Communicating with Communities: A Case Study and Guide from Pakistan and Elsewhere is the product of a collaborative effort between IOM and Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) International, and was co-authored by Brian Kelly and Ariane Quentier. The purpose of this handbook is to highlight achievements, as well as ongoing efforts and future plans, in improving communication with and information delivery to affected communities. This guide highlights the lack of critical information in emergency response and what needs to be done to ensure that affected populations, especially marginalized groups, are able to make informed decisions. While focusing on communications activities during the emergency and early-recovery stages, it looks at ways to redress the information gap between the ever-growing number of aid providers and that of humanitarian assistance recipients. The authors argue that when crisis or disaster strikes, communities are not only in need of assistance – for example, in the form of shelter, food and water – but also of information that would enable them to make informed decisions that will ultimately ensure their safety and survival.
Recent years have witnessed an increased number and variety of stakeholders in emergency and disaster humanitarian response: the United Nations system, bilateral donors, national governments and non-governmental actors. Some come with specialist humanitarian mandates, while others are “multi-mandated.” National and international organizations – whether civilian or military in nature – partner together in support of relief efforts. Even the private sector is becoming increasingly involved through “corporate social responsibility” and “shared value” initiatives. Affected communities are the focus of humanitarian assistance, but to what extent are they aware and to what extent can they influence the delivery of such assistance? When, where, how and to what degree do they access it? What are their rights and entitlements, and what are the roles and responsibilities of aid agencies? Despite combined efforts, appropriate communication and timely information targeting affected populations remain largely insufficient. Even when they are present, communication and information efforts are often uncoordinated or duplicated.