In the context of humanitarian action Communication with Communities, which is sometimes abbreviated to CwC, refers to activities where the exchange of information is used to save lives, mitigate risk, enable greater accountability and shape the response, as well as supporting the communication needs of people caught up in conflicts, natural disasters and other crises.
Meeting the information and communication needs of such people increasingly is being recognised as a core deliverable in humanitarian response. It can save lives, mitigate risk, enable greater accountability and shape the humanitarian response.
Key Advocacy Messages;
- Communication saves lives. It gives people information they can use to look after themselves, their families and their community.
- Affected communities need to be recognised and treated as experts and practitioners, not just as an audience. Meeting the communication needs of affected people goes far beyond simply providing lifesaving messages or information about where aid is available. Seeking feedback helps aid workers to respond better to urgent needs. Communication between individuals or through local broadcasts allows for reassurance, family contact and opens the possibility of a community response on their own terms while being better able to extract greater accountability about how aid is being used.
- Answering the communication needs of affected populations must be a prime aim of responders, aid providers and donors.
- Listening to populations in a spirit of equality, gaining insights into needs and reshaping aid efforts helps build mutual trust and respect. This leads to more effective action. It is also likely to help communities develop confidence and use communication channels to demand accountability from aid providers and authorities.
- Communication is essential to positioning communities and local leaders at the centre of emergency planning and shaping any response to a crisis. They are always going to be the first responders and will be the first to know when needs are not being met.
- Communication with communities is about rights. It is not only the right thing to do, but it should be recognised as a critical component to build effective humanitarian action, trust and community capacity. Access to the right information, at the right time in the right language is a fundamental human right, and can help to save lives.