|Home > News||21 February 2008|
Communicating Disasters launched at Sri Lanka Press Institute
TVE Asia Pacific's latest publication, Communicating Disasters: An Asia Pacific Resource Book, had its Sri Lankan launch on 19 February 2008 in Colombo.
The multi-author book focusing on how information, education and communication can help create disaster resilient communities across the Asia Pacific was released at the auditorium of Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) in Colombo.
The book, co-published by TVE Asia Pacific and the UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok, was first released during the Third Global Knowledge Conference (GK3) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 11 to 13 December 2007.
The Colombo event was joined by some contributing authors based in Sri Lanka who exchanged ideas with development and media professionals.
"This book comes out at a time when both the media industry and the global humanitarian sector are undergoing rapid change," said Nalaka Gunawardene, TVEAP Director and co-editor of Communicating Disasters. "Our contributors are among the 'change agents' leading or consolidating these changes, and thus able to offer insights from the cutting edge in their respective spheres."
He added: "This book does not claim to provide all the answers, but we hope it has at least raised many pertinent questions. Instead of trying to be comprehensive or definitive, our contributors are being provocative and imaginative."
Following Nalaka's introduction, authors Buddhi Weerasinghe, Patrick Fuller and Manori Wijesekera briefly talked about chapters they contributed to the book.
“The success or failure of humanitarian action can depend on good communication," noted Patrick Fuller, Communications Coordinator with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Colombo.
He added: "This is far more complex than simply building good relations with the media in times of crisis. Communications needs of beneficiaries must be addressed in programme planning and delivery, and humanitarian agencies must place more emphasis on sharing information and resources rather than competing for airtime and logo promotion.”
"There is no single recipe for success in building disaster resilient communities," said Dr.Buddhi Weerasinghe, whose chapter was on creating disaster resilience at community level. "It is best to approach a community with an open mind. In most cases, the community has most of the answers. That comes from traditional wisdom of villagers, although much of it is now disappearing or is being ignored by experts from outside.”
Manori Wijesekera, Regional Programme Manager of TVE Asia Pacific, talked about her organisation's main response to the Asian Tsunami of December 2004: Children of Tsunami media project.
“Children of Tsunami was a multi-country, multi-media project that tracked how ordinary Asians rebuilt their lives, livelihoods and future after one of the biggest disasters in recent years," Manori said. "We documented on TV, video and web the personal recovery stories of eight affected families in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand for nearly a year after the disaster."
She added: "Our many media products - distributed on broadcast, narrowcast and online platforms - inspired wide ranging public discussion on disaster relief, recovery and rehabilitation. In that process, we were also able to demonstrate that’s a more engaged, respectful kind of journalism was possible when covering post disaster situations.”
The contributors then engaged the audience in a discussion on different aspects of communicating disasters before, during and after they happen. The predominantly journalist audience was more interested in the media-based communication of disasters.
The launch meeting was chaired by Kshama Ranawana, Manager, Advocacy and Media Freedom, Sri Lanka Press Institute.
Communicating Disasters brings together 21 authors – most of them from Asia – who share their experiences and insights on effective communication before, during and after disasters. Edited by two leading Asian journalists -- TVEAP Director/CEO Nalaka Gunawardene and independent journalist Frederick Noronha -- the book carries a foreword by Sir Arthur C Clarke, inventor of the communications satellite.
The book is the result of a year-long process that began with an Asian brainstorming meeting on Communicating Disasters that TVEAP and UNDP convened in December 2006 in Bangkok. That meeting, attended by three dozen participants drawn from media and disaster management sectors, identified the need for a handbook that can strengthen cooperation of these two communities before, during and after disasters.
This book is aimed at media professionals, disaster managers, development workers and civil society groups across Asia -– in short, all who share an interest in using information and communication to create safer societies and communities.