Information, a basic need in Zambo rehabilitation efforts PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 November 2013 11:09

While Zamboanga City is moving towards the early recovery phase after the crisis that lasted 23 days last September and displaced thousands of people from their homes, there is a need to step up communication efforts, particularly to create a strong feedback mechanism where information is shared between the displaced persons and the government and non-government service providers.

“In communicating (with the displaced), we have to ask ourselves: Swak ba yung ating ibinibigay? (Are we giving exact information?)” asked Malou Eudela, humanitarian affairs assistant for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) during a media seminar held here Saturday. UN-OCHA is currently working with the city government of Zamboanga, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other agencies in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts for the IDPs.

Ms. Eudela added that there have been many instances of miscommunication in cases such as the one Zamboanga had experienced, and it brought about severe consequences.

“As a result of miscommunication, the people experience disillusionment, basically for the non-delivery of the services that they need and expect,” she said. “In worst cases, this may lead to angst.”

“The responses and services provided to them should be guided by their feedback,” she added.

On the other hand, Sheila Covarrubias, city information officer said: “Communication, like food is a basic need. Information is at par with any other social services provided to the people.”

“The lack of information or misuse of it can lead to misunderstanding,” she stressed.

In light of this information need, the Communicating with Disaster-Affected Communities (CDAC) Working Group, or CWG was established, which is composed of the City Information Office (CIO), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and the different agencies involved in the rehabilitation like the DSWD. More helping hands came through various other organizations including the UN-OCHA, the UNICEF, Save the Children and other international non-government organizations.

The CWG has been developing localized IEC materials for the IDPs’ consumption which will respond to their information and communication needs. It has been conducting studies on how best to establish a feedback mechanism between the IDPs and their service providers. Moreover, the CWG has been closely coordinating with each other through weekly meetings, and with the private media through press briefings.

In the seminar conducted last Saturday, approximately 30 media personalities, information officers including those from the police and military, and campus journalists were oriented on the rehabilitation efforts of the city government. They were briefed on laws pertaining to handling gender and child sensitive stories.

Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar said “if we are going to build back Zamboanga, it has got to be a better one. But this can only be achieved if those who are at the forefront of information speak with one voice.”

Mayor Climaco participated in a coordinated sharing of information among the communication practitioners.