OCHA on Message: Communications with Communities


What is Communications with Communities?

Communications with Communities (CwC) is an emerging field of humanitarian response that helps to meet the information and communications needs of people affected by crisis.

CwC is based on the principle that information and communications are critical forms of aid, without which disaster survivors cannot access services or make the best decisions for themselves and their communities. People working on CwC help disaster survivors to access the information they need and communicate with people assisting them. CwC is an operational field of work distinct from conventional public information/advocacy.

Communication is a two-way process, and effective CwC strategies facilitate dialogue between survivors and responders, both local and international. CwC projects establish ways disaster survivors can source the information they need and ensure their voices are heard by responding agencies. For example, CwC projects have included humanitarian radio programmes and newsletters. CwC work utilises all available communications channels, including newsletters, mass media, SMS and face-to-face conversations CwC is a philosophy and an approach, the principles of which are applicable across the humanitarian programme cycle, from preparedness (such as early warning systems) to programme implementation, and monitoring and evaluation (such as including affected communities’ perspectives in evaluations).

CwC is also an essential element in ensuring accountability and transparency, which require the effective exchange of information between disaster survivors and responders.

In the case of self-help information—such as advice on treating diseases at home, especially for those who cannot be reached by conventional aid—CwC delivers information as a form of life-saving assistance


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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