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Communication for Development (C4D)

Humanitarian action

C4D in humanitarian situations

© UNICEF/Serbia/Gilbertson
15 years old, Shaimae Drazeniand, her brother Yusef, pass through a transit center in Sid.

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Communication for Development in Humanitarian Action

Communication for Development in humanitarian situation seeks to share relevant, action-oriented information so that when disaster strikes, people in affected communities know what actions to take. Timely, accurate information plays a critical rom in the  protecting the health and wellbeing of all, including people with disabilities, children and the elderly. 

Social mobilization plays an important role in humanitarian response. It is often assumed that communities affected by humanitarian situations are too shocked to take on responsibilities. In fact, many people, including children, return to normalcy more quickly when they participate in helping others and themselves during an emergency.

C4D in Humanitarian Actions Compendium of Case Studies (2019). This collection of case studies in Communication for Development (C4D) in Humanitarian Actions has been developed to showcase best practices and lessons learned from UNICEF's application of communication and community engagement approaches in various emergency and humanitarian contexts.

2017 Rohingya Emergency Response: Information Feedback Centres strengthen community feedback mechanisms. This case study looks into the Information and Feedback Centres (IFCs) that were set up as part of the Rohingya Emergency Response within the first three to four weeks of arrival.

Ukraine 2016: Superheroes against mines: Edutainment approach to engaging children in mine safety.
Ukraine is one of the world’s most mine contaminated countries in the world. There was a clear need for mine risk education among children but a hindering factor needed to be taken into consideration: children were reluctant to listen to adults about the necessary precaution measures to avoid mines. This case study will discuss how the country office developed their education entertainment program to address the need for mine risk education, using multiple platforms to reach children with lifesaving information.

Conflict-affected Eastern Ukraine in 2016 – 2017: Storytelling as a tool to strengthen the inclusion of fragile communities. This case study will look specifically at the challenge of achieving social inclusion in the context of internal displacement of children and their families due to conflict.

Ghana cholera outbreak 2014 – 2015: Engaging youth through multisectoral partnerships and the Agoo digital platform. This case study outlines how UNICEF Ghana mobilized individuals and communities to practise preventive behaviours through a multi- channel campaign promoting handwashing.

Guatemala Fuego volcano 2018: Participatory production and the strengthening of local capacity for accountability to affected populations. This case study looks at how UNICEF Guatemala’s Communication for Development (C4D) team was able to use an evidence-based approach in responding to the Fuego volcano emergency, incorporating elements of community mobilization and accountability to affected populations.

Nepal Earthquake 2015: Engaging communities to build resilience and accountability mechanisms. While the short-term and long-term C4D earthquake response followed a holistic approach, this case study primarily focuses on resilience-building and accountability mechanisms set up in the aftermath of the disaster.

Sierra Leone mudslide response 2017: Using digital platforms to place affected populations at the heart of the response. To respond to the twin disaster, the Communication for Development (C4D) team collaborated with U-Report to support communication and behaviour change among affected communities to prevent a cholera outbreak and to support the beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme.

South Sudan cholera response 2016-2017: Engaging communities outside the reach of conventional communication and community engagement approaches. This case study showcases how the C4D team engaged affected populations in a response plan targeting areas with active cholera transmission, mainly among cattle camps.

Syria IDP Response 2018: C4D-WASH response to the needs of IDPs in shelters in East Ghouta. This case study focuses on C4D-WASH interventions, showcasing a concrete example of how affected populations can be given a voice in the design and implementation of an emergency response in the context of conflict and internal displacement.

'Xô Zika!' Children on the front line of Zika virus vector control in Campina Grande, Brazil 
Campina Grande was facing an urgent challenge to control the proliferation of the Aedes aegypti, a mosquito infecting people with the Zika virus, as well as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Manpower was limited, budgets were tight, and there was no time to waste. Reaching 100,000 households in the city with the information needed to combat the spread of the mosquito would take 20,000 students. 

Beating the drum against ebola in Sierra Leone
The rhythmic sound of tam-tams fills the corridors at the Observational Interim Care Centre (OICC) in Freetown, where children who may have been exposed to Ebola are kept in quarantine as a precaution. Caregivers, plays the drums to calm the children who have been separated from their families. The drumming works wonders. Fourteen-month-old Kadie, who has been under observation for two days, stops crying and settles in the arms of Memunata Sesay, another caregiver at the OICC. 

Community health volunteers improve child and maternal nutrition in Nepal 
More than 50,000 health volunteers provide a crucial link to health services in 29 districts that have the highest rates of undernutrition. The programme uses a multi-sector approach, combining nutrition, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and social protection interventions to maximize the positive effects on child and maternal nutrition.

Quick action to contain cholera in Burundi
With the sudden appearance of nearly 170 cholera cases, it became essential to quickly identify and track cases in real time. RapidPro technology on simple mobile phones has allowed health workers to immediately notify the central level of new cases, and to report on the evolution of each hospitalized case. But responding effectively to cholera does not just mean treating confirmed cases – it also means preventing new ones. Communications tools for use in health centres and in communities are critical to limiting contamination and rapidly containing the illness.

Radio helps schoolchildren catch up on learning in Guinea
Kept out of school by the Ebola epidemic, children in Guinea are making up for lost time through a series of lessons broadcast on radio. The series offers catch-up lessons in mathematics and French. For children who are in school, the lessons build on what they have learned in class; for children not in school, they offer an alternative to classroom learning.

SMS reporting revolution takes on Ebola, in Sierra Leone
Getting data quickly has been a key in fighting against Ebola, which has caused more than 3,000 confirmed deaths in Sierra Leone. That is where the RapidPro free open-source platform comes in. It isn’t the world’s first mobile phone reporting platform, but it is one that’s remarkably well adapted to the field – easy to set up and usable on pre-existing equipment and phone networks in all but the remotest places.

Psychosocial counselling goes on the radio in Nepal 
Radio Nepal has the country’s largest listener audience, with over 70 per cent of the 27.5 million population. They launched a special new programme to help listeners cope with the aftermath of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Barely a few hours had passed since the programme the first show, when telephones started ringing in the studio with concerns from parents about their children.

A volunteer’s commitment to helping Syrian mothers and babies in Iraq
Now in her new life Janda and a cadre of volunteers at the camp work with pregnant women and new mothers to provide prenatal and post-natal counseling and care. Mothers from Darashkran camp bring a new baby into this world about once every day, so Janda has to be alert and active. Early in the morning, with her supervisor and the other volunteers, Janda gathers her equipment and outlines the day’s work plan.



Featured resources

C4D in Earthquake Response in Nepal

  Community Engagement for Zika Virus Prevention   English - Spanish

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