Strengthening the capacity of individuals and broadcasters in delivering early warning of pending natural disasters in a timely, accurate and understandable manner was the subject of UNESCO workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.
The event brought together broadcasters and national disaster management authorities, on 18 and 19 June 2013, with support from UNESCO’s Tehran Office.
Seventeen participants from Afghanistan, India, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives and Pakistan attended the workshop, which was organized in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Dr Kazuyoshi Shogen, Director of Corporate Planning Division of Japan's Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT), was one of the resource persons at the workshop.
During the two-day event, participants tried to identify the missing or weak links in the chain of information concerning emergency warnings and communications before, during and after disasters. They learned about the End-to-End Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for disaster warnings, developed by international agencies since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
A lively discussion about the role of broadcasters in disaster risk reduction took place at the workshop. Participants identified the need for broadcasters to develop their internal SOP in form of Emergency Broadcast Plan, which should be linked to the SOP of the Emergency Warning Centres and Disaster Management Authorities. They also discussed educating audiences on how to react to government alerts for disasters. The need to promote and disseminate information on good practices for community awareness was also addressed.
The initiative to organize this workshop was welcomed by participants. Sayed Qazi, from the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, stressed the importance of broadcasters in building awareness during emergencies. Furthermore, the workshop also paid attention to the importance of gender equity in tackling information dissemination in time of natural disasters.