15.10.2010 -

UNESCO supports natural disaster training for Haitian journalists

UNESCO and the Organisation for Haitian Journalists (known under the French acronym, AJH) have organized a training programme for 380 journalists from Port-au-Prince and nine other Haitian counties, with the support of the Haitian Department of Civil Protection. The three-day programme aims to prepare journalists to better communicate pertinent information in cases of natural disaster.

Initiated in August 2010, the training programme has already benefitted 200 journalists in eight counties in Haiti (Fort Liberté, Cap Haïtien, Saint Marc, Gonaïve, Hinche et Mirebalais, Jacmel, Miragoane, and Jeremie).

 

"The training programme equips journalists with the skills necessary for sensitising populations to natural disasters," explains Jacques Desrosier, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Haitian Journalists. "Following the earthquake on 12 January, journalists realised that a better informed population would facilitate appropriate action in the case of a natural disaster. The earthquake brought everything to the ground, there were no transport links, the telephone networks were down. The only form of communication that was working was the radio. It is an essential instrument in getting important information to the population."

 

UNESCO views the role of journalists as vital for the spread of information to reduce the impact of natural disasters on populations. Two days of the training programme are devoted to the preparation of programmes and reports on natural disaster risk prevention and impact reduction. One day is reserved for the theoretical study of the different types of natural disasters and the attitudes to adopt in each case, to be exemplified by the Haitian Civil Protection body. The training programme will also allow Haitian journalists to boost their knowledge of the humanitarian system that has been put in place by the United Nations in the case of a natural disaster.

On 12 January 2010, Haiti experienced an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, resulting in the death of between 220,000 and 300,000 civilians. Two major seismic fault lines cross the country's territory, one to the North and the other to the South, posing a permanent threat to inhabitants of the island. The surrounding regions often fall victim to cyclones, hurricanes and heavy rainfall causing mud slides. This year, the cyclone season is expected to be harsh, particularly for the 1.5 million people who are still living in tents or in makeshift homes in the camps set up after the earthquake.




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