Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider the role of digital government in the management and communication of disaster risk
Strategic communications
legislation policy guidance

Data management and risk communications have been in a constant process of adaptation throughout the pandemic. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has released a summary of the main challenges and learnings for public administrators who manage data and communicate risk across Central America. ECLAC has identified digital government as an essential feature for public administration and disaster management. Consider their recommendations to strengthen the processes run by local government offices during the recovery phase.

Lessons for digital government

  • Increase the role and use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in governmental procedures and processes
  • Coordinate, through those ICTs, databases across different offices and Ministries, and levels of government
  • Invest in the digitalization of society, from schools to public offices, to investment in infrastructure and subsidies for equipment
  • Integrate society into a feedback loop of communication through digital tools, as a measure of accountability and as a constant process of evaluation of services

Examples from Central America

  • Establish “home office” schemes for government employees during the response and recovery of COVID-19
  • Use ICTs to centralize information about the spread of COVID-19 and the amount of resources available across hospitals and clinics. Apps could also be useful to communicate risk to the public and provide medical appointments through video calls
  • Use communication apps (e.g. WhatsApp), to continue online classes during the recovery phase, or as part of hybrid, combined online and face-to-face schemes
  • Make public procedures accessible through online platforms, so that people do not need to visit public offices during the recovery phase

Challenges to address digital governance

  • Integrate digitalization of public services into the wider public agenda
  • Identify available infrastructure/resources that are available. Identify new resources needed
  • Involve communities in the process of digitalization and government evaluation (see TMB Issue 38 on co-production)
  • Generate strategies to support inter-organizational cooperation
  • See also TMB Issue 37 Briefing A on risk communications as part of the local resilience capability.
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Consider a review of risk communications to improve disaster management response at pace
Strategic communications

Effective risk communication is central to public health risk management, so that people can make informed decisions and take the correct actions to "prevent, mitigate and recover from emergencies". It enables real-time access to, and exchange of, reliable information. However, the sheer scale and pace of COVID-19 led to an uncoordinated overload of sometimes inconsistent information, so people were unsure about the severity of risk, and therefore behaved according to their individual perception. There has also been a surge of misinformation throughout the pandemic, which has undermined national and local health responses globally.


  • A review of risk communication strategies employed during the pandemic, to identify what worked and what could be improved for future emergencies
  • Build risk communication capacity by appointing dedicated risk communicators at national and local levels, to maintain consistency in communications and develop a sense of familiarity among the public, which can build trust
  • Identify the stakeholders in disseminating risk information (e.g. media) and assess the strength of the relationships with stakeholders. Identify how collaboration and coordination can be enhanced so that the information disseminated is ‘timely, accurate and transparent’
  • Tailor risk communications to the specific risk and needs of diverse communities
  • Engage with the community to co-develop risk communication support structures and establish accountability of community members for required behavioural change
  • Use social media to track (through data analytics) and counter misinformation, and develop a narrative of solidarity through crisis (UN Sri Lanka)
  • Establish a central risk management coordination platform that consolidates risk information and forecasts other potential risks (e.g. concurrent emergencies such as severe flooding). This can enhance capacities and capabilities to provide strategic interventions, and minimize further social and economic impacts (Dominican Republic)
  • Acknowledge and communicate uncertainty in clear and unambiguous language to avoid misinterpretation, e.g. use scientific evidence to estimate the likelihood of COVID-19 case resurgence as precisely as possible, and avoid language such as ‘probably/possibly’
  • Regularly gauge and monitor the public perception of risk, through surveys and consultations with public bodies such as police, to inform timely action to prevent lax or panicked behaviour
  • Evaluate and update risk communications regularly to account for developments (e.g. vaccination)
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