Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

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)
Source link(s):