IMPROVING COMMUNICATION WITH CRISIS-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
October 22, 2012 | 0 Comment
What will be different when the next disaster hits Haiti?
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti gave rise to several
communications initiatives that helped the local population to deal with the
catastrophe and seek assistance from aid agencies.
To find out how effective two-way communication could
mitigate the impact of future disasters in this earthquake and hurricane-prone
country, see infoasaid’s new Haiti Media and Telecoms Landscape Guide.
Radio 1 painting, Ann Kite Yo Pale
Radio and mobile telephony are still the most effective
channels for reaching people quickly in this poor Caribbean nation of nine
Nearly every adult has a mobile phone and 19 out of 20
Haitians listen to the radio.
But only a third of the population has access to television
and very few Haitians ever see a newspaper.
The internet is only within reach of a small, educated and
relatively affluent minority of town dwellers.
The infoasaid guide to Haiti contains a comprehensive list
of the country’s 375 radio stations. It shows who is on air in each province
The guide also profiles the largest and most popular radio
and TV networks and gives contact details for them.
Dominating the ratings are Caraïbes FM and Radio Ginen, two
popular radio stations in the capital Port –au-Prince, whose programmes are
widely relayed round the entire country.
However, survey evidence indicates that outside the capital
people often prefer to tune in to local FM stations for news about developments
that affect their lives directly.
Dealing with a plethora of small stations in isolated towns
and villages is a logistical nightmare for aid agencies.
However, steady consolidation within Haiti’s crowded media
sector could soon lead to the emergence of larger groups of popular radio stations
that combine a core schedule of nationally networked programming with local
When it comes to mobile communications, the dominant network
operator in Haiti is Digicel. Having swallowed its nearest rival Voila in March
2012, Digicel now has a massive 80% share of the local market.
The media in Haiti is very free, largely due to an absence
of government regulation.
This has led to an overcrowding of the air waves by many
small radio and TV stations that are unlikely to
survive in the long term.
Meagre resources and low pay mean that standards of
professionalism in the media are generally quite low and corruption is rife.
Copyrights are ignored. Many small provincial radio stations
pick up and rebroadcast programmes from the larger more professional stations
in Port-au-Prince without authorisation.
And most TV stations broadcast a steady diet of programmes
pirated from foreign satellite channels.
Aid agencies can usually persuade stations to broadcast
whatever messages or programming they wish to put on air – so long as they pay
for the privilege.
To find out how successfully aid agencies used the media as a tool to deliver vital information and facilitate aid delivery following the 2010 earthquake, see infoasaid’s study “Ann Kite Yo Pale - Best practice and lessons learned in communication with disaster affected communities: Haiti 2010”.