Disaster Management Communications Plan – Case Study, Nevis
DISASTER AN OVERVIEW WHAT IS DISASTER? Natural or man-caused event which causes intense negative impacts on people, goods and services and/or the environment, exceeding the affected community’s internal capability to respond adequately. HAZARD It is the potential for a natural or man-caused event to occur with negative consequences. A hazard becomes a disaster when the event causes intense negative impacts on people, goods and services. Hazards could classified in five groups: Natural Disaster, Technology disaster, Health disaster, Crime Disaster and Personal/man-made disaster. * Natural disaster (hurricane, tornado, flood, fire) Technology disaster: building failure (roof collapse, water pipes burst) or computer failure (data or hardware lost or in jeopardy) * Health disaster (epidemics, environmental catastrophe) * Crime disaster: violent crime (workplace assault, hostage situation, bomb detonation, robbery) and cybercrime (hacking, identity theft/phishing, employee sabotage) * Personal disaster (sudden death or disability, succession crisis due to retirement or illness) VULNERABILITY The extent to which a community’s structure, services or environment is likely to be damaged or disrupted by the impact of a hazard.
Vulnerability can be changed via prevention, mitigation and development activities. RISK The probability that a disaster will occur given the hazard and vulnerability. DISASTER MANAGEMENT A collective term encompassing all aspects of planning for and responding to disasters, including both pre- and post disaster activities. It refers to both the risk and consequences of a disaster. DEVELOPMENT The cumulative and lasting increase, tied to social changes, in the quantity and quality of a community’s goods, services and resources, with the purpose of maintaining and improving the security and quality of human life.
DISASTER CYCLE The idea here is that disasters happen in cycles. Parallel with the cycle, is the nonstop process of development. Consequently, disasters and cycle activities affect development. It is worth noting that disaster management has just recently been studied and described as a cycle. Seven stages of the disaster cycle This cycle has been described in terms of an interconnected chain of stages, which are: 1. Prevention 2. Mitigation 3. Preparedness 4. Alert 5. Response 6. Rehabilitation 7. Reconstruction Three Phases of Disaster
When the time of an event(s) is considered, it is obvious that disaster could be stratified in three phases: Before – During – After (BDA). Hence the seven stages mentioned above could conveniently be divided into these three phases, according to the activities that occur. First Phase (Before the event) The following stages are considered under this phase: • Prevention • Mitigation • Preparation • Alert Prevention Measures taken for the purpose of preventing natural or man-caused phenomena from causing or giving rise to disasters or other emergency situations. Mitigation
It refers to the measures taken to reduce the loss of life, livelihood and property by disasters, either by reducing vulnerability or by modifying the hazard, where possible. Although some disasters may be prevented, most of them cannot be. Mitigation tends to reduce damaging effects to life and property caused by non-preventable disaster forces. The difference between Prevention and Mitigation is that; Prevention refers to when the event doesn’t occur. Meanwhile Mitigation simply means that the event occurs but the impact is reduced because the vulnerability has been reduced or the hazard modified.
Preparedness These are measures taken to reduce to the minimum level possible the loss of human lives and other damage through the organizing of prompt and efficient actions of response and rehabilitation. Such measures include the following: * Organize local disaster committee. * Develop a plan for emergencies * Train personnel and practice. * Inform the community about risks and actions. * Locate resources and inventory physical, human and financial. Alert The notice or signal issued indicating that specific precautions should be taken because of the probability or proximity of a dangerous event.
It is the official, and in some cases, lawful notice of the action approved due to successive evaluation of threat indicators, that tends to limit the phenomenon’s impact through preparedness measures. Different types of alert are defined based on the level of certainty that an event will occur. Declarations of alert must be: 1. Public – must be given by all available media. 2. Timely – any delay may be interpreted in the sense that the danger is not real or imminent. 3. Clear and concise – there must be no contradictions. 4. Official – emanating from accepted or trustworthy sources.
When an event becomes imminent, then an alarm is issued. The community alert actions are as follows; * Establish monitoring of hazard. * Inform public of hazard and risk. * Activate plans. * Establish communications with NDO, media and public. Second Phase (During the event) * response-relief. Response Actions carried out in a disaster situation with the objective to save lives, alleviate suffering and reduce economic losses. It is worth noting that response is the implementation of a previously developed Emergency Plan. Success depends on the work in the before the event phase.
The response actions are: * Evacuation of risk areas * Search and rescue * Medical assistance * Damage assessment and needs analysis * Establishment of temporary lodging, food, clothes and supply management. Third Phase (after the event) • Rehabilitation • Reconstruction Rehabilitation It is the restoration of basic services and the beginning of the repair of physical, social and economic damage. Rehabilitation actions involve: * Provide potable water and food supply. * Restore power. * Maintain health. * Restore transportation and communication. Provide temporary housing. Reconstruction It is the medium- and long-term repair of physical, social and economic damage, and the return of affected structures, to a condition equal to or better than before the disaster. Reconstruction actions include the following: * Physically re-arrange the community. * Construct permanent housing and public buildings. * Rebuild roads and bridges. * Re-establish agriculture production. Phase one, amongst the others should be the most concentrated phase. Remember, “Prevention is better than Cure”. COMMUNICATIONS AN OVERVIEW
The media obviously has a significant impact not only in the reporting of disaster relief, but also in inducing greater responsiveness on the part of individuals and corporations. Communication is an important element of preparedness, mitigation, alert, relief, recovery, and prevention of future disasters. WHAT IS COMMUNICATIONS? Communication is the process of sharing our ideas, thoughts, and feelings with other people and having those ideas, thoughts, and feelings understood by the people we are talking with through their feedback(s) (verbal / non-verbal, attitude, behavior or action).
When we communicate we speak, listen, and observe. In simple terms, communication is the process by which one person (or group) shares and imparts information to another person (or group) so that both persons/groups clearly understand one another. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS It is to share meaning and understanding between the person sending the message (Nevis Disaster Management Department) and the person receiving the message (the entire Nevis Island-wide society). The key element is “understanding. ” Poor communication can waste time and energy and cause conflict between people.
ELEMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS Communication is a process and therefore has pertinent elements, which must be available for it to occur. More so these elements operate in a cycle chain than a linear series. They are: Source – Message – Channel – Receiver – Feedback Source In this case, the Disaster Management department is the source of information, with all its strengths and weaknesses, its knowledge and skills. It includes its research and the elements that make up that research. And your partners, with whom you exchange information.
One or more objectives — These objectives will vary depending on the target audience. Message Disaster messages compel the targeted audience to think, feel, or act. They can: * Show the importance, urgency, or magnitude of the issue. * Show the relevance of the issue. * Put a “face” on the issue. * Be tied to specific audience values, beliefs, or interests of the audience. * Reflect an understanding of what would motivate the audience to think, feel, or act. * Be culturally relevant and sensitive * Be Memorable The Disaster message approach varies depending on the target audience.
It includes data that have been processed and adapted to make sure the disaster message can be understood by its addressees and it takes into account the information needs of the various groups the department wishes to reach. The following questions could serve as a guideline: * What information does the disaster department want to transmit? * What needs to be known and understood? * What behaviours/attitude is the department researching? The consideration of these factors has greatly enhanced the composition of the message… “Plan Now, Don’t Wait, Disasters Don’t Discriminate”
Transmission / Channel The channel is both the medium that the Nevis Disaster Management Department uses to transmit its information and the understanding that it expects to achieve in those who receive the message. The department’s channel(s) ranges from intra department to mass media. The channels used for this strategy are: * radio, * TV, * Cartoons * Billboards * Social media – facebook, twitter, etc * Newspaper. * Newsletter * magazine * Posters contest by schools. * Disaster drill. * Community centre display posters Receiver The receiver is the destination of the disaster message.
The receiver interprets the message according to his or her own perspective, knowledge, and logic. A good disaster message takes the following into account: * To whom does the department want to transmit its information? * What groups, people, associations, projects, departments might be interested in the methods and outcomes of its research? Stratification of the NDMD Target Audience Groups The Nevis Island society has been structured into seven broad categories of target audiences with sub-branches under each of the main groups. 1. Audience Group One – Government Officials * Ministers of Government Government Departments * Entire civil servants 2. Audience Group Two – Education Unit * Preschool – Grade two * Grade three – grade Six * First Form – Fifth Form * Sixth Form – University * Teachers * Auxiliary staff * Educations Officers * Parents. 3. Audience Group Three – Social Groups * Families * Senior Citizens * Clubs / groups / associations ( numerous) * N. G. Os 4. Audience Group Four – Religious Bodies ( churches, etc) * Leaders * Men * Women * Young Adults * Children 5. Audience Group Five – Business Sectors * Banks * Hotels * Super markets * Companies * Legal firms 6. Audience Group Six – Media Newspapers * TV * Radio * Internet social network 7. Audience Group Seven – Regional And International Agencies * CDEMA * USAID * OECS * CARICOM Feedback Communication is not a one-way process: The Department sends a message to its audience and that audience reacts to the message received. It is important to test the effect of the message and the communication tool before finalizing it. Then the department can make adjustments based on the receiver’s feedback. Noise Unfortunately whether we like it or not, the uninvited noise will always present itself at any point in the communication cycle.
Noise is anything that interferes with the smooth flow of communication. It is the main hindrance to effective communications. Noise could be classified at three levels. Semantic Noise: This occurs when words are used in communication which the other party does not know their meaning, hence creating obstacles in communications. Semantic noise is something that we all need to be aware. Semantic noise is the interpretation of words and phrases that distract us from the meaning of the communication. Mechanical Noise: It is when the tool of communication gets affected, hence hindering the smooth flow of the message.
For instance, the bad mic will affect the audience from hearing clearly. In written communications, a bad pen may not write words clearly, making it harder for the receiver to get the message. Environmental Noise: This is the most common noise. It refers to the noise from the environment, which affects the smooth flow of communications. For instance, conversing in a political campaign crowd could be difficult because of the environmental noise from the mass audience. THE NEVIS DISASTER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN INTRODUCTION CHALLENGES AND IDIOSYNCRASIES TO COMBAT
In as much as Comprehensive Disaster Management deserves a level of serious attention from every section of the Nevis society – young and old, public and private, etc, unfortunately, the reverse seems to be true. PROBLEM STATEMENTS The following problem-assessment questions have been developed to guide this strategic communications plan to a credible direction: 1. Is disaster awareness the top of minds of Nevis respondents? 2. Are disasters on Nevis considered near and real or somewhat far and abstract? 3. Do people say: God is a Nevisian?
Does the religious cliche “God is in our island” serve as justification for an attitude of unpreparedness on Nevis? 4. Does Nevis have the tendency of last-minute preparation? 5. Are disaster messages ignored on Nevis because major threats did not materialize after warnings and alerts were made? 6. Do business institutions on Nevis steadily and enthusiastically sponsored Disaster management programmes and projects? As a result of these lukewarm attitudes mentioned above, these twelve idiosyncrasies have been built consciously or unconsciously on every mind. 1. It won’t happen to me 2. God is in our Island.. so. 3. I meant to.. but… . Forgot to do it 5. I’m safe here 6. If it happens, it will be minor 7. I can handle it at the last minute 8. I just can’t be bothered 9. Never going to happen 10. Waste of time and money 11. Yeah right, tomorrow maybe 12. Got other things to worry about. DISASTER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN FOR NEVIS MISSION STATEMENT * To make all target publics (audiences) aware, involved and committed to consistent actions in Comprehensive Disaster Management. OBJECTIVES: * To achieve public education and information sharing by targeting the right audiences with the correct message and right tools in the most effective manner; To disseminate straight-forward messages to different audiences via the most appropriate medium. * To strengthen and increase Nevis Disaster Management Department’s effectiveness and improve its co-coordinating abilities within the Island. * To motivate the target audiences to contribute in policy making through public opinion polling (participatory approach). * To build a culture of safety via a consistent involvement of the public to all the phases of disaster management. TARGET AUDIENCE GROUPS The Nevis Island society has been structured into seven broad categories of target audiences 8.
Audience Group One – Government Officials * Ministers of Government * Government Departments * Entire civil servants 9. Audience Group Two – Education Unit * Preschool – Grade two * Grade three – grade Six * First Form – Fifth Form * Sixth Form – University * Teachers * Auxiliary staff * Educations Officers * Parents. 10. Audience Group Three – Social Groups * Families * Senior Citizens * Clubs / groups / associations ( numerous) * N. G. Os 11. Audience Group Four – Religious Bodies ( churches, etc) * Leaders * Men * Women * Young Adults * Children 12. Audience Group Five – Business Sectors Banks * Hotels * Super markets * Companies * Legal firms 13. Audience Group Six – Media * Newspapers * TV * Radio * Internet social network 14. Audience Group Seven – Regional And International Agencies * CDEMA * USAID * OECS * CARICOM MESSAGE (SLOGAN, BRANDING) * Plan now! Don’t Wait! Disasters Don’t Discriminate * Hazards awareness, * Actions to be taken before, during and after their ( hazards) occurrences COMMUNICATIONS CHANNELS * Television stations: Nevis Newscast * Radio stations: Von Radio, Choice FM, Praise FM * Newspapers: The Leeward’s Time, Observer, Links, etc * Web sites:www. evisdm. com * Community centres:All the five parishes on the Island * Independence Square:Charlestown * Schools:Pre-school to Sixth form * Libraries Charlestown and Gingerland Libraries * Recreation centers (e. g. basketball courts, soccer fields, drag race) * Community non-profit offices: Red Cross and clubs * Supermarkets:Best Buy, Bargain house, Rams, TDC.. * Fast food restaurants: * Literature Racks: Brochures, Flyers, newsletters, magazines ACTIVITIES GROUP ONE: Government Departments & Officials * PSA Audio Visual productions * Radio talk or call-in shows (Disaster and U) Information tips * Web links (www. nevisdm. com) * Expose on Disaster topics * Speeches * One-on-one meetings * Conferences * Disaster Preparedness Department for the month * Magazine * Audio-Visual Production to Disaster messages via dramatizations, monologue, poetry, etc. * Drills * Training GROUP TWO: Education Unit * PSA Audio Visual productions * Radio talk or call-in shows (Disaster and U) * Social media – facebook, tweeters, hi5, tag, etc * Poster / drawing Competition * Poetry * Rhyme songs for Preschool – Grade 2 * Puppet productions * Debates * Dramatisation /skits /monologue /dialogue Quizzes competitions * Expose on Disaster topics * A benefit race * Web links (www. nevisdm. com) * Parades (Ms Disaster Management) * One-on-one meetings * Open houses * Speeches * Music competition on disaster themes * Disaster Clubs * Training * Drills GROUP THREE: Social Groups * PSA Audio Visual productions * Radio talk or call-in shows (Disaster and U) * Social media – facebook, twitters, hi5, tag, etc * Dramatisation /skits /monologue /dialogue * Expose on Disaster topics * Testimonials * Training * Drills GROUP FOUR: Religious Bodies (churches, etc) PSA Audio Visual productions * Radio talk or call-in shows (Disaster and U) * Social media – facebook, tweeters, hi5, tag, etc * Dramatisation /skits /monologue /dialogue * Expose on Disaster topics * Testimonials * Training * Drills * Weekly multi-hazard tips to churches GROUP FIVE: Business Sector * PSA Audio Visual productions * Radio talk or call-in shows (Disaster and U) * Training * Sponsorship * Annual award to the most disaster-prepared organisation. GROUP SIX: Media * Tools of disseminations * Assist in the productions of Comprehensive Disaster Management messages News conferences * Editorial board meetings at newspapers * Training GROUP SEVEN: Regional and International Agencies * Sponsorship * Update on all strategic communications activities. MATERIALS TO SUPPORT ACTIVITIES * News releases * Puppet production * PSAs on multi-hazards * Fliers and brochures * Opinion editorials (op-eds) * Letters to the editor * Posters * Public service announcements (PSAs) * Bookmarks * Video presentations * Web pages * A float in a parade * Buttons, pins, and ribbons * Promotional items and giveaways * Stickers * Audio visual equipment TO BE CONTINUED