In response to the devastating floods in northern Pakistan, lifeline radio programmes are to start in the most severely affected areas through the BBC Urdu service.
Developed by BBC World Service Trust and Internews, the new infoasaid service will transmit life-saving information to the hundreds of thousands of people currently cut off from emergency aid efforts and most at risk.
BBC Urdu will transmit six daily bulletins in Urdu and Pashto, providing vital information including how to stay safe, avoid disease and access aid.*
With much of the region’s transport and communication links destroyed, the service will plug a critical gap in delivering information in the immediate aftermath of the disaster using one of the only media channels still available – radio.
As part of an increasingly nationwide response, the programmes will be broadcast on up to 34 BBC partner stations, reaching over 60 million people.
Director of the BBC World Service Trust, Caroline Nursey, says: “This humanitarian crisis is growing every day and is now on a huge scale. Very often it is the simplest information, such as where to get food or how to avoid diseases, that can save thousands of lives. This is what lifeline programming will deliver.”
infoasaid is funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development. Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, says: “As flooding continues to cause destruction and suffering in Pakistan, many will find themselves cut off from family, friends and home. While of course not everyone will be able to access a radio, this is a proven way of reaching as many people as possible when no other means of communication are available.
“The lifeline radio programme is another great example of potentially lifesaving innovation from the BBC World Service Trust, providing essential emergency advice and information on staying healthy and accessing food and shelter, to help those affected cope with the immediate effects of this disaster.”
infoasaid is coordinating its response through UNOCHA and humanitarian agencies in the region. The project’s goal is to improve how aid agencies communicate with disaster-affected communities. The emphasis is on the need to deliver information, as aid itself, through the most appropriate channels.