12 febbraio 2010

Lo sforzo per riportare la normalità nell'etere di Haïti

Il blog della FCC riporta una corrispondenza di Mindel Della Torre, una funzionaria dell'Authority americana appena tornata da Haïti dove si era recata in missione umanitaria. Secondo le sue valutazioni nessuna delle due stazioni in onde medie autorizzate e solo dieci delle quaranta in FM sarebbero attive in questo momento. Ma il ruolo svolto è fondamentale, perché molti superstiti del terremoto non hanno altro modo per informarsi. La Della Torre cita anche l'azione di supporta condotta dalla ONG Internwes Network, specializzata in progetti di comunicazione per il terzo mondo e nelle aree di crisi. Il sito di questa ONG pubblica un videoreportage di Time Magazine dedicato al suo lavoro con le stazioni radio dell'isola.

On our last day, I also went to visit the nongovernmental organization called Inveneo. Inveneo is responding to the Haiti earthquake with much needed communications infrastructure for NGOs, such as Save the Children, Care, etc. Inveneo has deployed long-distance WiFi links across Port-au-Prince bringing high-speed Internet access - critical communication capacity - to relief agencies making a difference in Haitian lives. Inveneo, working with NetHope agencies, has now linked ten relief organizations in the Port-au-Prince. Inveneo is working with the Haitian ICT community to find immediate ways for them to participate in the reconstruction of their country.
I tried to meet up with the Telecom sans Frontieres crews who are providing free international calls in many of the refugee camps around Port-au-Prince (and now outside the city as well), but due to tremendously difficult logistical issues, I was not able to meet up with them. I did, however, chat with their staff about the wonderful work that they are doing in Haiti – as the very first telecom responder in Haiti they have played a key role in connecting the victims of the earthquake with loved ones around the world. You can see more about what they are doing in Haiti at TSF’s website.
I want to tell you about a special need in Haiti now – the radio and TV stations. The earthquake affected all of Haiti’s communications infrastructure, but the damage to radio and TV stations has been particularly debilitating because they are normally staffed 24/7 so the proportional loss of life and building and equipment damage was enormous. The impact of the earthquake has strained the ability to spread information about humanitarian relief and other messages, not to mention music and recreational programming. A good thing about broadcasting is that it can reach so many people at once – when it’s working. Now more than ever, radio and TV is a critical source of information for the people of Haiti – regarding location of food and water distribution, medical services, shelter, weather, etc. By the time we left, only six of 18 TV licensees were on the air, and their operations were intermittent. The two licensed AM radio stations were off the air because they couldn’t afford the fuel needed to run the generators that would power their transmitters. Of the 40 licensed FM stations, 30 were on the air, with a few able to operate between 12-16 hours per day. Damaged facilities and equipment, limited fuel and lack of advertising revenue are really hurting the broadcasters in Haiti now.
To help improve this situation, at the FCC, we are working with U.S. broadcast organizations to facilitate any assistance possible for the Haitian broadcasters – from equipment to programming. There is an organization on the ground in Haiti called the Internews Network. Internews is an international media development organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people needed news and information. It has responded to other disasters around the world and is in Haiti trying to help improve the broadcasting situation. At the FCC, we’re also exploring ideas to see what could be done to support Haiti’s broadcast media.

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