Vanuatu, NGOs lead relief support though social media
Save the children, Red Cross, Oxfam and Care, among others, has played a fundamental rol monitoring information and taking over the pleas for help using social media after the President of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale , made an emotional plea for humanitarian assistance following the widespread devastation caused by category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam last weekend.
Care was one of the organizations who warned people about the danger of Pam becoming a category 5 cyclone on Friday 13rd, affecting- they thought- to at least 20.000 people and anticipating what would inevitably come “extremely damaging wind gusts, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and strong storm surges”.
All at once, the NGOs in the area, as well as United Nations, used their twitter accounts to ask for help and to warn the citizens of the affected area.
Both, Red Cross and @RedCrossAu reported utter devastation and also explained what the organization was doing to face the disaster.
@NZRedCross also took part in the relief operation using its twitter account to let the world know so.
#Vanuatu and #CyclonePam, two hashtags for a the Cyclone Pam
Social media is an especially important back channel when communications are down, as @RedCrolssAu and some others said. The good news is that all the information was organised in two hashtag, so is was not very difficult to follow the updates.
The bone to me was the lack of official information in Twitter. The Vanuatu's Govermnet has a Twitter account since november 2010, but it is dumb since july 2012. Being this the case it probably would not had been relevant its use, taking into consideration that it only has 723 followers. Moreover, a disaster is no the best time to create engagement. As any emergency management knows, you must create a community before using social media as a channel in emergencies.
What do you think? Would it be relevant to create a community if you are in area prone to natural disasters?