UNESCO, together with UNISDR and UNIC, highlighted the role of the media in disaster risk reduction under this year’s theme - Living with Disability and Disasters. The event was organized in Meru, Kenya, and counted with more than 70 participants from across Kenya, including representatives from national and local governments, public and community media broadcasters, and civil society organizations working with people with disabilities.
The workshop aimed at increasing the capacity of community media practitioners in raising awareness on resilience planning. UNISDR and the National Disaster Management Centre highlighted the importance of the framework of action of the National Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and its coordination mechanism pertaining to disasters that facilitate collaboration among national and local government institutions.
The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation provided insights on governance structures and guidelines pertaining to rapid reporting mechanisms and the ethical role of the media during emergency situations. Mr. Henry Makokha, a KBC radio programmes manager, highlighted that “more pronounced partnerships between the public broadcaster with the County Governments are needed in repositioning their regional radio programming resources, as well as a deeper working relationships with community radio stations for authoritative grassroots interventions in disaster related matters". BBC Media Action also stressed the importance of establishing an alliance between government, aid responders and the media in providing lifeline communication platform. Robert Powell, a senior advisor on resilience and humanitarian response emphasized that “local radio stations have an important role to play not only in giving disaster-affected communities a voice to make themselves heard, but also in brining timely, accurate and useful information to people affected by emergencies”.
Community radio stations pre-produced radio programmes for the event, which had portrayed the views of local authorities, elders, women and youth on disaster awareness. Their programmes on Disaster Risk Reduction were presented and aired during the IDDR celebration. Sophie Sangalia, a radio presenter from Mwanedu FM, reflected on their experience producing local radio content and the participation in the IDDR event as “not only having created more interest and professional understanding pertaining to issues related to natural hazards and human caused disasters, but also on the importance of the role of the media in communicating with the communities to inform, warn and help during disasters in view of the vulnerable persons”.
The training also sensitized participants to learn more about People with Disabilities and their plight during disasters. The organizations CBM and Sparks, emphasized the importance of promoting an inclusive society, in creating a dialogue in having significant representation in the planning processes to reduce disaster risks, prevent disasters or build resilient societies and communities through practical demonstrations. Mary Casiraghi, from Community Media Support, said that “information on disaster preparedness and reaction has to be in the language of the disabled and we all need to be responsible in making a safer society”. “The lack of inclusion and participation in DRR processes means that the needs and possible contributions of persons living with disabilities are often overlooked by planners.”
UNESCO has been supporting community radio practitioners across Kenya thought the SIDA-funded project entitled “Empowering Local Radios with ICTs” to improve the quality of radio programming, acting as a debate platforms on local development issues. The media also have an important role to play in creating awareness and disseminating information about disasters and natural hazards. By building the capacity of community radio practitioners with knowledge and skills on the role of the media pertaining to disaster risk, media practitioners can make a real difference in the way people think and act, especially at the moment when climate change is recognized as a major challenge that can aggravate vulnerability to disasters.
Video produced and presented by UNISDR at the event: