Friday, March 28, 2014

Bohol pilots new “aid” in 
communication with communities
Rey Anthony H. Chiu

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 24 (PIA) –An international humanitarian aid group finds communications with communities (CWC) in disaster situations, similar to food and shelter relief, and works on a partnership strategy to get this critical aid streaming. 

International Organization of Migration (IOM) partners with Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Bohol to empower people through information and have these information known in communities. 

The partnership leads to the conduct of a capacity-building forum and workshop on how to establish a system for information and communication with affected communities in times of disaster and displacement. 

The plan was to capacitate a network of information officers from the towns and the national agencies in Bohol, with Capitols EdCom, and international humanitarian organizations on the two identified communication engagement strategies that would be high on the people’s preference. 

At the workshop, international help groups discussed the degree of their help engagements in Bohol for information officers to reecho the messages. 

The workshop also involves the conduct of focused group discussions (FGD) on key shelter and evacuation issues, get them on air and produce information materials out of these, organizers said. 

Five months after the earthquake that displaced hundreds of thousands of Boholanos into evacuation sites, many still do not know what's next for them. 

Very few local government officials categorically tell them what fate has for them in camps, and national help agencies could only tell as much. 

“People in camps who have heard reports of government housing and shelter aid coming kept asking, how long do they have to stay in already dilapidated tents before they can get to a new temporary house?” an information officer from one Bohol town asked.

“Relevant and accurate information empowers and frees communities from the bounds of dependence,” she says, but here, “not much is getting down.” 

International humanitarian groups also noted the same in their separate surveys.

A Data Tracking Matrix of IOM indicated that while people get most information from government, their main questions on food and shelter remain largely vague and few information trickles to them. 

In earlier statements, IOM communications expert Christie Joy Bacal said there has to be a way to get the information to the people to calm them. 

Amid the sorry state of information gaps that stop crucial data from getting down to communities, IOM also believes the mayors could not be blamed for they have all the relocation and rehabilitation tasks.

PIA-Bohol and IOM then sat down to find ways to bring information down to the grassroots in the hope of engaging communities to meet with government and international help groups. 

The initial strategy was to bring the FGDs to the camps, and then work out from there, revealed Bacal, who also traces her roots from Bohol. (mbcn/rahc/PIA7-Bohol)

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