Communities affected by the Nepal Earthquake need information to be more effective organizing their own response, taking life-saving actions at household level, accessing humanitarian assistance and providing feedback on challenges and gaps. Key communications needs are the provision of lifesaving information to those affected (such as self-treatments for illnesses/injury, home techniques for water purification, hazard warnings on returning home safely,etc), particularly those out of reach of conventional assistance, and emergency restoration of the communications infrastructure. A common feedback loop for the United Nations and other humanitarian partners, with an ability to independently verify assistance requests and complaints is essential for humanitarian partners to be accountable in their aid delivery while meeting the information and communication needs of the affected population.
Failure to meet the information needs of the affected communities is likely to lead to frustration and anger among affected communities, a backlash against national and international responders leading to confusion and misunderstandings about the nature of aid, escalation of rumors, inequity (especially if those who feel they have been missed out are not able to inquire if they are eligible for assistance). Communications is also a key psychosocial service, helping to reassure people that help is available and that they have not been forgotten. The communications needs of those in affected areas is an overarching priority, as these survivors are not only harder to reach and in danger of marginalization, but also are in need of self-help information, such as home treatment for medical issues for those who cannot travel to a clinic, and advice on safe treatment for water.
It is also essential that communications is a two way process, including the capacity to listen, respond and engage in dialogue (for example, interviews, focus group discussions, town hall meetings, radio call-in programmes, and humanitarian information hotlines) rather than just seen as one way and top-down message delivery. Only 57.4% of Nepalese are literate and the rate is even lower in rural areas so verbal communication means, such as community dialogue, radio call-in programmes, and humanitarian information hotlines are essential. Communication will need to be accessible in Nepali and Newari and local language communication is critical in the foothills of Kathmanduk Bhaktapur and Gorkha areas.
The project will utilize the full range of platforms and channels to share information and listen to affected communities. This includes:
• Face-to-face communication
• Help desks and suggestion boxes
• Voice calls and SMS through a Humanitarian Call Centre
• Community noticeboards and flyers
• Radio programming
• Social media (online mapping)
This will include providing a common (digital) mechanism for collecting and filtering community feedback. This will triangulate and route incoming information through the online platform with the capability to filter and map the data.
The project requires $500,000 USD in funding and is also looking for technical partners who can support with media and communications outreach, data collection and analysis, translation and interpretation and other key functions.
For more information: Stewart Davies, Regional Communications with Communities Officer,
OCHA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org mobile (Nepal): +977 9860 88 9205.