Notes to broadcasters on natural disasters

    | September 10, 2012

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    Natural disasters such as the serious flood described in this week’s story from Cameroon can create a feeling of helplessness – for those directly affected, for broadcasters covering the situation, and for those who listen to reports. Yet, when a natural disaster occurs, radio can play an important role in the relief effort and recovery process. (For more on this, see this week’s Resource.) Radio can also play an important role in helping people prepare for disaster situations such as drought and flood. (For more on this, see the Script of the Week.)

    If you broadcast to a region which is prone to natural disasters, you might want to consider what role your station can play. When local people are informed that a natural disaster is coming, they can take action to protect their families. Radio can be an invaluable tool, sharing information that helps people prepare for a disaster and notifying people if a disaster is imminent. Here are some ideas to increase your effectiveness in broadcasting information on disaster preparedness:

    -Tell your audience about the importance of food security and farmers, especially in times of natural disaster. Promote the crucial role of farmers in coping with disaster, and give them the respect they deserve.
    -Develop programs that shift people’s preferences away from imported food, especially during times of disaster, or during seasons when disasters often strike. Use programs to promote and stimulate demand for locally-grown food.
    -Establish rural phone “hot lines” before and during disasters. Use the hot lines as part of live call-in/text-in programs.
    -Ask popular artists and singers to lend their names to radio campaigns about disaster preparedness and mitigation. Invite the artists to appear and be interviewed on your programs.
    -Highlight the cost of disasters to farmers and agricultural production as well as to the country as a whole. Invite representatives from government (for example, the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries) and from NGOs to participate in informing the public.

    Additional information and scripts on disaster preparation, mitigation, and management can be found in Farm Radio International Package 64: (Scroll down to scripts from Package 64.)