A report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reads that the drought driven by the El Nino has not only caused livestock deaths in some areas but has also deteriorated food security conditions doubling the food insecurity from August to October.
On the other hand, around 8.2 million people currently need emergency food assistance, this is almost thrice the figure recorded in the previous year and the number will likely double at the start of 2016, according to the Ethiopian Government. More quickly than ever, the government responded and requested aid assistance to reach affected areas. However, the lack of crisis management and constant update of the situations in all media outlets led to speculative reports.
At times like this, focusing on the importance of risk management is vital sending key information and images to the media and the public. The Crisis Management Unit has to deal with matters in relation to the drought disseminating current updates locally and internationally.
Based on the official information, counter-measures can be discussed and implemented. The Crisis Management Unit will make latest information circulate. This time, the information will be available online (social media) and media outlets. This system is intended to ensure that everyone can directly access information regardless of location, this ensures rapid synergies and eliminates the information gap about the country.
“Reputation is everything and fragile, it only take one incident to cause irreparable damage to the country’s image. This is especially true in the media were disseminated radical and influential information remains in the public mind for long.” Alexander Burtenshaw, Country Manager of Jovago.com Ethiopia said.
Overlooking strong media and public digital voices has come with a huge cost of wrong image creation and damage. In 2014, Ethiopia’s recognition by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as one of the five fastest-growing economy in the world is hardly known. Ethiopia has to learn to not only communicate effectively in the social and digital media age but also to exchange with the masses and align with media and public expectations.
In the online era, it becomes critical to have a media crisis management plan. Official social media pages are successful ways to prevent problems that could arise from lack of information or misinformation. It would be easier for the media to pick up information from such platforms. This not only make things easier for the media but also to the public who are searching for quick facts. Although this will not replace press conferences on major occasions, it’s an ideal method to disseminate developing stories on daily basis. Failing to do this might be considered as keeping information from the public.
It is pivotal to be honest and upfront about the particular crisis the country might be facing as perfection is a devious expectation. Preparing to calmly address questions and criticism that come from any angle is professional. That is where the social obligations becomes even more important as it will create an opportunity for the public to chime in and help support the good cause and distribute the right information.