Monday, August 11, 2014

Ebola coverage and international broadcasters

I feel that some of the documentaries from Vice News and Al Jazeera are well ahead of other international broadcasters in their coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Rumours are killing people or



The problem is that correct medical information isn't reaching the people who need it most in West Africa. I personally feel this is where international radio broadcasters targeting West Africa in local languages could play a very important role. BBC World Service set up "Life-Line" programmes after the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and during the drought in 2011 in the Horn of Africa.

Paul Rasmussen of BBC World Service tells me that BBC Media Action (the World Service charity) has already been broadcasting advice about Ebola and working in Sierra Leone with local journalists in consultation with medical experts. They will be announcing further broadcast updates for our audiences this week - and they will include French, Hausa and English.

Meanwhile in Gaza

I see that Internews has got 3 million pounds of funding to set up emergency humanitarian broadcasts into Gaza. This according to a media release from the US NGO dated August 7th. Looks to me as if Internews is gradually replacing the need for a "Voice of America". 

Internews will be providing support to local radio stations and SMS/mobile channels that are providing life-saving humanitarian and health information to up to 95 per cent of the Gazan population, a highly effective approach most recently used in the Philippines as part of the DFID [UK Department for International Development]-funded response to Typhoon Haiyan.

The UK's International Development Secretary Justine Greening said of the total 3m pounds RRF [Rapid Response Facility] funds to be released this week "this extra support will enable trusted partners who are already working with communities on the ground in Gaza to be able to meet emergency medical needs, provide clean water for people and reduce the risk of disease".
Widespread insecurity and destruction of critical infrastructure including power supply have shut down 23 out of 25 radio stations in Gaza. Violence is heavily restricting access to vital services including the provision of life-saving information during humanitarian ceasefires and aid distributions. The technical and human resources of local media have been heavily impacted, making it extremely challenging for people to access the information they need to help them find safety and aid, especially as populations displace to the coast.

Internews Europe's chief executive Daniel Bruce said "at the heart of this emergency programme will be a daily, hour-long humanitarian information programme to be broadcast across our network of media partners covering the Gaza strip. Through careful and close coordination with the UN and all other major humanitarian agencies, we will ensure that the most vulnerable people in Gaza receive life-saving information on access to food, water, shelter and medical supplies. Our work will also allow the population to provide feedback to aid agencies on their ongoing needs and the effectiveness of the response."

Internews is immediately able to reach approximately 95 per cent of the population in all five governorates in the Gaza strip through nine media partners located both in Gaza and in the West Bank (with signals reaching Gaza).

The project is being funded through the Department for International Development's Rapid Response Facility of which Internews Europe is a member. The RRF is a network of pre-approved specialist aid organizations and private businesses who can rapidly deliver emergency medical, water and sanitation assistance to affected people.

This project is funded by the UK's Department for International Development.

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