Radio - A beacon of progress in today’s tech-led communication landscape

To mark this year’s global World Radio Day, the Communicating with Disasters Affected Communities (CDAC) Network will hold a panel discussion in Geneva to explore radio’s vital and enduring role in disaster response efforts.


15.30: Welcome and opening - Leonard Doyle, Director, Media and Communication Division Spokesperson of the Director General, IOM

15.40-16.25: Session 1: Evidence of the link between use of radio and the health of disaster-affected communities

Moderator: Kate Hart, Director of Development, Internews

  • Karin Hugelius, Researcher, Örebro University, Sweden

  • Mike Adams, International Coordinator, First Response Radio  (FRR)

  • Magnolia Yrasuegui, FRR station Manager, Far East Broadcasting Company, Philippines (via video)

Background: Following Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines in November 2013, all radio and TV stations were off the air in Tacloban City, the “Ground Zero” area of the disaster.  CDAC Member First Response Radio (FRR) was on the ground on Day 5 and operational on Day 6. FFR’s radio process and outcomes were the subject of a series of three studies by an independent researcher, Karin Hugelius, as part of her PhD thesis over a three-year period, published by Örebro University in Sweden. More than 400 survivors were interviewed. The first study evaluated the content broadcast by FRR in the emergency phase; the second asked what value members of the affected community got from the station; and the third study made a statistically significant comparison between those members of the community who had access to emergency radio broadcasts and those who did not. The findings will be presented by the author in the session, with a local perspective provided by FRR’s team leader from the Philippines.

16.25-16.50: Q&A

16.50-17.35: Session 2: Radio’s vital role for communities on the move and in conflict

Moderator: Meg Sattler, Community Engagement Global Advisor, OCHA Geneva

  • Caroline Vuillemin, Director General, Fondation Hirondelle

  • Louise Tunbridge, Programme Manager, International Media Support (IMS) Productions Aps

  • Jean-Luc Mootoosamy, IOM consultant, Director, Media Expertise

  • George Tibaijuka, Community Services Officer, UNHCR Tanzania

Background: In situations of population movement, radio can play a vital role in keeping open channels for information and communication. In West Africa, for example, IOM is using radio as part of the ‘Aware Migrants’ campaign to raise awareness about the risks of irregular migration, especially among youth, through peer to peer communications. The campaign uses multiple media, but IOM has found radio especially valuable, not least because it can amplify the voices of the most trusted messengers: returning migrants. Using the actual voices and stories of those who have been exploited by smugglers, the campaign informs and collects feedback from potential migrants on the risks and realities of the journey.

In on-going conflict situations, radio can play a vital advocacy role: challenging dogma, promoting peace and reminding all parties of their common humanity. In the often difficult working environment of Somalia, the IMS-run broadcaster Radio Ergo airs daily programming on humanitarian issues and topics related to the everyday lives of Somalis.  The broadcasts are on shortwave, reaching the rural areas including those parts of the country under Al-Shabab control.  Content and community feedback are also collected from across the country. Most radios in Somalia focus on politics and current affairs and largely ignore the kind of information that can help people make better informed decisions, as well as programming that reminds Somalis of their common humanity in times of humanitarian crisis and conflict. A very recently conducted audience survey shows that Ergo is listened to by six out of 10 Somalis on a regular basis.

In the Central African Republic, a country with recurrent crises, Hirondelle has for 17 years been supporting Radio Ndeke Luka (RNL), a mainstream radio promoting dialogue, serving the public and considered the country’s media of reference. Radio Ndeke Luka is an independent radio covering the whole of the Central African territory 24 hours a day, live on FM in the major urban centers, shortwave for two hours a day, and via the Canal Satellite Afrique packages. RNL also relies on a community radio network that rebroadcasts its programs for one hour a day. In addition, RNL has a unique capacity to inform on-line about events in the country, and to promote humanitarian actions in CAR. Its programs are available in French and Sango.

The proven impact of radio work in supporting reconciliation and post conflict healing in Rwanda has also been replicated in other countries like Sierra Leone. Among the organisations investing in the power of radio to promote peace, especially at community level, is UNESCO with their Communicating Peace initiative in areas of longstanding conflict, such as South Sudan and northern Uganda.

17.30-17.55: The future of disaster radio – Q&A

17.55: Closing: Marian Casey-Maslen, Executive Director, CDAC Network

18.00: Invitation to a reception at IOM

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