Reaching Every Voice: Tailoring Emergency Messages and Channels for Vulnerable Populations

The Eastern Caribbean islands of Barbados and Dominica increasingly face the devastating impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes including Erma and Maria in Dominica in 2017 causing death and destruction, multi hazard emergencies such as flooding, hurricane, volcanic ash from a neighboring island, and the COVID 19 pandemic as occurred in 2020 and 2021 in Barbados. Their size and location render them vulnerable due to climate change, while their information environments are generally weak and susceptible to mis and disinformation, making it challenging for citizens to access good information necessary to make informed decisions, particularly during crises. Internews piloted a project funded by Clara Lionel foundation (CLF) in 2020, to assess the role of local information ecosystems in building the necessary resilience to disasters. The IEA highlighted the lack of preparedness of citizens due to varying factors including gaps in pre and post disaster information from authorities and media, and outdated, inoperable or non-integrative disaster communications equipment and services.

In response to gaps in emergency communications for marginalized communities, Internews under the 2023/24 Building Community resilience through Emergency Communications and Preparedness Project, developed with local research firm, Research Matters, an emergency communication guide for civil society and journalists on how to communicate effectively with vulnerable groups during disasters.

About the Guide:

Reaching every voice explores best practices for facilitating the delivery of timely, accurate, consistent, clear, and actionable information to vulnerable populations in Barbados during times of an emergency, crisis, or disaster. It is a valuable resource for groups involved in public communication during such times, inclusive of:

  • Civil society organizations
  • Disaster management personnel
  • Media personnel
  • Community leaders
  • NGOs
  • Churches
  • Schools

The guidelines will strengthen information delivery to vulnerable populations including persons living with disabilities, provide safe access to emergency information and use of multiple communication channels.