Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Broadcasters Without Borders

So where is the broadcast equivalent of Doctors Without Borders? Well, we're in the process of reworking this not-for-profit wiki into part of the answer, especially since there is clearly a need for information within LOCAL communities immediately after a major disaster. Lack of information kan kill, especially when rumours spread through communities and encourage people to take unnecessary risks.

We have been inspired to do this work following response from broadcasters, manufacturers and NGO's and the fact that this site continues to draw traffic. There have also been recent articles in the press calling for more coordination between broadcasters following the earthquake in Yogyakarta and recent floods in Surinam.

Media tend to focus on the short-term impact of natural disasters. Take one of the latest cases– the Yogyakarta earthquake on May 27th 2006, following closely behind devastating floods in Surinam just a few weeks before. The headlines that screamed out of Java on Friday 27th were of more than 3000 people dead. Much further down the story was the estimate by the Indonesian Red Cross that around 200,000 people had been made homeless or otherwise displaced. In the first week, it was impossible to tell how many of the 200,000 people were also injured, traumatized, displaced or otherwise affected by the disaster. Very many more than the 200,000 were bereaved or knew someone who was.

Eighteen months on from the December 26th Earthquake and Tsunami of 2004 and the subsequent earthquake on Monday March 28th 2005 it is clear many lessons have been learned. But a group of us have been concerned that broadcasters have not been able to play their full role in the immediate aftermath of the 2006, floods in Suriname (also in May 2006) or Hurricane Katrina.

Initially, many of us were afraid that broadcast colleagues would not coordinate efforts, leading to aid going to the wrong areas. In fact, organizations like the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union did a great job coordinating donations – as well as checking what was really needed in the affected countries. However, nearly two years on, there are strong lessons that need to be carried forward to prepare for the aftermath of the next one.

Thanks for your continued interest

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