--> Socio-Cultural Strategies for Multi-Disciplinary Risk Communications, by Suzanne L. Frew; #90041 (2005)

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Joint Meeting Pacific Section, AAPG & Cordilleran Section GSA April 29–May 1, 2005, San José, California

Socio-Cultural Strategies for Multi-Disciplinary Risk Communications

Suzanne L. Frew
The Frew Group, 3221 Sylvan Avenue, Oakland, CA 94602, [email protected]

Effectively understanding and communicating disaster risk is growing as one of the most critical challenges in disaster reduction today. Researchers and practitioners alike often correctly identify risk reduction problems and develop solutions. The breakdown is often in how we engage with widely diverse risk populations—how we choose to listen to those most at risk, how we access their decisionmakers, and how we attempt to motivate these “communities within communities” to take action for effecting change. Globalization is compounding communication complexities while expanding the risk communicator's opportunities, as dramatically demonstrated by the December 2004 South Asian earthquake/tsunami disaster.

An increased emphasis is needed to incorporate socio-cultural factors such as religion, ethnicity, language and gender into our strategies, methodologies, and tools. The specific needs of the community's individual populations and sectors are more effectively addressed by crafting unique risk communication outreach strategies. Partnerships and holistic approaches are more successfully built and sustained if they embrace the "softer" sciences of sociology, psychology, and cross-cultural communications to break through deeply-entrenched cultural barriers.

Practical steps are being taken by government, NGOs, academia, and business/industry to build multi-disciplinary risk communication campaigns that incorporate the socio-cultural (or psycho-social) elements. The use of a theoretical framework for cross-cultural communications can help us better define targeted communities. Social-cultural indicators can be identified during the risk assessment phase. A wider range of traditional and non-traditional approaches can be utilized in the message development and campaign delivery phases. The potential outcome is an holistic approach that turns scientific data into usable intelligence, and makes it accessible for those most at risk.

Case studies gathered from different countries reflect these innovative approaches. Examples include Bangladesh art competitions, Sri Lanka trishaw signage, Nepalese awareness parades, Central American radio dramas, and game simulations such as Rim Sim, developed through the Crowding the Rim Initiative in the United States.

Posted with permission of The Geological Society of America; abstract also online (http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2005CD/finalprogram/abstract_85614.htm). © Copyright 2005 The Geological Society of America (GSA).