An important, but often overlooked element in humanitarian aid, is information. Relevant and precise information and two-way communication about what to do when diseases break out, how to stay safe, or where to find food and clean water can contribute to saving lives. Local media are key to providing such information because they are known by the local population, speak the language and are familiar with local politics and culture.
The media can also act as a link between populations and international relief agencies. However, local media often do not have the experience of covering a humanitarian disaster, and may lack the knowledge enabling them to carry out such a task with the quality, balance and neutrality needed.
Since the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, IMS has been engaged in a number of humanitarian responses, seeking to enable local media to perform this crucial role:
- Kenya and Somalia With daily one-hour broadcasts, the humanitarian radio service Radio Ergo provides its listeners in Somalia and in refugee camps in Kenya with valuable and life-saving information on issues such as health and HIV/AIDS, education, conflict prevention, and emergencies, such as droughts and floods. Read more here.
- Zimbabwe IMS supported the establishment of the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre (HIFC). HIFC seeks to enable the local media and humanitarian actors to support Zimbabwe’s recovery process by improving and increasing the ﬂow of information on humanitarian issues. Read more here.
- Haiti Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, IMS provided emergency support to the media sector, and subsequently developed a programme to enhance humanitarian and investigative reporting, as well as supporting local media associations.
IMS is also a founding member of CDAC (Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities), a unique mix of media development organisations, humanitarian agencies, and technology providers. By establishing close partnerships with other international organisations through CDAC and other networks, we seek to ensure that assistance in humanitarian crises is well-coordinated, efficient and sustainable.