FAO Risk Communication seminar
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  • 1. Risk communication for “One Health” Thomas Abraham The University of Hong KongPresented at FAO Risk Communication for One Health Seminar 14 April 2011, Rome Italy
  • 2. Man New Disease TheAnimals environment
  • 3. Outline• Based on experience of H5N1 communication, a two pronged approach using community level risk communication and participatory development communication• Some principles of participatory communication
  • 4. Building on the experience of H5N1communication1. Differing perceptions of risk betweencommunities living with the diseaseand outside experts.2. H5N1 was a livelihood issue, asmuch as a human and animal healthissue. Communication messagestended to treat it as a health issue.
  • 5. Differing Perceptions of Risk We’re protecting global health security
  • 6. No big deal,chicken die all the time
  • 7. Crazy guys,I don’t think they’ve ever but love theseen a live chicken before suits
  • 8. Differences in perceptions of risk betweenexperts and the public is a feature ofmodern society
  • 9. Differences in perception of risks• Technical experts judge the risk to be very low• Those against nuclear energy ( and increasingly the public) judge the risk to be high
  • 10. All risks have benefits• Modern industrial society needs power• Other sources of power such as fossil fuels also have risks associated with them
  • 11. Risk Communication• Acting as a bridge between expert assessments and public assessments of risk• Outcome is a shared understanding of risk, and a consensus on what needs to be done• Risk communication is not about putting out messages and persuading the public to accept them but a process of reaching consensus• Different from emergency communication, where people need to know quickly what to do
  • 12. Why consensus and common understanding?• Risks are uncertain: they may or may not happen• Every “risky” action, or behaviour, has a benefit attached to it. Changing behaviour and practices have costs attached to them• People on the ground need to balance the costs and benefits, not experts• Local communities have their own knowledge which needs to be used to solve problems
  • 13. Community level risk communication is anessential strategy to bridge the gap betweenpublic and expert perceptions and should bea foundation for communication on animal-human health
  • 14. A livelihood issue If you kill my ducks, what am I going to feed my family?
  • 15. • More poultry have probably died in culling operations during H5N1 than from the disease itself• For farmers and rural communities, the risk to livelihood of preventive measures, can be greater than the health risks from the disease itself• We need to start looking at livestock and animal disease as a livelihood issue, rather than a purely health issue
  • 16. This is a development issue• Aim of strategy is to help people protect and improve their livelihoods through keeping livestock and themselves healthy
  • 17. Because this is a development issue, we needto use the tools of participatorydevelopment communication to empowercommunities to solve this problem
  • 18. Two models of development communication• Top down model: originally based on Rogers’ diffusion of innovations approach• Uses tools like social marketing, education-entertainment, media messages to promote certain goals and objectives
  • 19. • Participatory model: a more radical model, in which communities decide their priorities, and design programmes to meet these needs• Role of communicators and outside experts is to assist communities in this process
  • 20. Why is participation better than a top down approach• Top down programmes are driven by funding from outside.• They often have little meaning for the community• When the funding ends, so does the programme
  • 21. • Participatory programmes are things the community actually wants and is asking for• With help, communities can raise and find funding to do the things they need to do• Benefits are long lasting, organic
  • 22. "Communication for development is about people, whoare the drivers of their own development; It contributesto sustainable change for the benefit of the poorest; It isa two way process [and] is about people comingtogether to identify problems, create solutions andempower the poorest; It respects indigenousknowledge and culture and that local context is key; Itis critical to the success of the MillenniumDevelopment Goals." Declaration of 9th UNCommunication for Development RoundTable, 2004.
  • 23. Let’s get real…• In the real world, pure, participatory development communication is hard to come be• Goals do not come from the community: set by donors, governments, and international community.• But communities still need to play a role by discussing, understanding, and deciding on how best to implement
  • 24. Principles of participatory risk communication• Communication should be a dialogue on risk rather than a monologic delivery of messages.• Communities have their own knowledge and experience, and communication should be a process by which this local knowledge is assimilated with information from outside in order to define problems and arrive at solutions.• The aim of the communication exercise should be to help communities find ways to protect and improve their livelihood
  • 25. • Guidelines and measures to reduce risk produced by outside experts should be flexible and indicative rather than prescriptive; allowing communities to decide priorities and design programmes• Communicators have a role not only as messengers, but as act as change agents, helping communities to organize and get access to resources.
  • 26. Some next steps• Substantial community level development communication capacity has been built up over several decades• New efforts needs to build on existing capacity• Determining the key technical issues on which community level dialogue can begin• Training programmes for communicators to act as change agents and not messengers