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Crisis and Risk Communication during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons from Local Governments

Local government units (LGUs) have played a major role in implementing the government’s pandemic response since 2020. An important component of the pandemic response is crisis and risk communication. This Policy Note discusses the experiences of four cities in Metro Manila, namely, Pasay, Manila, Caloocan, and Navotas, in implementing crisis and risk communication at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected through interviews with LGU representatives and augmented by a social media search and content analysis of the four LGUs’ COVID-19-related posts on Facebook. Findings show the usefulness of digital tools for internal and public communication, in tandem with traditional channels like face-to-face communication and printed information-education-communication materials for target audiences with limited access to modern tools. The Note emphasizes the importance of institutionalizing communication planning, monitoring, and evaluation—a gap found in all four LGUs—and beefing up their communication workforce, skills (especially in crisis, risk, and science communication), equipment, and infrastructure. LGUs are advised to leverage social media not just for delivering information but also for addressing fake news and increasing transparency and responsiveness to their citizens.


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