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World Radio Day 2016: How radio saves children’s lives

37 years after The Buggles claimed that Video Killed the Radio Star, the world is still proving them wrong. In Canada, many of us can’t imagine a world without smartphones. But that is a reality that exists in much of the world. February 13 – World Radio Day – is a chance for us to recognize the powerful force of radio in preparing for and responding to disasters. The theme for World Radio Day for the UN this year is “Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster”.

When disaster strikes anywhere, radio is often the first thing we turn to for answers. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the earthquakes in Nepal, radio has time and again proved a life-saving tool for victims and vulnerable people, who are desperately searching for answers – what is happening? Where can we get help? When will we be able to go back to school, to go home?

Radio is a tool to reach the most vulnerable and remote children and families

In some of the most remote areas of the world, radio is often the only way people can access information. Places where broadband fails and electricity is sporadic at best. At UNICEF, we take advantage of radio to reach the world’s most vulnerable children in the world’s most inaccessible places because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

Radio vital to UNICEF’s response in emergencies

“In the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the typhoons in the Philippines, or the earthquakes in Nepal, UNICEF used radio to inform parents about immunization drives, and to teach about the importance of hygiene and clean water,” says Paloma Escudero, Director of Communications for UNICEF. “In Gaza we use radio to teach parents how to keep their children safe, reminding them about staying away from windows, taking cover when violence erupts.”

During the Ebola crisis in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, when children were forced to stay home, UNICEF not only used radio to bring them information about how to keep safe from infection, but to teach them their school lessons so they could keep up with their classes.

“We welcome World Radio Day as a reminder that radio, the first mass communication medium, is still as vitally important in the 21st century as it was in the 20th,” Escudero says. “And we encourage greater investment and attention to keeping radio alive around the world.”

#RadioSavesLives and today is the day to talk about it. Add your voice to World Radio Day 2016 and tell the world what radio means to you.