South Sudan

South Sudan’s pilot Message Library of critical information for disaster affected communities is ready for use in emergencies

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Walter Mawere

SMILE Again Africa Development Organization (SAADO) has developed a searchable message database that can be used to disseminate critical information to affected populations during emergencies in South Sudan.

This follows demand for effective two-way communication between vulnerable communities and humanitarian responders. The information is intended to promote effective humanitarian aid delivery and accountability to the vulnerable communities.

In its current state, the searchable pilot concentrates on only three hazards around South Sudan and has critical information that can be disseminated to respective affected populations as awareness, alert or self-care messages. The three hazards are drought and famine; malaria and measles; landmines and explosives and GBV in addition to some harmful traditional practices.

The process of coming up with the messages included selection of the messages with input from all relevant stakeholders, especially the clusters; translation of the messages into various local languages, namely; Juba Arabic, Dinka and Nuer, respective of area of dissemination; trial dissemination of the messages through various channels to identify the most effective channels; and data collection exercise in which surveys were conducted in areas where the messages are disseminated in Juba and the Protection of Civilians site.

Communities were strongly involved in drafting the messages and suggesting suitable channels of dissemination. Through focus discussions and one on one interview, communities helped in translating the messages and also advising on the channels they trust and which would reach them more.

“The pilot message library is meant to harmonise information dissemination by humanitarian actors in South Sudan, we want to make sure that information is readily available in times of emergencies,” said SAADO Communications Manager Walter Mawere. Stakeholders have welcomed the online platform and called for its scaling up highlighting that it is very helpful in emergency response.

The South Sudan government through the ministries of Education, Health and the South Sudan Mines Authority was extensively involved in the process to come up with a searchable message database. This was to ensure that the messages are safe for dissemination, objective, culturally sensitive and within the context of South Sudan before it is made available for mass consumption.

The Message Library is hosted on the CDAC Network website which you can visit here.

SAADO, with support from DFID, has also developed an accompanying user’s guide, an easy to read document aimed at giving assistance to individuals who intend to use the Message Library to disseminate messages in areas of South Sudan. This can be downloaded below.

This work was undertaken in support of the Communicating with Communities Working Group, a collaborative humanitarian platform in South Sudan to effect dialogue between communities and responders which has been funded over the last three years by UKaid through the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme. For further information about the working group please contact [Atemsijin Daniel.(atemsijin@gmail.com)

SAADO is the only national NGO in South Sudan that is a member of the Communication with Disaster Affected Communities Network and the organisation is committed to strengthening two-way communications between humanitarian actors and affected populations. For further information about the Message Library please contact Walter Mawere.