UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


IRDR Monthly Seminar: Communication in a crisis

01 February 2022, 5:00 pm–6:00 pm

Federico M. Federici

How can crisis communications be effective in multilingual settings? Using Sierra Leone as a case study, Professor Federico M. Federici discusses how translating UNDRR terminology led to an increase in risk reduction activities.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL students




Professor Peter Sammonds – UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Room 106 Lecture Theatre
Roberts (Engineering) Building
Torrington Place

Crisis communication in multilingual settings can be inefficient if residents cannot rely on information in a language and format they can access and understand. Institutions, risk managers, and personnel of international humanitarian organizations operating in Sierra Leone experience difficulties establishing equal access to crucial information in both ordinary and emergency contexts. Sierra Leoneans witnessed the deadly effects of culturally inappropriate risk communication during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, when communication strategies ended up in crisis, thus reigniting tensions and creating misunderstandings. YMCA Sierra Leone called for a reform to crisis communication strategies. One of the action points was to increase disaster risk reduction training and community-focused activities around preparedness among young residents and across urban and rural populations. The drive to increase preparedness met with the reality that the conversation was reliant on a fluent understanding of disaster risk reduction principles in English. This talk will reflect on how a project to translate the UNDRR Terminology from English into multiple languages is strategically used to involve more Sierra Leoneans in risk reduction activities.

We are delighted to welcome Federico M. Federici, who is Professor of Intercultural Crisis Communication at the Centre for Translation Studies, University College London. He holds a Laurea in Foreign Languages (Rome La Sapienza University), and a PhD in Translation (University of Leeds, UK). Previously, he designed the curriculum, founded, and directed the MA in Translation Studies at Durham University, UK (2008-2014), a European Master’s in Translation (EMTTM) accredited programme, where he founded and directed the Centre for Intercultural Mediation. His research focuses on translators and interpreters as intercultural mediators, online news translation, and the study of translation in crises. Federico was member of the EU-funded INTERACT Crisis Translation Network. He is currently the principal investigator of “STRIVE: Sustainable Translations to Reduce Inequalities and Vaccination Hesitancy”.

About the seminar series

The IRDR monthly seminars are open to staff, students, IRDR members and the public. Due to current restrictions on campus, only current IRDR Master's students can attend in person, but the seminars will be livestreamed and available to view on YouTube afterwards. We hope to welcome members of the public back on campus soon.

Please note: This seminar will be recorded and available online after the event.