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Sunday, 22 November 2015

iPods, singing contests and Frisbees – new ways to communicate

By Laurie Goering, BRACED
If you live in a disaster-vulnerable community, what is the best way for you to learn how to improve your resilience? How might you effectively share what you learn with other communities?
The options for getting good information into practice go well beyond passing out pamphlets or holding community lectures, participants in a BRACED online discussion said this week. From community theatre to radio soap operas, and from text messages to games and competitions, innovative ideas for making information engaging – and making it stick – abound.
Lucia Scodanibbio, of the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) programme, said projects she has worked with have had success holding youth song-writing competitions, aimed at coming up with catchy and memorable messages.
The entries, she said, were streamed on local radio and put on a Facebook page where people could vote on their favourites, with the winners performed at a town concert.
“People liked it a lot and it brought the town together around the topic” - in this case the importance of protecting mangroves, she said.

Children learn about hand washing Photo: Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
Margot Steenbergen, of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said in her organisation’s experience, “simple mnemonics and memory aids like songs and rhymes work really well for (communicating) simple information.”
Songs are part of an effort to promote hand-washing in Ghana, for instance, she said, and “when we came back to one of the schools, it was great to see they were all singing one of our little songs… and had even translated it to their own dialect.”
Games can be similarly useful as a way to simply communicate ideas, and get people to engage with them, participants said.
Pablo Suarez of the Climate Centre, for instance, talks to disaster risk responders about the dangers of extreme weather by throwing a Frisbee into the audience, which they can catch with ease. “That’s the kind of storm you’re used to dealing with,” he says.
Then he launches an oversize soft Frisbee into the group, which wobbles and crashes into the crowd. “That’s the kind of storm that’s coming. Could you catch it?” he says. People immediately grasp the problem.
“You almost literally see a big “Aha!” happening” as people “see the weather”, Steenbergen said.
Her organisation has a range of easy-to-use games available, she said.
Community theatre and community radio – including soap-opera-style series – also can work well to pass on messages, if they’re in local languages people understand, and use local people as experts or actors, participants in the discussion said.
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