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Information is vital

Water, food, medicines, and shelter are high priorities in any disaster, but “official information” is vital too. In the early weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, external agencies were too busy communicating with themselves to provide information to the affected population.

It was almost two weeks into the disaster before the U.S. military distributed “wind up” radios and broadcast key messages from an airborne radio transmitter (mainly for dissuading mass exodus to the U.S.). Consistent and authoritative information on who is doing what and by when; or what people affected should do, or how supplies are being distributed; all of these have been poorly handled, leaving room for rumors and false messages to take hold.

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