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DBS – Disaster warning workshop “a tremendous opportunity” to share information

Broadcasters from around the region are meeting in Malaysia to build upon a regional disaster warning system.

They are attending a two-day workshop on Emergency Warnings and Disaster Risk Reduction Broadcasting, an initiative by the ABU and the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The ABU Disaster Risk Reduction Broadcast Media Initiative project aims to establish broadcasters and their networks as a party in the work of national disaster management systems in countries at risk.

Project Consultant Walter Welz told the workshop in Kuala Lumpur that each of the project countries was at different stages of early warning and early warning broadcasting.

“Our objective is not to bring every country to the same level but rather to further develop the capacity of each of the project countries,” he said. “But because each country is at a different level, there are tremendous opportunities for sharing experience, knowledge and expertise.”

The first day of the workshop on 8 March 2013 scheduled several sessions with a variety of presenters from throughout the region sharing their expertise and experiences. The second day is set aside for induction briefings for broadcasters new to the scheme.

The organisers say it is not enough for governments and disaster warning agencies to provide information to the media. Broadcasters in particular need to develop fast and effective ways of getting that message to their audiences and – just as important – the population must have receivers able to pick up warnings as they are transmitted.

“The broadcasters role in Early Warning and Disaster Risk Reduction requires an understanding of two different perspectives”, says Russell Isaac, Director of SMS and ABU project consultant.

“There is a necessity is to form a link between NGOs and Government bodies so that media participation comes in a positive and inventive manner. The media has to take on a responsibility and be proactive in their approach rather than reactive. If they only react, lives will already have been lost! The aims of the media and the organisations concerned need to be mutually understood and continually re-stressed,” Mr Isaac added.