Media houses across Barbados have signalled their intention to provide valuable and credible information to the public before, during, and after a disaster.
As Barbados prepares for what is anticipated to be another active hurricane season, media houses joined forces with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), the Public Affairs Department (PAD), the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), and the Barbados Meteorological Services (MET Office), to ensure the public is properly informed about disasters likely to affect the island.
On Wednesday, representatives from all media houses, along with their governmental partners, came together at the DEM to launch the Media Sensitisation Campaign, under the theme: Your Voices in the Storm: Credible, Factual and Reliable.
Acting Chief Information Officer of the BGIS, Ian Inniss, stated that the launch showed the commitment of participating agencies to continue educating the public about disasters, facilitating discussions about disaster preparedness and response, and giving the right information at the right time in order to save life and property, all the while building a more resilient Barbados.
“We are all partners in disaster management. The fact is that in any disaster, communication is critical to rescue, response and recovery efforts. The media provides that direct link between the public and emergency operations and is key to sharing information prior to, during, and after disasters. The media is key to disaster management,” he said.
Mr. Inniss further noted that gone are the days when the concept of a natural disaster was something that happened “over and away”. “Now, nearly everyone in Barbados could speak first hand of having experienced a natural event of some sort,” he added.
Citing Hurricane Janet in 1955, the earthquakes of 2007 and 2014 that were felt in Barbados, and last year’s events of ash fall following the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the freak storm, and Hurricane Elsa on July 2, Mr. Inniss said the public was made aware of them all through the media.
While commending the initiative, DEM Director, Kerry Hinds, said it was important that the public recognised the partnership and collaboration and take note of the preferred sources of credible disaster risk management information.
“It is important that we share disaster risk knowledge for the public’s benefit, and in so doing ensure that the public understands and acts on this knowledge to enhance their readiness and preparedness efforts as well as your overall circumstances when dealing with multiple hazards and risks,” she stated.
She underscored the importance of communicating hazard, risk and vulnerability information to the populace. “In today’s world, we have many conduits and platforms by which we can share invaluable information in ways which cater to the many segments or groups in the population.
“As we brace ourselves for what is predicted to be another active Atlantic Hurricane Season, we thought it prudent and beneficial to all to harness the resources of the emergency management, information and media communities to ensure that the public has the most up-to-date, reliable and accurate information that is required to make the best-informed decisions on how to protect themselves, family, property and communities,” she stated.
Ms. Hinds further noted that a better-informed community resulted in safer communities.