UN holds round-table discussion with media on disaster

06 Nov 2013 15:50pm
WINDHOEK, 06 NOV (NAMPA) - A round-table discussion on communicating humanitarian information and disaster organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) kicked off on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening of the event, country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Babagana Ahmadu said the event is meant to familiarise the UN family and stakeholders, including the media, of the UN Action Plan on Disaster-Risk Reduction and Resilience.
It was also to prepare community radio practitioners to report on disaster risk reduction issues at community level.
Ahmadu was speaking on behalf of UN Resident Coordinator Musinga Bandora.
“This is a pertinent time for this round-table, where ideas can be traded and workshopped. Communicating in disasters necessitates an open mind, willingness to accept weaknesses and celebrate strengths, and to always keep the affected population at the heart of what we do,” he noted.
The UN adopted the UN Plan of Action on Disaster-Risk Reduction and Resilience in April 2013 to accelerate the integration of disaster-risk reduction in all UN country-level operations in response to the rising levels of disruption to millions of lives each year from disasters.
The UN has a central and unique role to play in providing leadership to and co-ordinating the efforts of the international community to support disaster-affected countries.
The UN plays a key role in advocating for strong co-ordination mechanisms, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, together with predictable funding and underpinned by partnerships. These are key components of the humanitarian architecture.
“As the UN, we cannot afford to work alone. Harmonised humanitarian activities, both in the preparedness and response phases, are the difference between success and failure. As a result, communicating effectively in times of emergencies is the way in which we will ensure that communities are serviced, partners are identified and strengths championed,” he added.
At the same occasion, Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)’s Namibia Chapter, Natasha Tibinyane highlighted the important role played by community radio, which she described as an agenda-setter, watchdog and having the role of informing, educating and entertaining.
However, the lack of access to information is hampering media freedom in Namibia, although the local media is relatively free, compared to other countries in Africa, she noted.
“We need to continue to lobby for free access to information,” she added.
The round-table discussion ends on Thursday.