Smile Again Africa Development Organization has developed a pilot key Message Library; a searchable message database that can be used as a point of reference by those intending to disseminate critical information to affected populations during emergencies in South Sudan.
Information is a vital component of aid, especially during critical emergencies. There is growing mass awareness about and demand for effective two-way communication between vulnerable communities and humanitarian responders. Such information is intended to promote effective humanitarian aid delivery and accountability to the vulnerable communities.
The searchable pilot Message Library, in its current state, concentrates on only three hazards around South Sudan and has critical information that can be disseminated to respective affected populations as awareness, alert or self-care messages.
The three hazards are drought and famine; malaria and measles; and landmines and explosives and GBV and other harmful traditional practices.
The development of the messages included selection of the messages with input from all relevant stakeholders, especially the clusters; translation of the of the messages into various local languages, namely; Juba Arabic, Dinka and Nuer, respective of area of dissemination; trial dissemination of the messages through various channels to identify the most effective channels; and data collection exercise in which surveys were conducted in areas where the messages were disseminated in Juba and the Protection of Civilians site.
Communities were constantly consulted in the event of drafting the messages and suggesting suitable channels of dissemination.
“The pilot message library is meant to harmonize information dissemination by humanitarian actors in South Sudan, we want to make sure that information is readily available in times of emergencies,” Mawere Walter, the SAADO Communications Manager said.
Government institutions like the Ministry of Education and Health and the South Sudan Mines Authority were also extensively involved in the process. This was to ensure that the messages are safe for dissemination, objective, culturally sensitive and within the context of South Sudan before it is made available for mass consumption.
The Message Library is hosted on the CDAC Network website: click here to visit.
Smile Again Africa Development Organization, with support from DFID, has also developed a manual for the Pilot Key Message Library database. The user’s guide is an easy to read document aimed to give assistance to individuals who intend to use the Message Library to disseminate messages in some parts of South Sudan.
South Sudan as a country has not been exception to ravages of prolonged conflicts along with their related devastation. A vast population of the country has been forced out of their homes to displacement settlements with majority seeking refugee asylum in neighboring countries.
The ripple effects of the conflict have also been heavily endured across public and private institutional structures.
As such, humanitarian intervention activities remain at the center of efforts to sustain continuity of the daily lives of the distressed communities, thereby making establishment of community consultation and disaster preparedness measures key in the process.
This has also necessitated the formation of collaborative humanitarian platforms such as the Communicating with Communities Working Group to effect dialogue between communities and responders.
SAADO is the only national NGO in South Sudan that is a member of the Communication with Disaster Affected Communities Network and the organization is committed to strengthening two way communications between humanitarian actors and affected populations