The Communication Initiative and Haiti: how we, public relators, can hope to add real value

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My good friend Warren Feek, from the Communication Initiative, has sent the following message…very relevant in general, but even more specifically for our professional community. Please read and, where possible, participate. Thank you.

Dear Drum Beat network participant,

On behalf of all connected with The Communication Initiative network, we wish to express our support for and solidarity with the people of Haiti as they struggle to overcome this massive disaster.

We have received some requests, and need your help. We also want to provide some connections for people and organisations hoping to relate to organisations in Haiti – when communications become possible. Plus, we all know from previous times like this that spaces to communicate, debate, and struggle with the meaning and implications of are vitally important. Consequently, we have created these spaces through The CI and include links to these spaces here below.

Now is, of course, a time for action and connection. But there will come an appropriate moment when we can all reflect on the broader lessons from this tragedy – possibly:

How it is not earthquakes that kill, but buildings. The quality of domestic, commercial, and government buildings is directly related to poverty. Though the international community seems to have responded very promptly and at scale to the disaster, are those of us in that community also culpable here – due to the complete inability to address, at scale, issues of poverty?

How we will all need to ensure that it is the people of Haiti who drive and control the re-building of their country. Yep, we will all need to help as much as we can, but effective reconstruction will need to be debated, discussed, critically reviewed, and driven by Haitians. There will be an enormous temptation after such a fundamental, huge disaster and such massive international engagement, to continue making Haiti an international project. It is not and should not be. It is the Haitian people’s country. Our role is to support them.

How we may all need to even more effectively communicate public-level and agency-level strategies and knowledge about risk management and disaster prevention and preparedness – where communication is crucial. The most recent issue of the Son de Tambora focused on an initiative led by the IFRC – “The Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction (Alianza Global para la Reducción del Riesgo de Desastres)” (in Spanish) at http://www.comminit.com/es/node/308950/37 – is part of that process.

But those are questions for the future.

What can we contribute now?

1. We have had a request for any disaster management communication and media guidelines or support materials in Creole or French. If you have them please send us links or PDFs – anything.

2. If you wish to review, for possible use by your organisation, existing risk management, disaster prevention, preparedness and management communication and media materials in Spanish and English please see the featured materials on these pages:

Global Home Page (English)
http://www.comminit.com/

América Latina (Spanish)
http://www.comminit.com/es/la

Risk Management (Gestión del Riesgo) Theme Site (Spanish)
http://www.comminit.com/es/mainpage/549

3. If you wish to try and directly relate to communication and media organisations in or related to Haiti with which you and your organisation identify, please review the below lists and links. Within the summaries included in the links below there will be contact people and their contact information – though immediate communication could be very difficult, of course.

Haitian Programmes and Projects – Spanish
http://www.comminit.com/es/section5/37/37%2C10?op0=OR&filter0 []=301&op1=OR&o
p2=OR

* for example: Centro Gheskio – Haití
http://www.comminit.com/es/node/43775/37

Haitian Programmes and Projects – English
http://www.comminit.com/en/section5/36/36%2C10?op0=OR&filter0 []=301&op1=OR&o
p2=OR

* for example: AlterPresse – Haiti
http://www.comminit.com/en/node/122210/306

Risk Management (Gestión del Riesgo) Theme Site (Spanish)
http://www.comminit.com/es/mainpage/549

4. Spaces to Discuss and Debate

Poll votes – http://www.comminit.com/en/mainpage/36
Forum debate – http://groups.comminit.com/node/308958
Blog Comments – http://www.comminit.com/en/node/308970/bbc
News Aggregation – http://ci.daylife.com/topic/haiti

Under the most urgent and difficult of circumstances and huge duress, the local, national, and international development community is responding to the tragedy in Haiti. I am sure that many people have views and opinions related to this response. We have established four spaces for you to contribute and share those views and ideas.

We do this with full knowledge that some people – those with many of the most valid and insightful perspectives – doing the tough, up-front work in Haiti – work that many of us can barely imagine – will not be able to contribute. We establish these spaces so that others have the opportunity, in real time as these issues unfold, to reflect and consider.

Learning from these events is vitally important and we hope that you will contribute to that shared learning.

Poll and Comments:
http://www.comminit.com/en/mainpage/36

How would you rate the international development community’s response to the tragedy in Haiti? Why? (Please add comments that explain your choice). The poll is at http://www.comminit.com/en/mainpage/36 (This poll is available on all of the CI Global website pages)

Forum:
http://groups.comminit.com/node/308958

Haiti: Discuss
Description: A space for people involved in local, national and international development, including communication and media, to share thoughts on development in Haiti at http://groups.comminit.com/node/308958

To Join this fourm please go to the group at http://groups.comminit.com/node/308958 and click on Join in the right margin. You will need to log in. If you are not yet registered on The CI site you will need to register [see top right].

Policy Blog:
http://www.comminit.com/en/node/308970/bbc

This note appears as blog at http://www.comminit.com/en/node/308970/bbc Please use the comments facility to share and debate your perspectives, views, and ideas.

News
http://ci.daylife.com/topic/haiti

You can see an aggregation of the most recent news, photos, quotes, socal media and trend lines related to Haiti drawing from a thousands of news processes from around the world at a prototype Haiti News page at http://ci.daylife.com/topic/haiti don with our Partners and friends at Daylife.

Many thanks. This all feels somewhat inadequate in the face of such a huge disaster and challenge, but what will make the difference, we hope, is the complete tapestry of action; this is our very small part of that tapestry.

Thank you for engaging and much love and strength to all of our network friends in Haiti and those working on the response – as is said in my native NZ land, Kia Kaha e Kia Aroha (Much Strength and Much Love)!

Warren Feek
Executive Director
The Communication Initiative

Email: wfeek@comminit.com
Blog: http://www.comminit.com/en/development_policy/bloggers/4
Website: www.comminit.com
Numbers:
1-250-658-6372 – office
1-250-588-8795 – mobile
1-250-658-1728 – fax

1 COMMENT

  1. May I suggest as an additional resource Ushahidi (http://ushahidi.com/). For use now and in the future when involved with preparedness planning and catastrophe reaction as well as aggregating information from the public in times of crisis so that the speediest, best and most useful response can be made to the situation at hand. And I would echo Warren’s Kia Kaha e Kia Aroha to all in Haiti.

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