How to communicate better to stop disasters occurring

I have read an interesting blog written by Robert Glasser from UNISDR, with the WCDRR coming up in Cancun. I agree with many of the points made, and would like to see more culturally appropriate community/family led and oriented DRR communication and learning projects given more credence and attention. My research with #CERT and #Listos in the US is showing that these can have a more significant impact on long term cognition, behaviour sand action towards disaster risk and response. Relevance is key, so Listos target family disaster preparedness first, which within the Latino community is a huge part of life, while their gentle discussion, correction and demonstration allows for myths, including 'Grandma's home remedies' to be examined and compared against what we know from modern medicine to allow communities to transform their understanding, learning and behaviour as a result.

The link to the original blog can be viewed here: click to see the blog in a new window>> Taking his point in turn, I would like to show what we do through this website to address each point, even if it isn't on UNISDR's radar, it should be!
1. Be Engaging.

This is something I have always believed, advocated and attempted to achieve, especially with use of videos, humour and of course the Silly Timmy comic strip which is beginning to be translated into many different languages. And what was striking about this point was the example given about looking after pets, and not wanting to leave them behind following a disaster, which is why I dealt with this through the comic strip too, with one example (in English, below):




2. Respect that people have many pressing concerns.

Very true. This can become problematic and my research is finding that understanding the cultural, economic and social needs of the community you work with is paramount. Just throwing 'education' around to plug perceived knowledge gaps via social media, leaflets or posters is not enough! When undertaking research for my PhD recently, I found the following to be true:

"And while it is true that those who are not literate have coping mechanisms, they are doubly challenged when they don’t speak the local language! And this highlights a principal reason why Listos is so important: it provides easy to understand and access information about preparedness and response for emergencies without overloading participants with too much information, while delivering courses in a relatively short time-scale in their language! But the importance of having classes delivered by human beings (a as opposed to online classes or video instruction) that come from and understand the cultural nuances of the community they are working with (as well as the language) cannot and should not be underestimated. Furthermore curriculum and teaching has been designed to be flexible to a range of functional and physical needs, thereby enhancing their inclusivity. In fact these are the key underpinnings of learning intentions: being able to reach out to and engage hard-to-reach and previously assumed hard-to-teach communities by taking a holistic and flexible approach to content and delivery of curriculum."

So what is important is to make disaster preparedness, risk reduction and planning a pressing concern.

3. Build understanding and trust.

When people attend Listos classes in Santa Barbara, families often attend together, while every family brings food and it becomes a shared cultural experience, while building trust and cohesion throughout the wider community. And of course, the point about relevance is key here too. This is something we have strived to develop through our resources and efforts over the last nine years through curriculum development, resources created here and through agencies such as IFRCRC to ensure that it is up to date, relevant and compelling!

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