Communication professionals in London


I went to two events this week that were worth the time. The first, on Weds 30th November, was for independent consultants and hosted in Bermondsey by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

Two speakers brought different perspectives on the evening’s theme ‘The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes.’ Author Michael Townsend Williams urged us to pay more attention to our breathing especially in the midst of trying daily work situations. He should know something about stress having worked in advertising at Saatchi’s.

The second speaker, Ruth Butah, emphasised the importance of attitude, focus and determination to reach goals, and shared from her own life about juggling children and home with work duties.

It was good meeting some of the other PRCA members. Savvy and highly experienced communication professionals, it reminded me just how important it is to somehow keep embedded within these peer and mentoring relationships, both for learning and for encouragement. A couple of conversations have already clarified some career-related decisions. Thanks, Hasnath, for arranging this evening at such a great venue (Lexis PR, 75 Bermondsey Street, London).

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Niger, Communications and UNICEF

Zinder: blanket feeding
Zinder: blanket feeding for children under two in selected districts


Back in 2010 when I was working there as a communications specialist for UNICEF, Niger was facing a humanitarian crisis – a severe food crisis bordering on famine. Drought and high food prices had hugely distressed Nigeriens, especially outside the capital, Niamey: villagers such as the pastoralist pictured below (name withheld) and the two Tuareg men were seeing their livestock dying off because of the lack of food. ‘This year there was so little rain during the growing season that not only did the fields of millet not bloom, but the secondary greens used for animal fodder also failed.’*

By 10 October 2010, 263,273 children had been treated for severe acute malnutrition at nutrition rehabilitation centres. **

The World Food Programme told the BBC that 17 per cent of children (one in five) were acutely malnourished. This was well above WFP’s normal 15 per cent threshold for declaring an emergency.

Droughts followed by heavy rains that lead to floods in the Sahel region are, in fact, cyclical problems. Today, environmental challenges are exacerbated by population displacements caused by neighbouring conflicts in Mali, Nigeria and Libya.

And yet, life has to go on for the average Nigerien, even in the midst of a crisis. This includes being gainfully employed and supporting the country economically and socially, while solid sustainable solutions are sought for its current problems and longer term growth.

That search continues.

* BBC News 2010 report

** UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children 2011