How to better communicate disaster risk reduction

 
By Berta Acero

CAIRO, 18 October 2011 - Some of the biggest media houses in the world from the Times of India to the Philippines Daily Inquirer to Caracol Television in Colombia have now participated in media training on disaster risk reduction organized by UNISDR, the United Nations office for disaster reduction, with the support of ECHO, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid branch.

The 6th such media training workshop was completed in Tunisia last week and this time the target audience was 40 disaster risk management experts from Algeria, Comoros, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia with the goal of making them more media-savvy and providing them with tips for engaging with their own national media.

In his opening remarks, the Tunisian Secretary of State for the Environment, Salem Hamdi, said he hoped , “this workshop can come up with ideas to establish adequate communication systems to help the State authorities and other partners in their interaction with the media which is an essential partner in the promotion of disaster risk reduction among decision-makers and the public at large.”

The workshop included lively informal sessions, group debates and practical exercises to help the disaster experts to understand how media works. Secondly, they learned how to better promote their national policies, programmes and activities, including through establishment of a network, better press releases and media advisories and other practical ways of communicating the complexities of DRR.

Lars Bernd of the UNISDR Regional Office for Arab States pointed out: “Disaster risk reduction is still a relatively new topic for many in the Arab world. That is why it is even more important to find the right entries to build the awareness of the public in general and decision-makers in particular. The media is a critical vector in this endeavor. Participating DRR focal points are now much better equipped to team up with journalists to promote prevention rather than just post-disaster relief”.

Journalists from across the Middle East were involved in earlier trainings including two days in Beirut, Lebanon, in July for 30 journalists from broadcast and print media. Journalists from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria attending media training in Geneva prior to this year’s Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and stayed on to cover the event.

This latest two-day workshop was co-organised by UNISDR’s Arab States office and the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, with support from the country office of UNDP and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, and funding from the European Commission.

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Interview and report of the media training from a local tv station (in Arabic)

The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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