Communication in emergencies
RESEARCH AND REFLECTIONS
Media content created for people affected by humanitarian emergencies can help to alleviate suffering and help people make informed decisions to support their recovery.
In this site, BBC Media Action underlines the value of this kind of media content by presenting evidence, case studies, media clips and commentary relating to recent humanitarian emergencies. This draws on BBC Media Action’s own research and experience on the role of media and communication in emergency contexts.
BBC Media Action’s research into humanitarian emergencies in Lebanon and Jordan, Gaza, West Africa, Nepal, Somalia and Bangladesh concludes that appropriate media content can help people cope in the most difficult circumstances. It does this by enhancing people’s knowledge, providing psychosocial support, connecting people, prompting discussion, and motivating people to take positive actions.
The research findings also show that not only do people expect humanitarian communication to provide local and relevant information, but they also expect it to be engaging, to give them a voice, to hold humanitarian responders to account and to be easy to access, and to provide local and relevant information.
BBC Media Action wants to establish a more collaborative and consistent approach for measuring media impact in the humanitarian sector. The research framework used for this research is available in the methodology section for other agencies to use.
BBC Media Action is contributing to a stronger evidence base on how media can support people affected by humanitarian emergencies by analysing responses to six emergencies:
BBC Media Action implemented its Syrian refugee project in 2013–2014 following an influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and Lebanon. Assessments revealed that many refugees did not have adequate access to the information required to access services and humanitarian assistance. The communication that did exist, mainly printed leaflets and telephone hotlines, had limited impact within a semi-literate refugee population.
From July–August 2014 the Israeli Army conducted Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.
Seven weeks of Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocket attacks and ground fighting resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 people, the vast majority of them Gazans.According to the UN, most of the Palestinians killed were civilians. 1
1 UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (2014). Annual Humanitarian Overview. Online. Available at: https://www.ochaopt.org/sites/default/files/Annual_Humanitarian_Overview_2014_English_final.pdf
The 2014–2015 Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa was the worst of its kind in history, c deaths and disruptions to everyday lives and livelihoods. A number of factors exacerbated the spread of the disease, including poor healthcare systems, distrust of authorities, stigma around the disease and traditional practices.
On 25 April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck less than 50 miles from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. A 7.3 magnitude earthquake followed on 12 May. Estimates put the death toll at almost 9,000, with 2.8 million people requiring humanitarian assistance.
In 2017, the ongoing drought in Somalia worsened the country’s political and socio-economic fragility. The severe drought was the result of two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall. Over 6.2 million people, half the population, needed humanitarian assistance. The worst-affected areas saw large-scale crop failures and high levels of livestock deaths. Malnutrition and drought-related diseases grew, and increasing numbers of people faced displacement and competition for resources such as water. (UNOCHA 2017). 2
2 UN OCHA (2017). In the worst affected areas, large-scale crop failure and high levels of livestock deaths are occurring. Malnutrition and drought-related diseases are on the rise, so are displacements, including to Ethiopia.
In November 2017, Bangladesh rapidly became home to the world’s largest population of displaced people, as over 700,000 people from the Rakhine state of Myanmar fled escalating violence. By the end of 2018, more than 900,000 people from the Rohingya community were living in 34 camps in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, including families who arrived before 2017.