#RadioSavesLives: why disaster preparation must include radio
by Kristine Pearson
Survivors of humanitarian crises are forced to leave their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. That’s true for Syrians escaping conflict, for families fleeing to a shelter before a typhoon strikes or bolting from a house during an earthquake. Suddenly displaced, proud hardworking people lose everything and require help for the most basic of needs: food, water, medicine and shelter. And no less important is the need for information.
Radio reaches people and stops rumours
No other medium is as powerful and as important during times of crises than radio. Radio saves lives.
Radio speaks to people in a language they understand. It’s an effective way to inform, in the quickest possible time. Radio disseminates critical messages to survivors and helps humanitarian organisations with a coordinated response on the ground. In any emergency, rumours are rife, making the need for accurate and trusted information all the more important.
Natural disasters may not discriminate between rich or poor, yet the poor suffer far greater loss. They lose the few assets they own, don’t have insurance, may already have health problems, and their country often lacks the infrastructure necessary to deliver aid efficiently.
Working in emergency situations
For nearly 17 years, Lifeline Energy has been involved in many humanitarian emergencies – the Mozambique floods of 2000 (pictured), the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, the Pakistan floods, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Nepal earthquake, and the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
These calamities alone have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than a hundred million people. In each instance we’ve provided our radios to displaced populations. In some disasters we’ve been on the ground and in others we’ve worked through local aid organisations and international relief agencies.
Why solar plus wind-up power is essential
In an emergency, having a solar radio that winds up is essential. Offering displaced populations devices dependent on costly disposable batteries is not sustainable. One also cannot underestimate the psycho-social support that music provides. In the Japanese tsunami, locals wanted status updates on the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant and its radiation levels.
One of the reasons that we created our new MP3-enabled Lifeplayer is for emergencies. Children can be organised immediately around lessons in their own language. Given its excellent sound quality, the Lifeplayer easily accommodates 40 or more listeners. Radio broadcasts can be recorded for listening later and people can record their own stories of their survival for generations to come.
Preparing for the next emergency
When a humanitarian disaster strikes, we’re immediately contacted by a host of relief organisations, the UN, corporates wanting to help or even national governments – all asking for our products right away. Lifeline Energy understandably cannot tie up its funds in inventory for disasters.
For years we’ve done our best to persuade large donors to fund a stockpile that would allow our products to arrive as soon as possible and not weeks later when vital information needs have been unmet and more lives may have been lost. Major aid depots are located in Dubai, Panama, Italy, Hong Kong and other cities around the world, which make dispatching goods a fairly straightforward process.
Lifeline Energy stands ready to work with others around the world to share our conviction to increase our disaster preparedness for the next humanitarian emergency, wherever that may be.