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< prev - next > Disaster response mitigation and rebuilding Reconstruction KnO 100449_IFRC_Tools_9 (Printable PDF)
Women in Nepal making a participatory video as part of
an early flood warning campaign
pre-testing any visual materials or verbal messages
with a selection of the target audience to ensure
that they are well understood. In pre-testing the
fieldworker uses draft information materials.
The purpose of the pre-testing is explained to a
selection of local people, who are then asked what
they understand of the materials. If misunderstand
or confused, the messages are then explained
and their opinions sought on how to improve
the presentations. However, even if a particular
message works in one place, there is no guarantee
it will work in another. Cross-checking is always
useful to ensure that people have understood
messages in the manner intended by the informant.
Staff from local agencies such as NGOs can
often be helpful in advising what communication
media or combination of media to use in order to
reach local communities. They may also have the
required skills to draft presentations and visual
materials to disseminate safer building. Media can
• Pictures and posters
• Slide shows
• Videos, Films and DVDs presented through
social networks (global ones such as YouTube,
or local ones such as community resources
• Drama and stage shows
• Puppetry
• Song and dance
• Radio and television
• Brochures, manuals, guidelines and newsletters
• Community notice-boards
• Loudspeaker announcements
• Websites, web forums, ‘Google-groups’ and
social networks
• Meetings and discussions
• Peer exchanges
• Presentations using visual aids and flip charts
• Models
• Demonstration buildings
• Construction training
• SMSs and telephone enquiry services
It is not possible to state with certainty what
media will work better to get information across.
That is because post-disaster contexts and target
groups vary greatly, and what works for one group
may be less effective with another. But there are
some lessons from past experience:
1. Often, a combination of media and messages is
needed to raise awareness and highlight specific
design or construction details; this requires
having a clear idea of the ‘outreach strategy’ and
2. Information materials need to provide simple
straightforward messages. Information materials
need to be culturally sensitive. Drawings of
builders as characters need to show generic
features of the country or area, but without too
much detail.
3. The quality of the presentation materials is
important too. Photographs, for instance, should
not show too much of the image in shade or
over-exposed. Details need to be clearly seen
thus photos should be taken from a suitable
distance. Drawings should be prepared by a
competent artist or draughtsperson. The plans,
sections and views of buildings that architects
and engineers tend to use may be difficult for
home owners and local builders to understand;
a three-dimensional representation or model
that realistically shows perspective often works
4. It can be useful to compare good and bad
practice, or true and false assumptions, but care
needs to be taken how that is done (tick boxes,
emoticons etc may be understood differently).
Images should preferably represent reality.
Cartoons and photo-novelas, thought and speech
bubbles, and abstractions need to be used
according to the target audience (urban/rural,
literate/illiterate, younger/older, men/woman/
children etc).
5. The more frequently messages are repeated
the more likely it is that they will be widely
comprehended. Different media can be used to
reinforce messages and to encourage discussion
amongst people and with facilitators as this
can help to reach a better understanding.
The use of visual or written messages needs
to reflect literacy levels. Care should be
taken that disadvantaged people in the target
audience are not further marginalised by using
messages that are inappropriate for their level
of comprehension. With audiences of mixed
literacy abilities it is best to read out any text
that accompanies pictures before going on to