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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction KnO 100449_IFRC_Tools_9 (Printable PDF)
The main messages that Communicating Better
Building seeks to put forward to communities
• The causes and characteristics of the disaster
event that occurred;
• The probability that a similar event might
• An insight into vulnerability and why the
disaster had the impact that it did;
• An assessment of what makes buildings safe or
vulnerable to particular types of disaster;
• The likelihood of other types of disasters
occurring in the area and an awareness of safe/
unsafe locations;
• The particular design features or technologies
that reduce the risk of damage or collapse of
• How to implement and maintain these features
in ways that are cost-effective;
• How living in safer housing and safer
settlements can help people recover their
livelihoods quicker in case of another disaster;
• How communities that are well organised and
prepared for disasters are affected less and can
recover quicker.
• Where communities can find important
information on their reconstruction options,
administrative procedures, selection criteria,
land certification and other housing related
How to communicate?
Rather than spreading information in a prescriptive
way, it is preferable to opt for participatory
communication. This involves a two-way process
that encourages feedback from the audience,
stimulating them to learn from each other as well
as the presenters. Furthermore, in participatory
learning, anyone can question ideas, which helps to
cross-check and create stronger solutions, as well
as increasing their understanding and acceptance.
Participatory communication may take longer
than prescriptive communication which may be
problematic within tight reconstruction timeframes,
but in the long run it is more worthwhile.
Finding out how people communicate and
through what media is important too. Do they
obtain information almost completely by word-of-
mouth, or are other media such as the radio, mobile
telephones or community notice boards important
as well? Who are the informants that people trust
and go to for information? Who are the informants
from organisations and outside the community
and in what form do they make their information
available? Getting a clear picture of information
flows can help later to develop appropriate
information resources and channels to improve the
process of building back better.
The assistance of community leaders, artisan
builders, CBOs and other key informants can be
very useful to disseminate messages on safer
building to the wider community. On-site visits,
demonstration sessions, manuals, films and
DVDs, and discussions with technical specialists
can help these informants to get the necessary
knowledge about the causes and consequences of
disasters and how to mitigate them. They can then
disseminate key messages to the wider community
and also be involved in the production or use of
information and communication materials used in
dissemination. In several development projects,
Practical Action has worked with groups producing
participatory video. Here, representatives use video
to describe problems in their communities and how
they could be solved providing powerful media for
convincing peer groups. In recent disasters, the use
of SMSs and telephone enquiry services has also
been extremely far-reaching and effective.
Appropriate communication methods
The production of effective information
and communication materials is not always
straightforward as people from different cultural
backgrounds may interpret visual and verbal
expressions differently. This can be addressed by
Oral forms of communication such as street drama (left) or song (right), in this case as part of an early warning campaign
for floods in Nepal often work better for people with low literacy or education levels.