Social and Behavior Change Communication for Emergency Preparedness

During emergencies, coordinated, clear and credible communication aids in minimizing resulting health, social and economic costs. However, the uncertainty that characterizes emergencies typically fuels fear and panic among communities, and spreads misconceptions and rumors that affect people’s ability to appropriately respond to the emergency.

Communication is crucial to addressing the behavioral and social aspects of health risks that precede and follow an emergency, and as such must be integrated into the response agenda from the outset. It is critical to ensure that communication efforts are harmonized, relevant, timely, financially supported and aligned among all of the preparedness technical teams. A strong and united voice heard through various sources can determine whether an emergency spirals out of control or is brought into check as soon as possible.

A well-coordinated, timely and strategic communication strategy and implementation plan can manage people’s expectations during an emergency and assist response efforts. Affected communities can be engaged and supported to make the required changes, rumors can be detected early and barriers to desired behaviors can be identified and addressed promptly.

By completing the exercises presented in this I-Kit, national governments will be better prepared to manage serious public health events. In completing this I-Kit, users will gain an understanding of the key considerations for an SBCC emergency preparedness plan and the foundation of an SBCC strategy, one of the key documents for an emergency communication response.

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