The purpose of this paper is to examine the information channels used by public and nonprofit organizations to communicate disaster risk information to Colonias residents in Hidalgo County, Texas. It seeks to find creative and proactive solutions for organizations to improve risk education to these constituents.
Initially a snowball sampling technique was used to conduct six face-to-face interviews. This was followed by an online survey sent to 64 reputational referrals, of which 23 completed the survey, generating a response rate of 34 percent. A comparative analysis between public and nonprofit organizations and the Fischer's exact test were employed to analyze the data.
Channel preferences for providing risk information varied with public organizations using the television (TV) and the nonprofit organizations using bilingual staff for outreach. The television, radio, public events, and bilingual staff were considered to be the most effective while social media (Facebook, Twitter, and city web sites) was not considered at all by both groups. Lack of funding and staffing problems were identified as the primary challenges.
One limitation is that the paper focusses on organizations serving Spanish speakers in the Texas Colonias. Future research needs to investigate how other localities at border sites where culturally and linguistically diverse groups might reside, receive and understand risk information. The role of cross-national organizations in creating internationally coordinated plans for disaster communication should also be explored.
It highlights the challenges faced by organizations in communicating risk, especially in border communities where culturally and linguistically diverse groups reside.
This research was supported by funding received from the Center for Spanish Language Media at the University of North Texas in 2010. The authors wish to thank the public and nonprofit sector officials serving the Colonias populations, who participated in these interviews. A special thanks goes to undergraduate students Paloma Garcia and Sarah Gregory and graduate student Michael Horn for helping with data collection and presentations. None of the conclusions in this paper necessarily reflect views other than those of the authors.
Arlikatti, S., A. Taibah, H. and A. Andrew, S. (2014), "How do you warn them if they speak only Spanish? Challenges for organizations in communicating risk to Colonias residents in Texas, USA", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 533-550. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-02-2014-0022
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