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A Game for Lebanese Children: Learning how to Avoid Risks while Playing

“I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of this project and invite my fellow colleagues to double their efforts  as we have been entrusted with the safety of our peoples’ lives”, the Lebanese Civil Defence Director General Raymond Kattar declared  in his intervention during the  ceremony for the closure of  the awareness raising project Edu-games for Children implemented within the EU-funded PPRD South programme, organised at the UNESCO Conference Palace in Beirut on December 2011.

“The European Union through PPRD South has generously provided a donation of 40,000 euro for the project to strengthen awareness in Lebanon. Our aim is that this project, the first of its kind in Lebanon, reaches the largest possible number of citizens, especially children” he added.

The aim of the final event was to distribute -  in front of hundreds of teachers, representatives from the Ministry of Education, Civil Defence officials and media  -  the 125,000 CDs with edu-games, produced in English, French and Arabic and available now also on the Civil Defence website www.lebanesecivildefence.com/civilguardians/.

The overall objective of this  project was the production of CDs with computer games  addressed to 125,000 children  from 7 to 10 years of age which are going to be distributed all over the country, and aimed to teach how to avoid and react against most of the dangers that a child can face (earthquakes, fires, landslides, sea and mountain precautions,  electricity  and fire risks, etc.).

During her speech, EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst thanked the Civil Defence. “We are in your hands as far as security is concerned”, she said and went on by adding that “also through such a small action as this project, we are giving  some tools to children to get knowledge and help make aware their parents about risks and disasters.  I am sure this will have an impact, and I myself want to try and play with it”.

The Edu-games for Children, supported by the PPRD South Programme, is one of the awareness raising projects that were and are implemented in 5 Programme Partner Countries (Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Montenegro and occupied Palestinian territory) thanks to a total budget of 200,000 euro.
Friday, 06 January 2012
(General News)
A consolidated media strategy to effectively deal with the media during emergencies

Interview with Michel Sailhan, Bureau Chief in Turkey for the international France Pres agency. He co-animated the recent PPRD South Workshop on “Information in Emergency” in July in Amman. Michel has a long experience as a journalist in the Mediterranean region and has been through most of the major disasters that struck the region in the past 30 years.

Q. What are the basic rules that a Civil Protection Official should follow while communicating to the media during an emergency so as to avoid misinformation and reduce the negative impacts on the population?

A. It is very important for the Civil Protection Authorities have a good communication and media strategy. Relations with the media should be built well in advance before emergencies and kept up with continuity. Solid credibility and transparent accountability are the key aspects of a successful institutional media strategy. 

During emergencies the effort of the communication sector of the Civil Protection should be focused on trying to avoid panic in the population, inform about the operations  carried out, the problems encountered and the solutions put in place. The first principle is to be prepared to reply in real time to any news disseminated by the media. Agencies often publish alerts mentioning only the news and the source as soon as they receive the information. The Civil Protection Authorities should be ready to react to any news published by agencies clearly stating what is true and what is not in order to avoid possible negative “media effects” on the institution and the operations. With well prepared media relations and solid credibility this task is much easier.

Q. As highlighted by the participants to the PPRD South workshop on “Information in Emergency”, Civil Protection Authorities have often the impression that media work against them, that they try to give them most of the responsibility of the negative consequences of an emergency on the population.

A. Press officers of the Civil Protection Authorities should bear in mind that media are not supposed to work in favour or against the institution. The aim of the media is creating stories and reporting what is happening. Journalists have their own logic and sense in explaining the story to their readers. They try to find an angle for the story that will be interesting and grab attention. For example, in case of earthquake, they may be interested in reporting the event from the point of view of the damages to historical sites or of the children among the victims.

Q. Which aspects should be considered when preparing an effective communication to the media, i.e. a press release?

A. An effective press release should say something that is newsworthy from the point of view of the media.  We are used to say that a news is a change in the status quo that has consequences on a community. The main factors that guide the decision of a journalist on what is news and what is not news are the impact on a specific population –  for example, how many people are affected by the event and how seriously or how close the impact of the event is to the public. Good communicators should always bear in mind their audience’s interests when formulating press releases. They have also to prepare it in a professional manner. Normally a  press release should be built around one main idea well explained and documented. In some specific cases the same idea can be seen from two different sides if this twofold perspective strengthens the message.

Q. What is the importance of images when informing the public on the impact of a disaster and on the civil protection actions being carried out?

A. Images are very important to reinforce the message of a communication or news-item. Sometimes images are so important that they may become the news. We call it the “frame effect”.

Q. Participants in Amman highlighted the difficulties they experience when dealing with electronic media which sometimes disseminate information  misleading and counter producing. To what extent these “new media” have changed the work of journalists and civil protection press officers?

A. During the years 1990-2000 national and international information flows were managed by the National News Agencies and by three international news agencies: France Press, Associated Press and Reuters. Today, following the changes to the media environment brought about by the electronic media, newspapers produce and publish a continuous information flow on their websites, blogs and social networks allow the public to produce information and directly publish it on the internet.

This information is often manipulated and sometimes very close to propaganda. The work of civil protection press officers and spoke persons as well as of journalists working in the traditional media is much more complicated. They have to take in consideration what those information sources say. They have also to improve their capacity of providing living information and interact with the public in order not to appear static and too authoritative.

Monday, 11 October 2010
(General News)
PPRD South workshop on “Information in Emergency and Awareness Raising”

Click here to access to the web page of the event

The EU-funded Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD South) is organising its fourth regional workshop on “Information in Emergency and Awareness Raising” which will take place in Amman, Jordan, from 5 to 8 July  2010.

Thursday, 01 July 2010
Seism, don’t panic - before, during and after

This brochure prepared by the Algerian Red Crescent,  is addressed to children and explains in a clear and efficient way what necessary actions should be taken in the event of an earthquake. Before an earthquake, we must be prepared, and know where protected areas and those at risk are. During an earthquake, it is necessary to know what to do, whether at home, at school or in a car, and where to go to protect oneself. Instructions are given to follow after the earthquake. Advice is also given on the preparation of an emergency kit. The brochure is available in Arabic and French only.(UNESCO)

Friday, 14 May 2010
(General News)
PPRD South web portal scores 900 visits in two weeks

Encouraging results are recorded by the web traffic analyser for the newly born web site which, in only two weeks has recorded 900 visits coming from 73 countries. A specific request of additional information on the article “EuroMediterranean Seismic Hazard Map” was also received. For two thirds of the visits we identified the country from where they came from. Morocco is the first in the Mediterranean followed by Algeria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel and Turkey.

Surprisingly Europe has visited the site more than the Mediterranean and Balkan countries. France follows suit Italy then Belgium, Spain, Greece, Germany and the United Kingdom.

We thank all those who visited the portal these days showing  interest in our activities. We thank them also  for the encouraging messages we received. Our aim is to improve and to enrich the portal also with the contribution of the partners of the Programme and anybody involved in civil protection activities at local, national and international level in the Euro-Mediterranean region, and not only.

Consider this portal your portal and do not hesitate to post articles, ideas, proposal, stories and events related to the civil protection sector activities. Your contributions will be validated by the PPRD South team and will be then published on the portal.

Thursday, 29 April 2010
(General News)
Hidden Disaster: a Comic Book to inform younger people on ECHO's activities

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) has recently published a fictious comic tale, "Hidden disaster", to illustrate how it responds to crises and provides victims of disasters with the needed assistance. The story tells about an earthquake occurred in an imaginary country and explains how relief and rescue are deployed in the areas affected by the disaster. Its author is a Belgian comic book artist, Erik Bongers. This publication exists for the moment in five language versions: English, French, German, Dutch and Italian.

Download here the English version

Monday, 12 April 2010
How to improve children’s earthquake personal protection behaviour

The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, used to point out that “Disaster risk management begins with information” and this is especially true for populations in high risk areas, in particular for children. The PPRD South Programme is committed to promote awareness raising  methodologies and tools by improving the circulation of information on remarkable experiences carried out in the Mediterranean region.

Wednesday, 03 February 2010
(General News)
Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School. Practices & Lessons Learned

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign "Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School", organised by UNESCO and UNISDR, has given a worldwide impulse to efforts aimed at encouraging the integration of disaster risk education in school curricula in countries vulnerable to natural hazards and the safe construction and retrofitting of school buildings to withstand natural hazards.

This publication  of 2007 provides an encouraging account of initiatives carried out during the Campaign. It contains 35 good practices and lessons learned as concrete examples of how to make children safer in their classrooms and educate them about disasters.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010
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