Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media
Prevention Begins with Information

(Logo used with permission)


October 14th Special Event Summary
World Disaster Reduction Day
Online Transcript

Download Transcript (MS Word File)

Press Kit Cover Letter
Online Press Kit
Download Press Kit (WP 8 File, 127 KB)
1998 IDNDR Internet Conference
Local Activities Guidelines
Photo Contest

IDNDR Home Page
1998 Conference Page: Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media
1997 Conference Page: Socio-Economic Impact of Water-related Disasters
1996 Conference Page: Solutions for Cities at Risk
IDNDR Background Info


EIIP Virtual Forum Special Event
Wednesday - October 14, 1998 - 12:00 Noon EDT

World Disaster Reduction Day
October 14, 1998

Helena Molin Valdes
Latin America Unit in Costa Rica
IDNDR Secretariat

The EIIP Virtual Forum celebrated World Disaster Reduction Day, October 14, 1998, with the rest of the world as the culmination of the United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaigns for the year as organized by the IDNDR Secretariat.

The overview of World Disaster Reduction Day began with a quote from a message from the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, of the United Nations Organisation. The session featured Helena Molin Valdes, Head, Latin America Unit in Costa Rica. Helena works for the UN IDNDR Secretariat, outposted in Costa Rica for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Helena stressed that the United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaigns, organized by the IDNDR Secretariat, are designed to make people aware, world-wide, and across all professional and social sectors, of what they can do to protect their countries and communities from natural hazards. She pointed out that the theme of the campaign this year was to enhance a closer partnership with communicators for disaster reduction to hopefully reduce the impact of disasters. Helena's primary message was the necessity of social communicators/journalists working hand-in-hand with disaster managers to make any information strategy worthwhile and create public information that causes change of attitudes to bring about a prevention culture.

The session attracted an international audience with participants from Canada, Sweden, Peru and, of course, Costa Rica, the guest speaker's location. Activities occurring simultaneously in Geneva and other parts of the world were conveyed to the audience as the Virtual Forum also celebrated World Disaster Reduction Day. The discussion was spirited and went on for a full hour and a half.

* * * *


August 1998

Dear Reader,

You will find enclosed information material which is designed to aid your plans to contribute to this year's United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign.

Each year, the campaign is based on a different theme. This year's theme is "Prevention begins with Information--Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media". The 1998 theme was chosen to address various communication issues in natural disaster prevention.

Disaster prevention communication issues are discussed, in part, in the campaign press kit which you will find enclosed. They will also be discussed during the 1998 Internet Conference (28 September-18 October) at (instructions on how to participate are enclosed).

Moreover, the 1998 theme is destined to enlist the media as working partners in promoting natural disaster prevention measures. With the help of the enclosed information material, the 1998 World Disaster Reduction Campaign is your opportunity to let people know what they can do to protect themselves from natural disasters and to establish partnerships with communication and media professionals to reach the widest audiences world-wide.

Like every year, we encourage you to organize local activities with the help of our information material. A recap of the guidelines we produced earlier this year is enclosed.

The World Disaster Reduction Campaign culminates with the celebration of World Disaster Reduction Day on 14th October 1998. Parallel events in New York and Geneva, with high level involvement of the United Nations will mark these celebrations. The Sasakawa Disaster Prevention Award (created to promote humanitarian efforts to assist those affected by natural disasters) will be presented to its winner. Information on these events will be made available to you in the course of September.

The enclosed information is the following:

  • 2 posters (available in French, Spanish and English)
  • An announcement for the 1998 IDNDR Internet Conference on the theme of "Natural Disaster Prevention begins with Information".
  • An announcement for the 1998 International IDNDR photo contest.
  • A press kit with various articles on the campaign theme as well as material on the disaster management and statistics (available in French, Spanish and English)
  • Stickers (limited quantity available)
  • Guidelines for local activities
  • A b-roll with footage on natural disasters is available upon request
  • A radio programme on natural disaster prevention has been produced with UNESCO as a partner. Copies are available upon request.

We look forward to working with you over the coming months and hope that the information provided to you will be of use.

Philippe Boullé
IDNDR Secretariat


The United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaigns, organized by the IDNDR Secretariat, are designed to make people aware, world-wide, and across all professional and social sectors, of what they can do to protect their countries and communities from natural hazards. The campaigns are based on a different theme each year, and various activities are organized as part of them. Campaign events are designed to build local capacity and system-wide commitment (locally, nationally, regionally and internationally) to reducing the impact of natural disasters.

Each campaign culminates on United Nations World Disaster Reduction Day which is celebrated on the second Wednesday of October.

This year, the United Nations World Disaster Reduction Day will be celebrated world-wide on 14 October 1998. The theme is "Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media" and its slogan is "Prevention begins with Information".

* * * *


1998 United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign

Join the 1998 IDNDR Internet Conference!
The IDNDR Secretariat is organizing its third Internet Conference on:

"Natural Disaster Prevention begins with Information"
The conference will run from 28 September-18 October 1998

Conference Rationale
A sound strategy behind the formulation and communication of disaster prevention messages is necessary to reinforce and promote a worldwide culture of prevention.

To gather disaster prevention information and communicate it is a complex process involving disaster managers and scientists for proper substance of the topic AND communicators such as journalists and public information professionals to ensure the right messages reach the concerned audience. The challenge we face is to sell the validity of the disaster prevention message, to find the right communication tools, to formulate the right information at the right time in an appropriate language.

To make progress and share experiences on these issues, the IDNDR has launched the 1998 World Disaster Reduction Campaign "Natural Disaster Prevention begins with Information".

The Internet Conference will be organized jointly between the IDNDR Secretariat and the Peruvian Non-Governmental Organization Quipunet, as in previous years.

Conference Agenda
Week 1. (28 Sept. - 4 Oct)
TOPIC: Media and Disaster Prevention
FOCUS: Media's role to carry out the message of disaster prevention, versus the sensationalist approach of reporting only on the disaster impact.
QUESTIONS: What tools are necessary for journalists to improve reporting on disaster reduction? How should disaster managers approach the media in the best way?

Week 2. (5 Oct. - 11 Oct)
TOPIC: Public Information; How to get the message out?
FOCUS: Compare experiences of organizations and countries on how to get the disaster prevention message out to local people and decision makers.
QUESTIONS: What are the different ways of local, national and international organizations and institutions to approach communities and decision-makers? Are the media an important tool? What about other ways to reach out?

Week 3. (12 Oct. - 18 Oct):
TOPIC: What is the disaster prevention message?
FOCUS: During this week the substance of the disaster prevention message will be discussed. QUESTIONS: What is it we want the media to report on? Where and how can proper information be easily accessed?

How to participate?
Internet conferencing is easy and cheap provided you have access to a computer equipped with a modem and Internet connection. No traveling is involved in a virtual conference and you will have the opportunity to interact with participants from all over the world. Conference papers are distributed to the participants through a discussion list and the participants can send their comments to the moderator who sends them back to everyone. Parallel discussions are also possible as the contact information of each participant will be given. This year, direct interaction with high-level UN officials will be part of the conference.

Conference participants need to subscribe to a discussion list for active participation. The conference will also be available on a website (

To subscribe
Send a message to: [email protected]
Write nothing under the subject and write the following in the text:
Subscribe risk Your Name (example: subscribe risk John Smith)

If you do not want to participate actively in the discussion you may follow the conference on the Web, where papers and input from the participants will be posted every day.

Please visit the website of the Conference at the following location:

During the first days of each week papers will be presented to raise the issues and to start discussion. Every conference participant may than submit comments, present other experiences and ideas.

A parallel forum will be held for the advertisement of projects, conference calls and any other issues which may want to be raised.

A moderator will follow the discussion and make a sum-up by the end of each week.

For more information, please contact:
Mrs. Madeleine Moulin-Acevedo, Promotion and Public Awareness Unit
IDNDR Secretariat, Palais des Nations, CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: 41 22 7986894, Fax: 41 22 7338695, Email: [email protected]

Quipunet is a Peruvian Non-Governmental Organization which promotes learning through the Internet. It has been a partner of IDNDR in the organization of the two previous conference on the Internet organized in 1996 and 1997. More information about Quipunet can be found at

International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Tel.(4122) 7986894; Fax: (4122) 7338695; Email: [email protected]

* * * *


1998 United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign

Local Activities Guidelines

Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media
"Prevention Begins with Information"

ü Build partnerships with national and local media
Contact your local and national printed, audio and audio-visual media. Send them information (use the support material listed below) on natural disaster prevention. In conjunction with the media bodies in question, work out the main areas at stake in the role of the media versus the issue of natural disaster prevention in your country, what the problems have been in the past and what solutions might be appropriate for the future. Compile this information and send it to the IDNDR Secretariat by 15 September 1998. Your research will be published in the 1998 campaign report and will be used as part of the substance for discussion in the 1998 Internet conference.

ü Compile information kits and success stories
Compile the information collected on the most important hazards in your country and the potential solutions in the form of printed, audio, or audio-visual information kits and send it to the IDNDR Secretariat in Geneva by 15 September 1998. The material will be published in our 1998 campaign report which will go to all our partners worldwide and to the international press.

ü Hold a round table on natural disaster prevention and the media
Focus on the most important issues, problems and solutions in your country with regards to the finding, production and dissemination of information in the realm of disaster prevention, discuss it with the officials, the professionals and the concerned population. Send your recommendations to the Secretariat by 15 September. The results will be published in the 1998 campaign report.

ü Make a list of useful contacts
Make a list of relevant persons to contact with reference to natural disaster management in your country. Give the list of natural disaster management professionals to your partners in the media so that they have sources of information on natural disaster management issues.

ü Involve pupils and communication students
Encourage pupils and communication students in your country to report on natural hazards, disasters and natural disaster prevention measures in your country. Send the material to the IDNDR Secretariat by 15 September 1998. The material will be published and the winner will receive a small grant to further his or her work in disaster prevention issues.

ü Links to other sources of information
The IDNDR Secretariat has produced an extensive list of further contacts in the field of natural disaster management. The list is in the form of websites and can be viewed under the "links to further contacts" section of the following website: and For more information on the IDNDR RADIUS initiative, please visit the RADIUS home page:; for information on the UN Task Force on El Niño, coordinated by the IDNDR Secretariat, please click on "latest on El Niño" (under 18 December 1997) at

* * * *


1998 United Nations World Disaster Reduction Campaign

Join the IDNDR 1998 International Photo Contest!

Natural Disaster Prevention and the Media
"Prevention Begins with Information"

The IDNDR Secretariat is organizing an international photo contest. Send your best photo, black and white or color, to the IDNDR Secretariat by 30 September 1998 in the format of your preference (hard copy).

Photo Contest Rules
The IDNDR Secretariat is looking for different types of photos.

  • Photos of natural disasters
    If the area you live in or your country or region has been hit by a natural disaster in the last five years, please send us photos of the event.

  • Photos of prevention measures in place in your community, country or region.
    Examples of practical prevention measures may vary a lot, they could be cyclone shelters, dams or earthquake resistant houses. They could be illustrations of evacuation exercises, or children learning about natural disasters in schools. Send us illustrations of practical prevention measures which have been successful or which are being planned and carried out.

  • Photos illustrating the 1998 campaign theme "Prevention Begins with Information".
    Send us photos which illustrate the media (newspapers, radio stations, tv stations) reporting on natural disasters and natural disaster prevention. Illustrate other communication means in place to protect people from natural disasters such as satellites or illustrations of public information campaign activities in your area.

The best three photos in each category will receive prizes from the United Nations in Geneva and will be published in "Stop Disasters" magazine and "IDNDR Informs". All photos will be shown at an exhibit at the UN in Geneva and at the IDNDR regional unit in Costa Rica, and will be published in a commemorative volume.

The IDNDR Secretariat looks forward to receiving your material!

Please send your photos to the following address:
Mrs. Rekha Gupta
IDNDR International Photo Contest
Promotion and Public Awareness Unit
IDNDR Secretariat
Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10

Please note that the photos will not be sent back and will be published by the IDNDR Secretariat in its publications.

* * * *

Monthly Feature Topic Page