Rumour has it: A practice guide to working with rumours

Organisation: CDAC Network | Jun 2017 Author: Jon Bugge, Editor: Angela Rouse
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“You need to puncture your raft before you arrive, or they’ll send you back.” Rumours, like this one conveying incorrect information, can have catastrophic effects both for communities and the organisations working with them. Often, little attention is paid to them until it is too late.

Several members of the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network have recognised the need to work with rumours in their missions to prevent the loss of lives and alleviate suffering. Notably, Internews with their pioneering inter-agency model, the World Health Organisation and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have made considerable efforts to innovate in this area and engage other humanitarian actors on the issue.

The CDAC Network commissioned this practice guide to draw both on their experiences and many others’, in order to document approaches, practices and tools to working with rumours. It is aimed primarily at humanitarian programme managers and field staff to enable them to integrate working with rumours into their response programmes in a way that is achievable.  Internews' model is described in an in-depth case study in the guide, alongside a case study from Search for Common Ground which examines a community-based network approach.

The guide is illustrated throughout with experiences from a range of contexts and all of the examples given are based on real rumours.

How the guide was developed

Practitioners’ contributions to an open call for submissions, alongside secondary data review and key informant interviews, were drawn on to draft the guide, with advice and quality control provided by an editorial steering group comprising a range of sector experts. The guide has been peer reviewed by practitioners in the sector to ensure it provides concise guidance on why – and how – humanitarian actors should engage with rumours as part of their work to prevent or alleviate human suffering.

The guide is structured as follows:

Part One focuses on some of the theory behind rumours: the definition, nature and importance of rumours, and why we need to work with them.

Part Two explains the key steps and considerations to identifying and addressing rumours: listening, verifying and engaging.

Part Three examines different roles and responsibilities in working with rumours, and how anticipation, coordination and partnerships can enhance what you do.

This work was funded by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy.


For further information please contact Angela Rouse or email to share your comments on the guide. You can also tweet about the guide to let others know about it: #RumourGuide @CDACN @AcademyHum

Download PDF: CDAC-Rumour-Handbook-PRINT Download PDF: CDAC-Rumour-Handbook-PRINT Download PDF: CDAC-Rumour-Handbook-low.compressed Download PDF: CDAC-Rumour-Handbook-low.compressed Download PDF: 1-page introduction to rumours Download PDF: 1-page introduction to rumours

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About the CDAC Network

The CDAC Network is a growing platform of more than 30 humanitarian, media development, social innovation, technology, and telecommunication organisations, dedicated to saving lives and making aid more effective through communication, information exchange and community engagement.

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