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AMARC and PPF mission makes key recommendations for disaster response

(AMARC/PPF/IFEX) - Islamabad, October 9, 2010 - The international assessment mission organized by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) called on the government of Pakistan to allow the establishment of at least 30 non-commercial flood-relief radio stations through community-based organistions in the severely affected districts.

These were the key recommendations of an international assessment mission carried out between 30 September and 10 October 2010. The mission visited flood-hit communities in Thatta District (Sindh), Muzaffargarh District (Punjab), and Charsadda/Nowshera (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). The mission was supported by BHN Foundation, Radio FMYY and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The international mission team included experts from UK, Japan and Indonesia.

The principle observations and findings of the mission were that while existing FM local radios are playing an important role in flood response, there are gaps in the provision of relevant local information in some of the severely and moderately affected communities which are unlikely to be met on a commercial basis. In light of these findings, the international assessment mission recommended the establishment of flood-relief radio stations in locations not served by existing local FM radio services.

In addition, the mission recommended that support be provided to existing local FM radios to continue their vital work of providing information and voice for flood-affected communities. That could be at a community level to capture the voices and experiences of flood-hit communities and to develop community correspondents among the affected communities. The mission also recommended that work be undertaken at the provincial level with media, NGO and governmental stakeholders to raise awareness of the role of community media in disaster response and to engage in policy dialogue.

AMARC is working with PPF to develop a plan of action to support the humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction effort, with a focus on voice and access to information at the community level for people in the affected communities, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised.

The international assessment mission was framed by growing international experience of community radio in humanitarian communications, disaster response and reconstruction. Community radio stations under the ownership, control and management of local communities and operated on a non-commercial basis have proven to be of particular importance in strengthening the voices and access to information of disaster-affected communities. Community radios have played a key role in disaster response in Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Haiti and many other countries.

Devastating floods in Pakistan have left more than 2,000 people dead and more than a million homes destroyed since the flooding began in July 2010. The United Nations estimates that more than 20 million people have been affected by the flooding, and have described it as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent human history.

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