Raising awareness for early warning in Bangladesh

The new Gibika early warning system has worked successfully in Dalbanga South. During Cyclone Roanu, which raged through South Bangladesh in May 2016, many people reacted the right way. Disaster risk management in the village was further structured and strengthened during the second half of 2016.

When disaster strikes many lives are lost simply due to the fact that people do not know what to do. It is only when people perceive the risks and understand how to act in emergencies that lives can be saved and losses avoided. One goal of the Gibika project is to raise awareness of disaster risk management, especially of early warning, in exposed regions and to improve action. Since that first success during Cyclone Roanu, many further activities have taken place to strengthen resilience in Dalbanga South.

The Gibika awareness activities reached great numbers of people from the region.

A rich offer of activities
Since the first success of the early warning system during cyclone Roanu, the Gibika project team realised different types of awareness activities for strengthening the early warning system and training the community of Dalbanga South. People of all age groups - men, women and children - were involved in courtyard learning sessions, street plays and mock drills. The Gibika project team and local volunteer groups held student learning sessions and disseminated early warning material at workshops.
 
Enhancing volunteers' engagement
One of the fundamental ideas of the Gibika action phase in 2016 was to enhance the effectiveness of volunteer activities. Volunteers can play a crucial role in community-based disaster management. Enhancing volunteers' engagement and creating strong bonds within the community play a key role in early warning training and activities. This is an important step towards anchoring disaster prevention in the region even after the Gibika project ends.
 
Street theatre for children
Children are a key part of resilient communities. “Mim Abashon”, a Gibika partner, began to focus on the role of children in disaster risk reduction. At the balcony of the local school they performed a public play about the importance of disaster preparedness. The main message of the little drama was that everybody must move to the cyclone shelters when a warning is issued. Not evacuating was the main cause of the high numbers of victims of powerful cyclones in the past.
 
Children are excited to learn about disaster risk management through street theatres.
 
Preparation through mock drills
Mock drills are considered to be an integral part of capacity building for preparedness, as they can strongly influence behaviour before and during an emergency. The “Mim Abashon” group therefore held mock drills. The drill started with a wedding scenario. All of a sudden volunteers issued a warning and hoisted coloured flags to alarm the community. Experts then monitored the ongoing activities in the village - some of the villagers did not follow the instructions properly and neglected warnings. According to their knowledge, groups received tailor-made training. The people in the community showed great interest in the mock drill. 
 
Strengthening student skills in disaster preparedness
In November 2016, students from Dalbanga participated in school kit preparation activities facilitated by Gibika. The main objective of these activities was to enrich their knowledge of disaster preparedness and strengthen their capacity to take immediate decisions before and during disasters. The students identified the risk situation in Dalbanga and listed the risks according to their impact. Thereafter, they created a risk map of Dalbanga showing the environment, infrastructure and risk information. Students highlighted the priority of the Dalbanga cyclone shelter for evacuation. This is an excellent outcome. The students were very talented and enthusiastic to learn about and practice disaster preparedness.
 
Students from Dalbanga South proudly present their risk map.
 
Success despite rain and storm
Frequent rain and tidal flooding during the monsoon period from July to September delayed activities of the Gibika action team in Dalbanga South. Many activities had to be pushed forward to October. However, at the end of the year the following conclusion was drawn: different ways of addressing capacity building can be very successful. The reaction of the villagers and their excitement, especially the excitement among the young people involved, are important elements of and the first step towards ownership and sustainability.
 
14 March 2017

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