Millions of people are affected by disasters and crises around the world every year. According to a Relief Web report, 569 million people are affected by disasters every year. In addition, 98 disease outbreaks occured in 2017 according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Overcoming language and cultural barriers is one of the most vital and often overlooked factors in disaster and crisis situations. These crises present significant challenges for coordination and communication between the different responders on how to provide the most effective relief strategy. When earthquakes, hurricanes, and deadly disease outbreaks occur, it is imperative that accurate and timely translations are conducted to enhance communication between responders and subsequently increase the effectiveness of the crisis response.

In May 2017, inWhatLanguage’s CEO, Cody Broderick and Director of Social Impact participated in the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Global Forum, in Bangkok, Thailand, where they met with several UN Agencies and NGOs, including leaders from the WHO Health Emergencies (WHE) Program to gain a better understanding of the communication and translation needs of humanitarian agencies and front-line responders.

The CDAC Network is a growing platform of more than 30 humanitarian, media development, social innovation, technology, and telecommunication organisations, dedicated to saving lives and making aid more effective through communication, information exchange and community engagement. Since that point, inWhatLanguage has become even more committed to CDAC’s mission of improving information provision and two-way communication between aid providers and affected communities in emergency contexts.

In addition to working on applying to join CDAC as an affiliate member, inWhatLanguage will be attending this year’s CDAC global forum on Digital Inclusion and Community Voices: Stepping over the humanitarian-development divide. inWhatLanguage is looking to increase its involvement with CDAC, given the platforms unique approach to responding to some of the world’s most substantial crises. inWhatLanguage sees a unique opportunity to meet the critical language service needs of CDAC members who are handling crisis communications.  

After inWhatLanguage attended the 2017 CDAC Global Forum in Bangkok Thailand, the company gained an increased understanding of the importance of translation in disaster and crisis response and partnered with the WHO to conduct translations at no cost for the organization.

Specifically, inWhatLanguage has provided several services for the WHO’s World Health Emergencies program (WHE) program. The WHE focuses on saving lives and reducing suffering in times of crisis. inWhatLanguage assisted the WHE by translating training materials informing first responders on how to manage infectious hazards during a cholera outbreak into Tshiluba – a rare language used in a region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recently affected by a Cholera outbreak. To complete the translation required identifying and vetting Tshiluba language professionals. In addition, inWhatLanguage translated a video presentation for the OpenWHO on “Risk Communication for Influenza” into Spanish and French. The OpenWHO allows the WHO and its key partners to transfer life-saving knowledge to large numbers of frontline responders during natural epidemics, pandemics, and health emergencies

Translations like these are critical for preventing disease outbreaks from occurring and when they do, preventing them from getting worse. In the case of the Cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it was critical that the relevant materials to inform first responders on how to properly respond to the outbreak were quickly and accurately translated. With the proper training materials translated into the local language, the outbreak was able to be curtailed. People rarely think of the life saving nature of translation, but here at inWhatLanguage we know all about it.

inWhatLanguage’s CEO, Cody Broderick looks forward to attending this years forum. He hopes that he will be able to form lasting partnerships with CDAC member organizations responding to disasters and crises all over the world. inWhatLanguage is excited to partner with these organizations to help provide lifesaving translations.

Learn more about how inWhatLanguage is making an IMPACT in the world.