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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters: Natural disasters

Natural disasters include floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other events not directly caused by humankind. A natural disaster can result in loss of life and property damage, and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake. The severity of damage depends in part on the affected population’s resilience, or ability to recover. You can read more on the subject here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_disaster

The increase in frequency and severity of some natural disasters, including flooding and low-pressure wind systems (hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons and tornados) has been linked to global climate change.

In its annual World Disasters Report, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies charts the revolutionary impact of technology on humanitarian aid, and also explores the barriers to its adoption. You can read about the report in Poor suffer digital deficit in disasters – Red Cross at this address: http://www.trust.org/item/20131017033543-8pi6y (TRUST, October 2013), or download the full report, World Disasters Report: Focus on technology and the future of humanitarian action, via this link:  http://worlddisastersreport.org/en/

Farm Radio Weekly has covered natural disasters before. This story from issue #41 (October 2008) talks about the floods which affected farmers in Mozambique that year. You can read it at: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/27/3-mozambique-preparing-for-natural-disasters-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/

The Notes to broadcasters from issue #216 (September 2012) offer ideas for radio stations which broadcast to regions where disasters are prevalent. The Notes suggest the kinds of roles stations can play to reduce the impact of future storms, floods and plagues on their listening communities: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/09/10/notes-to-broadcasters-on-natural-disasters/

Keeping listeners abreast of the weather is an important function of any radio station. A recent story from Cameroon can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/02/11/cameroon-community-radio-helps-farmers-and-fishers-cope-with-climate-change-and-extreme-weather-alertnet/, along with Notes to broadcasters: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/02/11/notes-to-broadcasters-on-climate-and-weather-programs/

Natural disasters affect most of the African continent. Statistics on climate change and its effect on disasters in Africa can be found here: http://www.grida.no/publications/vg/africa/. If you broadcast to a region which is prone to natural disasters, you may want to consider what role your station can play.

Farm Radio Weekly issue #74 (July 2009) offers ideas for radio programs on how rural listeners might prevent, prepare for, or recover from a natural disaster. You can read it through this address: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/07/20/disaster-prevention-mitigation-and-recovery-story-ideas-for-the-radio/

Farm Radio Resource Pack # 64: Radio: A Tool for Disaster Prevention and Recovery (July 2002) has several scripts which may be of use in preparing programs for such circumstances. It is available through this link: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-64-radioa-tool-for-disaster-prevention-and-recovery/

When local people are informed that a natural disaster is coming, they can take action to protect their families. Radio can be an invaluable tool, sharing information to help people prepare for a disaster and notifying people when a disaster is imminent. Here are some more ideas to increase your effectiveness in broadcasting information on disaster preparedness:

-Tell your audience about the importance of food security and farmers, especially in times of natural disaster. Promote the crucial role of farmers in coping with disaster, and give farmers the respect they deserve.
-Develop programs that shift people’s preferences away from imported food, especially during times of disaster, or during seasons when disasters often strike. Use programs to promote and stimulate demand for locally-grown food.
-Establish rural phone “hot lines” before and during disasters. Use the hot lines as part of live call-in/text-in programs.
-Ask popular artists and singers to lend their names to radio campaigns about disaster preparedness and mitigation. Invite the artists to appear and be interviewed on your programs.
-Highlight the cost of disasters to farmers and agricultural production as well as to the country as a whole. Invite representatives from NGOs and government (for example, the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries) to participate in informing the public.

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