How to Reach the ‘Hard to Reach’ Communities During Disasters

How to Reach the ‘Hard to Reach’ Communities During Disasters

As Hurricane Sandy ripped through New England, thousands were without power, heat, or water in the cold. Disasters can devastate anyone, but the impact on individuals with special needs can be catastrophic.  While the Government, Non-Government organizations (NGOs), and the private sector are communicating with vulnerable populations better than ever before, this is where the Government can have a significant impact on those who need it most.

Senior citizens. Children. Institutionalized. Pregnant. Disabled. Drug Dependent.

These individuals need the most help in disasters.

Government agencies and NGOs continue to tackle this complex challenge. To help these individuals, it is important to understand and identify barriers, and look for innovative ways to fill in those gaps.

According to a 2009 article in American Journal of Public Health, communications must “successfully instruct, inform, and motivate appropriate self-protective behavior, update risk information, build trust in officials, and dispel rumors.”

Effective communications can increase trust, awareness, understanding, and responsiveness. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Establish trust. Some prefer information from within their communities than from outside sources
  2. Tailor language to cultural values (e.g., messages to senior citizens are significantly different than to parents)
  3. Engage community organizations that regularly work with 'hard to reach' groups. Involve trusted community members to deliver messages
  4. Use different organizations (e.g., hospitals, schools, assisted living centers, credible companies or charities) to relay communications to the group they serve
  5. Provide clear, consistent, and positive messages

Applying these suggestions, Government officials and other involved organizations will enhance existing emergency preparedness and response plans, while building national community resiliency! 

Contributors

* Arc Aspicio |

Arc Aspicio enhances the future of our nation by creating bold ideas and bringing them to life. A consulting and solutions company, Arc Aspicio solves problems by applying our integrated capabilities in strategy, design, data, human capital, behavioral science, and technology. The company passionately pursues our vision to be the hub of creativity where people take action to change the world. To do this, employees collaborate with clients and partners to create solutions using a human-centered approach. Innovation is not possible without action. The company focuses on strategy first, then takes a hands-on approach implementing ideas to achieve results. Join Arc Aspicio and our Strategy Innovation Lab (SILab) by creating and sharing ideas to inspire people to change the world. Follow us on Twitter @ArcAspicio @SILabDC and, #welovedogs!

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