Role of radio in disaster management
RECENTLY Radio Pakistan and private radio stations of the country have formed ‘Radio Alliance Pakistan’ to make coordinated efforts for highlighting the problems and suffering of the rain-affected people.
This alliance of the radio industry is also aimed at launching a countrywide fund-raising campaign to help the affected communities.
I highly appreciate the move as radio is regarded as the primary source of information for survivors in all types of disastrous situations. As a radio journalist, I had been covering different disasters during the last 10 years and, on the basis of my experience, I can safely say that radio has always played a remarkable role in providing critically important information to survivors in the aftermath of different disasters.
During many catastrophic situations, radio was the only medium available to the survivors. Transistors were the only source of information for fishermen trapped by cyclones in deep sea. Similarly, the communities living in Katcha areas got first-hand information about the floods in 2010 through radios.Proximity to the affected local community is the most important consideration the media consumer takes into account while choosing a mass medium to get the information and trusting it.
This was proved through practice when the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation initiated a mobile FM radio station that travelled by following the flood in 2010 along the banks of the Indus River. The station provided transmission from different townships and villages of Sindh with the announcement of its location. The communities started believing in the station as being one of their own. The response to the messages and warnings broadcast from the mobile unit was quick and positive.
Similarly, the listeners of Katcha areas trusted the information provided by Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, because the communities living in the region had remained associated with the radio station as active listeners for at least three generations.
The broadcasters of the station were perceived by its audience as being ‘one of them’ because the listeners could actively participate through their letters and telephone calls in interactive transmission of the station. So, the special flood transmission of the station was highly result-oriented. These days radio is once again playing a similar role of an important communication tool in providing vital information to the rain-affected people, as well as highlighting their plight to the rest of the country.
Especially, the regional stations of Radio Pakistan are producing promos and songs in more than 20 regional languages to create awareness in the rest of the country about the needs of eight million people displaced in calamity-hit areas. Keeping these facts in view, the alliance within the radio industry is a good initiative.
I would also suggest more effective coordination between the radio industry and disaster management authorities to further expand the role of the medium to mitigate the suffering of the affected communities.
ALI AKBAR HINGORJO