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Communication in disaster management

Importance of effective communication in disaster management

Effective communication is recognized as integral to disaster management. According to Kunz, Reiner and Gold (2014) proper information sharing and exchange between the emergency managers, the affected victims and the information sources is necessary to appropriately manage the disaster events. Effective communication is needed to manage probable risks of the disaster. For instance, communicating the impeding dangers of the disaster is important in ensuring that the neighboring communities take precautions to allay the impacts of the hazards. Similarly, coordination of relief operations to the affected victims requires proper communication of the targeted number as well as the amount of resources needed to fulfill the needs of the affected persons (Paton & Johnston, 2017). In essence, the relief operation team, from the incident command center needs to communicate properly with emergency managers at the disaster site to have a proper understanding of the nature of the help desired by the affected victims. Kunz, Reiner and Gold (2014) have also reported that assessing the extent of damage and mobilizing for resources and reconstruction requires effective communication between emergency managers and persons at the incident command center. Proper communication between the emergency managers, relief operation team and the affected victims is therefore necessary in an aftermath of a disaster if proper management of the same is to be attained.


There are different communication tools that can be employed to convey information needed in providing lifesaving response to affected victims following a disaster. In most cases, organizations rely on technology solutions involving the use of cell phones, and GIS imaging technology to analyze the extent of damage, to communicate with the victims and coordinate evacuation strategies (Paton & Johnston, 2017). There are however, some factors that impede proper communication, thus affecting negatively the outcome of disaster management process. Loss of cell phones during calamities is likely to affect negatively the communication process. Similarly, establishing communication in remote area has remained a major challenge due to poor satellite and network systems (Kunz, Reiner & Gold, 2014). Lack of consistent regulatory and legal policies also impedes the effectiveness of communication. The policies should support proper links between disaster managers, service providers and telecommunication authorities for proper communication to be observed during disaster mitigation process.

Four Steps of Effective Communication

The four significant steps of effective communication include listening, processing, organizing and responding. According to Yildiz (2017) responders are required not to just hear the information being conveyed, but to also listen by giving attention to fully receive the message. The processing stage requires the listener to understand the contents of the message. The processing stage is vital in any communication process since it determines the value of the response that will be given by the listener.

Organizing stage is important in cases where the message conveyed is unclear. The receiver will embark on decoding of the message and conveying it back to the sender for further clarifications. The stage also influences the accuracy of the last step and thus contributes towards the effectiveness of the communication process (Evans, Hearn, Uhlemann & Ivey, 2017). Lastly, the receiver gives a response upon understanding the contents of the message. The nature of the response and its effectiveness in answering the specific message conveyed is dependent on how well the prior stages were conducted. As such, the four steps identified above are vital in ensuring that an effective communication between the sender and the respondent is attained.


Evans, D. R., Hearn, M. T., Uhlemann, M. R., & Ivey, A. E. (2017). Essential interviewing: A programmed approach to effective communication. Nelson Education: Ontario, Canada

Kunz, N., Reiner, G., & Gold, S. (2014). Investing in disaster management capabilities versus pre-positioning inventory: a new approach to disaster preparedness. International Journal of Production Economics157, 261-272.

Paton, D., & Johnston, D. (2017). Disaster resilience: an integrated approach. Charles C Thomas Publisher: Springfield

Yildiz, A. K. (2017). Effective communication skills to manage the library: relations between managers and librarians. Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries1(2), 141-153.