Monthly Archives: July 2015

Crisis Communication 101: Reporting the Boko Haram Crisis in Cameroon

CamAs an SOS for communicating on the current state of events in Cameroon, DC Communications has come up with some useful guidelines for effective communication during this period. Firstly, communicators need to know at what stage of the crisis we are in at the moment. From observation, we are at the Crisis Recognition stage. This means three things should take precedence to any communicator at this time: Perceived Importance, Immediacy, and Uncertainty.

For Perceived Importance, it is very necessary to access the current crisis situation, its dimensions and likelihoods.  This entails providing information on; state of victims, what is being done to address the situation and prevent a re-occurrence, any teams available to help on the ground, and also contacts provided for information and assistance. Immediacy deals with the pace at which stake holders are taking action. What is the government doing and at what pace? What are the victims/ locals doing and with what restrains?

Lastly, Uncertainty has to do with the amount of ambiguity still surrounding the crisis. This will help propel action. Low or high ambiguity will depict the amount of pressure and commitment stake holders should apply to the crisis situation.

That said, the points below are some of the points DC Communications uses as ‘Fist Aid’ measures in a Crisis Situation. The list comprises of some key ‘Don’ts and Dos’ when gathering or disseminating information during a crisis situation like what is happening in Cameroon at the moment.

  1. Avoid serial reproduction problems. Be closest to the source as possible. Am sure you can imagine the amount of emotional damage caused by misinformation.
  2. Don’t try to sound like a Mum. This means, you do not try to withhold or modify negative information with the aim of keeping short term peace or protecting someone. The truth shall surely out one day. You definitely don’t want to be the bad guy at the end of the movie. The point of concern will now be how you release the facts. Facts released will propel action towards them.
  3. Avoid message overload. If you are Head of any team where you are privileged with so much information, systematically release information. Message overload usually results to distortion of facts.
  4. Do not use wrong crisis templates for current crisis. In essence, do not use old crisis situations to influence present crisis situation reporting. Treat the crisis as fresh. You can only use old crisis at the Post Crisis stage. At this point of the current crisis, you don’t need old crisis inspirations. It may limit your receptiveness to newness.
  5. Develop useful networks for consistent information flow from different angles.
  6. Develop a contact list for various types of information.
  7. Clarity, Timeliness and Depth are of essence.
  8. Make sure you are persuasive when you communicate. These involves elements like emotion, reason etc.
  9. Make use of experts from different fields when talking on areas you are not an expert in e.g the Military, Governance, Islam etc.
  10. Most especially, tell stake holders who to contact, when and how. Provide this information repeatedly using the most accessible medium at the moment. Note that, diverse stake holders may need different treatment . Do not neglect that.

Communicators should know that, handling and communicating about a crisis situation varies from stage to stage. By so doing, the most important question to always start with is; where are we with the Crisis? This will definitely influence what steps to take and with what gravity. With the way the system functions in Cameroon, I understand implementing all of these maybe challenging. However, if we care about our community we will strive to do what we have to do. For the recent Boko Haram attacks to be prevented from being replicated, communication channels should be clear. Flow of information from top to bottom and vice-versa is indispensable. With the help of Timothy Coombs, DC Communications could only help in making these tips available. It’s now our responsibility to act. Timothy Coombs is a veteran in the field with many publications on Managing Crisis Communication.

SOBA Foundation talked Empowerment, Migration and Unity

Soba p 1In the heart of this year’s nostalgic summer, SOBA ( Sasse Old Boys Association) Germany last weekend organized a People Empowerment Forum in Essen- Germany, to meticulously derive a road map to enhance their participation in mitigating some challenges in Africa .The forum had well defined focus areas stemming from contemporary challenges the African continent is facing. They deliberated on what could be done with respect to empowering individuals both within and without their immediate communities. They sought to identify possible causes of illegal migration as a route to handling migration challenges, and also stressed the need for unity, if any of these steps in the right direction will be transformed from abstract to tangibles.

Subsidiary discussions at the forum touched on possible options to promote the Cameroonian Culture, facilitate Developmental Cooperation between Germany and Cameroon, and support individuals/institutions actively involved in the Development of the African continent. The event’s panelists also emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora groups as a key antidote in handling challenges surrounding pertinent issues like Migration, Refugees Crisis and Diaspora projects.

Out in “another man’s land”, some people including members the SOBA Foundation surely still uphold a sense of loyalty to people and issues associated to their country of origin. SOBA Foundation Germany is a group of well groomed, neatly put together, charismatic men with a vision to strengthen cooperation between Diaspora Groups in their community for the benefit of their continent of origin-Africa. The association is compose of ex-students from the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, Buea – Cameroon, who are currently living in Germany. Generally, referred to as an elitist institution, the St. Joseph’s College Sasse, popularly called “Sasse” is without reservation, a renowned High School in Cameroon which raises young men with self-assertiveness and resilience as evident in the institutions products even decades after High School days.

From diverse works of life, ranging from the fields of Engineering, Communication, Health to Business and Finance, the SOBANS converged in their “uniform”(well fitted black trousers, white shirts, black coats and bow ties), all looking alike as obtained back in their High School days where they made their first steps towards becoming today’s men. Minimizing their age differences and maximizing their goals as a team, they mobilized human and financial resources to make the event top notch.

The event was of course not void of typical Cameroonian merry making reunion traits. It was punctuated with Cameroonian snacks, food and drinks, and later capped with a Gala Night which left those present with so much to reminisce about. With massive support from their countrymen and well-wishers from diverse origins, the event was definitely not just another convention but one with much substance on their list of conventions.sobba

An Open Letter to President Paul Biya

Dear President Paul Biya,

PB 1I do not write this letter from a place of malice or disrespect but as a concerned citizen of the Republic of Cameroon. I try in my own way to represent our country positively but truth be told, the situation in Cameroon is really embarrassing. Sometimes, I wish I was not a part of this country but again, that thing in me will not let me dissociate from my country despite how disgraceful it is. I guess blood is thicker than water after all.

As a father is expected to keep his house in order before embarking on a journey, I wish you do same for our nation, Cameroon. I have some issues lingering on my mind. If at all you share in the concerns of your children “Pa Paul”, you will join me, not just in thinking about the following points, but in doing something about them too. I think it’s never late to begin.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry .Whether or not you want to remain President after your current mandate is actually not my focus at the moment. That notwithstanding, I am sure we agree that you will one day leave the Unity Palace. However, whenever that will happen is not my place to determine. What I worry about is if you have taken up time to think about what will become of the nation and your children when you leave power. I worry about the state of the country at the moment and the fact that it gets bad by the day, with even stronger evidence that it will get worse when the façade of stability and peace we have now, no longer exists.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Cameroon’s public debt is rising. The country’s public debt rose from 3.9% in 2011 to 7.6% in 2013, not even up to a decade after our debts were cancelled. According to the World Facts book (2013), the country has a literacy rate of 71.3%, a GDP of $51.61 billion (2012 est.) on PPP, with an unemployment rate of 30% (2001 est.). The amount of people living below poverty line is at 48% (2000 est.).Youths are settling for crumbs abroad due to no jobs at home, despite their relatively good intellectual capacity. Even a necessity like potable water is scarce while MPs are rather reducing beer prices.  There is also the obvious serious division between the French and the English speaking Cameroonians. Then the power tussles between ministers to fill their “personal treasuries” rather than the national treasury doesn’t help matters. Having grown up in Cameroon, I think these figures are a little far from the reality. In my opinion, the situation on ground is worse than what is depicted in these statistics.

Pa Paul, I worry, I really worry. Is this the Cameroon you will leave us with? Is this the kind of legacy you will want to have attached to your name? With this state of affairs, the country may worsen due to the lack of an appropriate replacement since potential candidates are busy fighting each other for either more money or titles. Pa Paul, please put the house in order before you leave. We have suffered enough. Don’t make it worse by leaving it as it is, and leading us into a dark path. It will definitely result to chaos. Please, restructure the public sector to prioritize efficiency and equality. See into our indebtedness.  Allow potential replacements to feel free to air their aspirations so that we can know in what direction our country could be heading. As clueless as we are now, we can only say this will definitely have a direct bearing on the chaos we will find ourselves in, if that time comes when we are still not ready. The cyclical interdependent poverty we experience in Cameroon may become even severe if we continue like this. Pa Paul fix it, fix it, please fix it.

God Bless Cameroon,

Darlene Musoro.