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Communicating Disasters
Seeking common ground for media and disaster managers

Communicating Disasters

"Where there is no camera, there is no humanitarian intervention.”
- Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres and Foreign Minister of France.

Disaster relief agencies acknowledge the mass media's key role at times of distress and disaster. Yet, journalists and those managing disasters don't always cooperate when crisis breaks. There is often tension and misunderstandings. Communicating about disasters sometimes becomes communication disasters.

How can these two groups support each other's needs in the greater public interest?
What value addition can new information and communication technologies (ICTs) bring in? How can participatory communication help create communities that are better prepared to respond to disasters?

In 2006, TVE Asia Pacific collaborated with the UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok to launch a project that explored these and related questions. Communicating Disasters sought the common ground where public and citizen media can support the work of humanitarian workers and disaster specialists. The project comprised a regional brainstorming meeting and a resource book.

The Brainstorming

Regional Brainstorming Meeting


The Asian regional brainstorming on 'Communicating Disasters: Building on the tsunami experience and responding to future challenges' was held on 21 – 22 December 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand. It brought together 33 leading media professionals, disaster managers and communication specialists from South and Southeast Asia to probe the role of the mass media and communication in times of disaster inspired crises and emergencies.

Read the final Report of the meeting- Report (2 MB)

Click here to download the position description as a pdf document

The Book

Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book (Edited by Nalaka Gunawardene and Frederick Noronha with a Foreword by Sir Arthur C Clarke) was published in December 2007. It is a multi-author book that discusses how information, education and communication can help create disaster resilient communities across the Asia Pacific region, home to half of humanity. It also takes a critical look at the communication lessons of the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, and explores the role of good communications before, during and after disasters.

The book comprises 160 pages (17.3 cm x 24.4 cm) and contains 19 chapters authored by 21 contributors, plus 7 appendices. It is co-published by TVE Asia Pacific and UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok.

Acrobat Reader


Both the meeting report and book chapters are in portable document format (pdf). To read these, your computer needs Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free.


Download the entire book for Free!

Cover of Communicating Disasters - An Asia Pacific Resource Book

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