IOM innovates communication with storm-ravaged communities

TACLOBAN CITY, July 10 (PNA) — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will roll out innovations in communicating with storm-hit communities in a bid to promote citizen engagement in monitoring of Yolanda response activities.

Jerby Santo, IOM’s two-way communication coordinator for Haiyan Response said they will roll out “talking box” and community karaoke singing to stimulate response-related discussions.

“Talking box” is comparable to drop box where people could drop papers written with suggestions and complaints about disaster response.

According to Santo, NGOs have been conducting consultations, but these are not really effective since some people in the community are hesitant to share their thoughts.

“Another plan that we will launch is karaoke singing. Filipinos love karaoke. Before Yolanda, almost every home had karaoke machine. We will let them sing first to build up their confidence to talk,” he added.

IOM has been providing training to Communication with Communities (CwC) practitioners on the use of crisis reduction maps. They also started the #KeepThemSafe social media campaign, which explains the importance of social media in raising awareness.

Its “Tindog Kita” (Let’s Rise Up) radio program recently broadcasted episodes on shelter beneficiary selection. Developed by local radio talents, it follows the fictionalized story of one family whose home and livelihood were destroyed when the typhoon tore through the central Philippines.

A “suitcase Radio Kit” has been purchased by IOM as part of prepositioning for future emergencies and disasters.

IOM’s community response map (CRM), developed in Haiti earthquake response, is a tool to engage in two-way communications with crisis-affected communities. The online platform uses radio and media to start conversations, encourage response by SMS and calls and inform the humanitarian community about urgent needs. All messages are automatically logged in an online platform.

“In crisis contexts, displaced communities have many questions and urgently seek answers. The humanitarian community also wants people to have access to important information like building back safer, protection of vulnerable persons, recognizing and mitigating trafficking risks, and preventing disease and infections,” said.

The CRM complements other initiatives like mobile phone distributions of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for cash-for-work beneficiaries. Initially, UNDP provided phones to update workers about their compensations, but it was used by recipients to send SMS to authorities.

In Haiyan-affected areas, IOM has partnered with local media outlets to produce weekly live radio interviews, frequently asked questions (FAQ) flyers and banners based on focus group discussions in evacuation centers, print media, a radio drama series and key message songs related to safer shelter, health, protection and other topics.

During the first six months after the storm, the NGO has distributed 3,000 flyers and 125 banners in evacuation centers to address (FAQ). At least 16 interactive radio programs to discuss post-Yolanda concerns. This initiative has reached an estimated 2.78 million typhoon survivors.

“By providing information in a creative and appropriate manner, humanitarian actors can improve the way in which they reach and engage with disaster-affected communities,” Santo added. (PNA)