Among various aspects of Disaster Management, "communication" is one of the most critical requirement. The word "communicate" implies conveying of thoughts, ideas, warnings., instructions, orders, command, knowledge and information. In the context of disaster management, fail-safe communication is vital during a wide range of actions, from the significant phase of "preparedness" to impart knowledge and information (mass education and public awareness), warning of impending threat of disaster, calling various resources and intimation to authorities and conducting disaster management in general.
COMMUNICATION: MEANING AND CONCEPT:
The word "communication" holds a very significant place in all walks of human life. A person is an element of society, nation and the world and cannot live his or her in isolation. He or she has to interact with his or her fellow human beings.
There are two distinct facets of communication, One is the physical one where we use a variety of means using ever progressing technology. Due to modern technology and use of Satellites we broadcast television programmes all over the world. Satellite phones and internet have added new dimensions to global and almost instantaneous communication. Thus there is no lacking of any type of Hi-Tech. means to communicate. Media (print and electronic) serve as credible and influential agents of communication.
The other aspect which is far more important is the conceptual one. It is necessary to ensure that recipient of communication understands the contents of the message being conveyed and that he responds to it in the desired manner. This apparently simple requirement carries behind it Herculean efforts of thorough knowledge, clarity and conciseness. The originator must realize the capacity and capability of the receiver to appreciate the message and to react correctly. Thus, content and clarity have to be the essential features of the message being communicated. The content has to be specific, to the point, brief and couched in simple, understandable and clear language with no ambiguity. Thus in its modern concept "communication" transcends its traditional meaning of transmission of message but includes the quality of the message itself especially the content, conciseness and comprehensibility.
SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNICATION IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION :
Whenever we talk of "Disaster" we invariably imply the following distinct phases:
(a) Preventive and preparedness measures for ensuring minimum adverse effects,
(b) Follow up actions in the event of occurrence of a Disaster, to handle the "Aftermath" and make all efforts to mitigate - i.e.. to minimize to reduce eventual losses/damage to Life and Property.
Unless we have "Communication" at its best in all the required forms we will not be in a position to deal with the above phases to our entire satisfaction. In the aftermath of a disaster, time counts and efficient communication at all levels decides the success of all efforts. It is therefore essential to critically examine the role - and need - of communication. The discussion that follows will critically examine the same in the above mentioned phases.
Communication during the phase of Preventive Measures :
An in-depth study of all probable causes of disasters likely to occur in the area is to be made, identifying all likely sources of disaster.
This is the most important phase. The state of Preparedness is to be reached to maximum efficiency to be effective. In this phase, all resources -their types and strength - are worked out, identified and are placed "on call" whenever situation so warrants. This phase requires high degree of dedication and...