First Response India (FRI) has responded to the disaster unfolding in the Assam region of North east India, where over a million people have been forced to leave their homes as monsoon rains have flooded wide areas. The Brahamaputra River has burst its banks in the town of Pajerbhanga, in the most affected district of Barpeta, 50% of which is under water and where 60% of the population has been affected.
First Response India, after consultation with World Vision, Sphere India and Eficor, have sent two producers into the area to assess and respond to the situation. They arrived in Assam on Thursday 5th July, with the “Studio in a Suitcase”, and travelled the next day to the Barpeta district.
Broadcasts started on Sunday 8th July, within 72 hours of deployment. FRI programmes respond to the information needs of the affected community and are based on information from local government, NGOs and interviews with members of the public so as to best respond to their needs. Having found two people to present in the local language of Assami, and using information and updates provided by Assam Disaster Management Authority, FRI is broadcasting using existing shortwave outlets, and also hope to partner with Guwahi AIR (All India Radio) Station.
First Response India spokesman, Jon Hargreaves, said “People have been forced to flee for their lives. They are homeless and lacking even the most basic necessities. They are traumatised and lacking critical information. Radio can provide them with the information they need to access relief and help prevent disease. It can provide a sense of normality amid incredible upheaval and distress. Amid disaster, radio can save lives and bring hope to those who need it most. That's what we're trying to do in Assam.”
About FIRST Response: “Life saving information in disaster”
FIRST Response (FR) Radio delivers critical information, via radio, to affected communities in the immediate aftermath of disasters. FIRST Response Radio is an International network of radio broadcasters, NGOs and Government partners. Our members have been working in disaster areas since the Tsunami of 2004, providing critical information via radio, as aid. We give a voice to the community which helps to establish two way communication with the affected community. FR India was established in 2008 and responded to the Bihar floods that year.
Mike Adams, Rapid Response Radio Unit Coordinator