Floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, mass nuclear or pollution incidents, health epidemics… according to the 2015 edition of the World Disaster Report
, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world is facing an increasing number of disasters that affect a growing number of people. Radio has demonstrated its power in situations of immediate post-disaster, but also in times of preparedness and recovery. Radio airs tsunami alerts in Japan and Chile, messages on how to avoid Ebola transmission in Liberia or Zika contagion in Brazil. This medium (accessible, available, offering real time coverage and reporting, and with the capacity to involve the audience) has a pivotal role in preventing and mitigating disasters and the associated human costs.
“Amidst the ruins and in the face of an emergency, the radio is often the first medium for survival. Its durability is an incomparable advantage, often enabling it to resist shocks and retransmit messages of protection and prevention to as many people as possible, better and faster than other media, saving lives”, says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
However, times of disaster can also pose a threat to freedom of expression and right to information. On one hand, because journalists, technicians or reporters in the field can be themselves affected by a tsunami or an earthquake; on the other hand, because the response to a disaster can adversely affect the independence, pluralism and freedom of expression of media in general and radio in particular. It can also hinder the use of the people’s right to information.
World Radio Day 2016 will draw people’s attention on the unique role radio plays in times of emergency and disaster and will foster positive initiatives that bring together public, private and community radio and humanitarian NGOs.
Hundreds of local events
will be organized by UNESCO field offices and partners.
Key partners in World Radio Day include France Médias Monde –with the French public radio Radio France Internationale and the Arabic station Monte Carlo Doualiya, MCD–, leading private Spanish radio Cadena SER (Prisa) and web-radio station provider Saooti.com.
On February 13 an exclusive 19 hours' broadcast, produced by RFI (French), MCD (Arabic) and Cadena Ser (Spanish), will be aired on worldradioday.org. Additional RFI broadcasts will be in Russian, English and Chinese.