Editors: Ernest Jakaza, Hugh Mangeya and Isaac Mhute

Call for Abstracts: Book Chapters

Title of proposed book: Crisis and Disaster Management Communication in sub-Saharan Africa: Theory and Practice

To be published in the Routledge new Directions in PR & Communication Research Book Series: Strategic Communications in (Sub-Saharan) Africa

Since the turn of the 21st century, sub-Saharan Africa has had to contend with one crisis and/or disaster after the other. These crises and disasters have been spread over different sectors of the society including political, economic, social and cultural. They have emanated from natural and/or man-made phenomena (heat & cold waves, floods, cyclones, famines, etc), epidemics (cholera, typhoid, HIV/ Aids, COVID-19, etc), ideological differences (party conflicts, factional fights, wars, election rigging, legitimacy issues, sanctions) and greed (child trafficking, abductions, ritual killings, ownership wrangles, etc). Organisations and institutions are being affected and responding differently to these crises and disasters which have impacted differently on strategic communication ‘areas’ such as brand and reputation management communications. Whilst for an effective crisis and disaster management communication, organisations and institutions should have clear crisis communication and management plans, research into how organisations and institutions strategically communicate these crises is still scant. As such, it is pertinent for researchers to explore how various organisations devise management and communication ways for preventing and mitigating the effects of crises and disasters through protecting themselves as well as their stakeholders (Coombs, 2015). 

In spite of operating in these challenging conditions, organisations and institutions are, however, expected not only to deliver, but also to be competitive and relevant. Unfortunately, these crises and disasters significantly impact on the manner in which they operate and strategically communicate with their various stakeholders, both internal and external in furthering their goals and objectives. This implies that they should adopt and adapt new methods of strategically communicating in order to survive in the face of new environmental and operating challenges. Whilst they are, therefore, obliged to engage in strategic communication practices best suited for the contextual environments they are operating in, they have to be equipped with apt crisis and disaster management communication theories in order to engage in appropriate crisis and disaster management communication practices. To theoretically equip organisations accordingly in such difficult times, this call is for research into how institutions have had to adapt their strategic communication practices to have a competitive advantage. 

On national levels, there have been efforts to build and maintain brands in the face of crises and disasters. For instance, government departments, ministries and institutions have been on a drive to effectively communicate ‘brand Zimbabwe’ in the face of challenging hydrological, meteorological, geophysical, climatological and biological hazards. This is so because a crisis is a significant threat to a country or an organisation if not handled properly and can potentially tarnish an organisation’s reputation (Zaremba, 2010). However, the role of ethical communication in such an environment is also crucial. A balance between effective communication before, during and after a crisis and adherence to ethical requirements has to be achieved. Government departments and institutions have been largely criticised for failing to ethically communicate especially when faced with a crisis. Apart from that, there is a tendency by researchers to focus on crisis and disaster management at a macro national level only yet some of these crises and disasters are at a district, and even communal level. In as much as they might be guided by national policy, it is paramount at micro level for districts and communities to devise strategic communication practices applicable to their needs and capable of mitigating any future crises and disasters.     

Organisations across the globe have been found wanting especially on the relationship between theory and practice on crisis and disaster management communication. Governments are normally good at coming up with ‘blueprints’, roadmaps stipulating how they will respond to crises and disasters. However, there seem to be a gap between theory and practice. Considering the many crises and disasters that have befallen and approaching the entire planet in general (UNDP, 2020) and sub–Saharan African organisations and institutions in particular, it is pertinent to explore how this relationship is or has been realised.     

Research on crises and disaster management has largely been carried out from the physical sciences and/ or social sciences perspective. However, the place of linguistics and communication in effective crisis and disaster management cannot be ignored. Organisations and institutions require linguistic and communication practices in place for them to manage and survive in such a crisis and disaster infested environment. Proper crisis communication plans should be drafted and implemented, since in business deciding not to communicate properly is deciding to fail. There are numerous crisis communication plans that can be used but in order to strategically communicate, organisations and institutions have to tailor-make their communication plans to their needs, yet the role and nature of linguistics and communication in crisis and disaster management is still a virgin area of research especially in the sub-Saharan context.    

Abstracts are cordially invited towards an edited book volume that packages debates, trends and insights relating to crisis and disaster management communication in all types of institutions, including private and public sector organisations, formal and informal sector organisations, governmental and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), political parties as well as social movements and at both macro and micro level. Emanating from adverse weather phenomena – the abstracts should address a variety of subthemes including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Communication and (effective) disaster preparedness in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The social media and disaster/crisis management in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The mass media and crisis/disaster management communication in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Citizen buy-in in crisis/disaster management
  • Strategic public relations management 
  • Ethics in communication before, during and after crises and disasters
  • Brand and reputation management communication during crises and disasters
  • Health communication in crisis situations
  • Religious communication during crises and disasters
  • The politics in crisis and disaster management communication 
  • Models/ strategies of planning, managing and responding to a crisis/ disaster
  • Linguistic issues in crisis and disaster management in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Crisis and disaster management communication in a digital world
  • Innovation and creativeness in the face of crises and disasters
  • Research for crises and disaster management communication

Interested scholars, professionals and activists should submit abstracts of not more than 300 words

The Timelines 

 Abstracts should be submitted not later than 30 September 2021. If accepted, the full draft chapter (of not more than 6 500 words each) should be submitted not later than 31 December 2021.

(Proposed) Important Timelines and Deliverables

  1. Abstracts submission dates: 
    • 30th of September 2021 (deadline)
    • Abstract length: 300 words
  2. Feedback on abstracts: 15th of October 2021
  3. Full papers: 31st of December 2021 (deadline)
  4. Full paper length: 6000 – 6500 words
  5. Feedback on chapters: 28th of February 2022
  6. First proofs: 30th of June 2022
  7. Final volume: 31st of December 2022

Mechanical issues

  • Language: English (UK)
  • Abstract: Single line Spacing
  • Chapter Draft: 1.5 Line spacing
  • Referencing Guide: APA

Proposed Publisher: Routledge

Was this post helpful?