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ABU helps disaster warning and recovery work in Myanmar

The ABU has helped to bring together media and disaster response agencies in Myanmar to improve systems and skills for dealing with disasters in the country.

The workshop on Emergency Warnings and Communications for Disaster Risk Reduction was jointly organised in Yangon on May 19-20, 2014, with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and hosted by the Forever Group, Myanmar.

Eighteen people from eight organisations took part, including MTV4, the national broadcaster of Myanmar, a number of FM radio stations, the Forever Group and representatives of the National Meteorology Department, the Red Cross and the Fire Rescue Service.

Media consultant Mr Russell Isaac said the first day of the two-day event established the need to bring all the parties together to up-date and amend practices currently in place.

“A lack of organisational coherence and cooperation was identified from all the participants with particular concern being voiced regarding the Standard Operational Procedures required to implement emergency warnings to the wider public,” he said.

The second day attempted to address some of the identified weaknesses by looking at the role of broadcasters in engaging with their audiences before, during and after natural disasters. The theory of building a reliable link between broadcasters that could lead to speedy and accurate warnings and messages was accepted as the basis for future development and as a potential framework to help save lives in the future.

“The Red Cross and Fire Rescue representatives enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to work closer with the broadcasters on future projects that would involve community training and awareness campaigns,” Mr Isaac said. “Potential story-lines, program ideas and networking links were established that should result in an increased awareness of EWB [Emergency Warning Broadcasts], not only from the perspective of the broadcasters but from NGOs and Government departments alike.”      

The Yangon workshop was the latest in the ABU/ESCAP workshop series for EWB and DRR Communications, an initiative designed to bring broadcasters, government departments and all other relevant parties to work together on coherent and integrated procedures that deal with emergencies and natural disasters.

The next phase of this series includes workshops in Sri Lanka, Nanjing and the Philippines by mid-June.