Following Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines in November 2013 all radio and TV stations were off the air in Tacloban City, the “ground Zero” area of the disaster. FIRST Response Radio (Philippines), a member of CDAC (Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities) arrived on Day 5 and by the next day had an emergency radio station on 98.7FM broadcasting from the top of City Hall, which ran for 6 weeks.
While it is known through anecdotal evidence that communication is vital to help disaster affected communities survive and recover, independent research is key for monitoring and evaluation. Following Typhoon Haiyan Karin Hugelius of Orebro University completed 3 separate, but related studies that measure what was accomplished and the positive impact on the affected community.
“It was a kind of silence that is deafening. And the radio broke through it, someway. The music and to hear another voice, in the middle of the night. That made me able to hang in there for one night more.....”
The first study evaluated the content broadcast by FRR (i.e. encouragement, physical health, mental health, distribution of relief items etc) over the first few weeks of the emergency phase; the second focus groups study asked what value members of the affected community got from the station and the final study made a statistically significant A/B comparison 30 months after the typhoon, between those members of the community who had access to this Emergency Radio broadcast, and those who did not. The results of the final study show a significant mental and physical health benefit to those who listened to this emergency radio station. These studies are published separately in professional journals and also combined into the PhD dissertation published by Örebro University. **
Training radio staff, humanitarian agencies and government organizations to liaise with disaster relief coordinators and make appropriate programs for disaster affected communities is what FIRST Response Radio does. It truly is LIFE GIVING AND LIFE CHANGING!
** Disaster Response for Recovery. Karin Hugelius