Information IS humanitarian aid. Fear grows in a vacuum of information.
"You did not distribute food, not clothes, nor any other materials to the flood victims, but what you have done for the flood victims is greater than others did (SMS message received by a First Response Radio team after the floods in Bihar)".
First Response Radio has developed the Critical Information Matrix to ensure they provide the right humanitarian information at the right time.
The first phase of a disaster is the most crucial for delivering life-saving information. This information needs to cover all the following UN cluster group categories: Disaster News, Shelter, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Food & Nutrition, Health (Physical and Mental), Protection, Livelihood and Education.
First Response Radio teams do not aim to remain for the long term. Usually they will stay on-air for about a month, in the emergency phase and into the second phase of the disaster.
While Broadcasters are already skilled at their job, they need to learn to work within the humanitarian community to be truly effective. In the same way, government and humanitarian volunteers need to learn the basics of radio.
The training starts with a 5 day classroom-based workshop which combines background knowledge about radio with the unique environment experienced in disaster relief work. Participants, (from broadcast, NGO and government backgrounds) , are taught about making radio programmes specifically geared to disaster, about the phases of disaster and the effects it has on those involved. They are trained in setting up and using the "Radio in a Suitcase" equipment and advised about ways to stay safe in the field. The training is practical and hands-on. There will be daily homework and assignments where the participants put into practice what they have learned.
This is followed by a 3 day Field Trial when participants are taken to an area which has suffered a recent disaster. It is designed to provide students with an experience as close as possible to a real disaster, where they will produce live, disaster related radio for 72 hours.
First Response Radio training provides a team with the experience necessary to travel to a disaster area to set up a radio station and broadcast essential information to the affected community. Trained teams have the confidence and ability to work in field conditions and record radio messages that help provide critical information for a community that is recovering from a disaster/emergency.