A cacophony of songs and radio reports drift from the tented camp; thousands of radios are providing entertainment and, more importantly, information. A UNICEF Public Service Announcement on nutrition blares out of several radios tuned into Port-au-Prince's Radio One. The station is one of many that work with Internews, an organization that is distributing information to earthquake victims.
You’re watching UNICEF Television. Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, lies hidden under a cloud of dust. A massive relief effort is underway, but without information, the aid is useless to many of those most in need. But UNICEF and other aid organizations have been working with Internews to distribute valuable information to the country’s devastated population.
In any emergency, the first priority is the delivery of critical aid. But communities need more than that: they also need information. It’s critical for them to know where they can get water, where they can get certain facilities, how to access those medical centers. Is it safe to go home? Where is my family? How can I get in touch with the people I love? That’s why information is critical and why information can save lives.
Working with local journalists, the organization produces daily radio programs relevant to the disaster-affected communities. Johnny is one of these journalists. Each day he takes to the streets and in this case, the camps of displaced, to find out what the challenges are and whether people are getting the help they need.
JOHNNY CESAR [Journalist, Internews]
Today I went to one of the biggest camps in Port-au-Prince. We’re trying to find out how these people are living, are they able to get food, and are they able to get water. That was the story here for today.
Internews works with 23 radio stations in Port-au-Prince that together cover the entire country. The daily radio show is packaged alongside public service announcements from UNICEF and other organizations.
ELIZABETH AUGUSTIN [UNICEF Communications for Development, Haiti]
This is an opportunity for us to gather information on health, mostly for hygiene, also HIV/AIDS, to remind people about HIV/AIDS prevention and what they can do to get their medication and also nutrition, especially for breastfeeding. So we’ve been sharing our messages that we prepared with the Ministry of Health, and they broadcast them for us freely.
CDs are printed and the programs delivered by hand to radio stations and hit the airwaves within minutes. To ensure the information is received, Internews is distributing thousands of handheld radios to the same radio stations that broadcast their show. The stations in turn sign an agreement to distribute the radios to those most in need; women-headed households and people displaced by the quake. The radios are wind up, solar powered, can be tuned in to multiple frequencies, and double as a torch, which means those living in the camps, those that have lost everything, will always be able to tune in.
We see that in many camps, around the tents, people are using the small radio now to get the show.
As clearing and reconstruction efforts begin, it is vital that those who have survived the quake get the information and thus the help they need to survive the next step. This is Guy Hubbard reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.