FEATURE17 November 2015

Emergency broadcast

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Since 1994, when the Rwanda genocide prompted the BBC World Service to set up a Kinyarwanda language service, the broadcaster has responded to 28 emergencies by providing critical information for those affected. And for the past 10 years, these have been organised through the BBC’s international development charity, BBC Media Action.


In 2012, the BBC along with other media helped to establish the Communication for Disaster Affected Communities Network (CDAC), which has improved understanding of what communication support works best in these types of situations.

Theodora Hannides, research manager at BBC Media Action, has been exploring the role and effectiveness of humanitarian broadcasts in emergencies, and used insights from BBC Media Action’s monitoring and evaluation of four case studies, to put together a report on the subject. The four case studies investigated were: a Syrian refugee and Gaza Lifeline project, both in 2014; the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014/2015; and the Nepal earthquake response in 2015.

Hannides’ report, Humanitarian broadcasting in emergencies – a synthesis of evaluation findings, looks specifically at mass communication programming, where broadcasting can reach millions of people and inform them of what has happened, what to do and how to find people.

She points out that there are a number of challenges in researching crisis ...