3 October 2011
Almost three in four Britons feel they are not well informed about overseas emergency aid issues, according to British Red Cross research. Just four per cent of people surveyed described themselves as very well-informed.
The research was carried out for this year’s Dispatches from Disaster Zones, an initiative led by the British Red Cross bringing together professionals from the humanitarian aid and media sectors. The survey revealed people’s appetite for knowledge on some of the more complex areas of the aid system, like people’s access to water, food and cash, and how long it takes to rebuild homes after a disaster.
To shed light on one particularly complex area within the humanitarian system – that of hunger and food insecurity – the Red Cross launched its Seeds of Change campaign last Friday (30 September).
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To try to understand why there is such a lack of understanding among the general public, the quantitative poll with the general public was commissioned alongside qualitative research with journalists and aid agency press officers.
The public poll showed that news is still the main way in which the majority of people get information on disaster aid. The qualitative research highlighted the differing agendas of media and aid agencies – particularly in the area of aid effectiveness and accountability.
Adrian Thomas, head of public relations and public affairs at the British Red Cross, said: “This is not a blame game, but it highlights the importance of those in the media working closely with aid agencies to address some of these issues and to work together to improve reporting.”
Campaign to improve public understanding
Over the next month, the Seeds of Change campaign will highlight some of the problems that people on the poverty line face in their daily lives to ensure they have enough food to eat.
Currently, a third of the population doesn’t know what food insecurity is, and of those that have heard the term, more than half don’t understand the term well. However, the Red Cross survey revealed that 70 per cent of people were interested in having more information on how people can prepare before a disaster strikes.
Adrian said: “This cross-cutting campaign, across traditional and social media, aims to educate and raise awareness around just one of the incredibly complex issues that we work on to support vulnerable people. It highlights a neglected and misunderstood issue that the public themselves have shown an appetite to learn more about.”
Read more about the Seeds of Change campaign
Find out more about Dispatches from Disaster Zones