Radiocommunication Study Groups

Public service efforts by broadcasters associated with emergency and disaster situations

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Public service efforts by broadcasters associated with emergency and disaster situations

Over the past decade, there have been numerous examples of international, state, private and NGO‑sponsored broadcasters running special programming for people affected by humanitarian emergencies. In many cases, such initiatives have taken the form of a spontaneous reaction to a rapid-onset emergency. Relatively few broadcasting organisations actively plan for such contingencies.

Internews has been active in setting up local radio stations to serve people affected by humanitarian disasters. It has worked particularly with communities affected by conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia and Chad.

First Response Radio specialises in the rapid deployment of suitcase radios to communities suffering the impact of natural disasters. It was the first organisation to get a radio station back on air in Banda Aceh in Indonesia after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The emergency response role of Danish-based IMS mainly consists of supporting local media in countries affected by conflict. IMS runs a humanitarian radio service for Somalia, called Radio Ergo ( This broadcasts on short wave from studios in Nairobi and also distributes its programmes to Somali FM partner stations for re-broadcast.

Many other international media development NGOs, such as Free Press Unlimited, IREX, Equal Access, Search for Common Ground and the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, also provide humanitarian programming to disaster-affected communities, particularly those affected by conflict. However, they mostly operate long-term projects. They have not so far developed a niche role as rapid responders to a breaking crisis.

The radio networks set up by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in countries where UN peacekeeping forces have been deployed, generally carry humanitarian programming for disaster-affected communities as a core part of their output. Radio Okapi ( in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Radio Miraya ( in South Sudan, both of which were established in partnership with the Swiss-based Foundation Hirondelle (, are prominent examples of well-established UN radio stations that carry a large amount of humanitarian content in their broadcasts.

The following Annex provides further examples of public service efforts by broadcasters associated with emergency and disaster situations:

  • Annex 7A: BBC Media Action - Public service efforts by broadcasters.

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