster affected communities as a crucial and standard component of emergency responses, the review recommends.
The report underlines the vital role played by CDAC Haiti in coordinating efficient and coherent communication between international aid providers, the Haitian government, local media actors, and disaster affected populations.
It also demonstrated the value of listening to affected communities and working with local media. Rachel Houghton, the CDAC Network’s Global Coordinator says: “It is very powerful when diverse stakeholders work together toward a shared goal, and evidence suggests that CDAC Haiti facilitated an effective cross-sector collaboration toward enabling humanitarian operations to get life-saving information to affected populations and to channel the affected population’s voices back to aid actors.”
The broad membership base of CDAC Haiti has been praised, in particular the role of Internews, an international media development organisation, host agency of CDAC Haiti. Internews ensured CDAC Haiti played an important role in the media sector, delivering audience research and analysis which played an important part in the broader CDAC Haiti initiative.
However, the review also highlights problems, including a lack of funding and initial strategic guidance. Likewise, the shortage of formal status for CDAC Haiti, despite its advantages, undermined accountability and predictability.
While CDAC Haiti delivered on a wide range of fronts, the Haiti experience shows how much is still needed to standardise communication with local communities in humanitarian and resilience programs. “This review should challenge us all to strengthen our efforts to find new ways in which innovative partnerships, approaches and technologies can better build the capacity of local communities to know how to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. In many instances, they are teaching us how” says Leigh Daynes, Chair of the CDAC Network and Communications Director at children’s charity Plan UK.
About the CDAC Network The CDAC Network is a unique, cross-sector collaboration that brings together humanitarian and media development organisations, humanitarian quality and accountability initiatives and, increasingly, technology and telecoms providers who are committed to institutionalising effective, two-way communication with crisis affected populations. The current Full Members of the Network are: ALNAP, BBC Media Action, HAP International, the ICRC, the IFRC, IOM, infoasaid, International Media Support, Internews, Merlin, OCHA, Plan UK, Save the Children, Thomson Reuters Foundation, UNFPA, World Vision International. Frontline SMS is an Associate Member.
About Plan UK Plan is a global children’s charity that works with children in the world’s poorest countries to help them build a better future. For 75 years Plans UK has been taking action and standing up for every child’s right to fulfill their potential by: giving children a healthy start in life, including access to safe drinking water; securing the education of girls and boys; working with communities to prepare for and survive disasters; inspiring children to take a lead in decisions that affect their lives; and enabling families to earn a living and plan for their children’s future. Plan UK is a member of The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 14 leading humanitarian aid agencies, and is a founding member of the CDAC Network. To make a donation or for more information on sponsoring a child with Plan call 0300 777 9777 or visit www.plan-uk.org
About Internews Internews is an international non-profit media development organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect, and the means to make their voices heard. The objective of Internews' Humanitarian Information Project is to save lives and reduce suffering of disaster-affected communities. Working in partnership with local media and aid providers, Internews aims to fulfill people’s right to access information, ask questions, and participate in their own recovery. Keep track of Internews' Humanitarian Information Projects online, and follow the latest humanitarian communication developments on Twitter @internews @internewseurope and @jpq.