Media in Mauritius is fundamental to Early Warning and Early Action

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa
group photo from media training
Media Trust

Mauritius is a Small Island Developing State off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.  Its location and size make it especially vulnerable to cyclones. As a result, it was selected as one of the 30 countries prioritized under the Early Warnings for All (EW4All) initiative, which is a global effort to ensure everyone on Earth is covered by early warning systems by the end of 2027.

The country has an early warning system which covers multiple hazards. However, significant effort is required to improve several aspects of the system, including the identification of risk, information management, and investment in equipment. 

Ahead of the planned launch of a national workshop for EW4All, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre (NDRRMC), requested the support of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) to familiarize media stakeholders with the initiative and disaster risk reduction. The media is a core stakeholder in disaster risk reduction (DRR), and plays an especially important role in ensuring that early warnings lead to early action. 

In response, on 19 and 21 September 2023, UNDRR and the NDRRMC organized a training workshop for journalists, which was hosted by the Media Trust, established under the Media Trust Act in 1994. The journalists were trained on key DRR concepts and the role of the media in the EW4ALL initiative.

As part of the training, and to strengthen ties with weather and climate services, the journalists attended part of the 12th Session of the South West Indian Ocean Outlook Forum, organized by the Secretariat of the Indian Ocean Commission.

As a result of this, and the journalists' discussions with the NDRRMC, several challenges and opportunities for strengthening the relationship between the government agencies and the media were identified. Building on these immediate outcomes will help not only strengthen the early warning chain in Mauritius ahead of impending disasters, but strengthen the ability of communities to understand and act on risks all year round.

“An approaching cyclone or tsunami is the worst time to negotiate roles and responsibilities for communicating warning messages. As a result of this training, we are optimistic that government agencies and the media will develop and put in place clear protocols that can be applied for early warning systems and communicating risks and mitigation options,” said Mr. Amjad Abbashar, Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Africa.

Welcoming the training, the UN Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms. Lisa Simrique Singh, said “When it comes to disaster risk reduction, a whole of society approach is needed.  The role of the media in this regard is very important. This training I am confident will support the media to play a stronger role via enhanced understanding and capacity to report on issues and ensure necessary sensitization of the population.”

The training workshop was delivered by UNDRR as part of its commitment under the Resilience Building and Disaster Response Management in the Indian Ocean Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union (EU) in partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission. Through this programme, UNDRR seeks to improve DRR understanding and governance capacities of the island states in Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles.

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