Going Beyond Body Count In Haiyan Aftermath

“The local and international journalists descending on Tacloban and other devastated swaths of the Philippines can play a far more active role than waiting for official body counts. 

After the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, the Dart Center interviewed Irwin Redlener, MD of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness based at Columbia University. Redlener suggests a five-point disaster agenda for journalists which have special relevance to the Philippines’ catastrophe:

  • The first issue is: are human needs recognized and being addressed? This is a primal responsibility of government.
  • The second thing is: are there ongoing threats? And are they being addressed?… Have appropriate steps been taken to get people out of harm’s way? This is something where reporters on the ground could play an important role.
  • The third big thing is the issue of identifying survivors and dealing with psychological trauma on the largest imaginable scale… Are there systems in place to do everything humanly possible to find and reunify family members? Are there systems available to support the emotional needs of people? This is in the realm of what’s called psychological first aid, and this is another thing that reporters can be looking for.
  • What comes next for people in makeshift shelters? What is the plan? This is something which needs to be tracked
  • Unrelenting monitoring of the recovery process… When you say recovery to people in government, they’re thinking about rebuilding buildings that are broken and infrastructure. We need to redefine that. You’re not recovered until people are recovered, which means social systems, housing, those human needs.”