Bangladesh Red Crescent activates Early Action funds to save lives

May 20, 2020

Forecasts of the landfall of a severe tropical cyclonic storm named “Amphan” in the West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts have triggered the release of funding to reduce its impact on vulnerable communities living in the 13 coastal districts of Bangladesh.

Cyclone Amphan is expected to hit the western regions of Bangladesh on Wednesday, 20 May 2020 with core wind speeds of 160 km/h and gusts of up to 180 km/h. The Bangladesh government and Bangladesh Red Crescent’s joint Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) has started evacuating thousands of people.

Based on the projected track and intensity of Cyclone Amphan, Bangladesh Red Crescent has activated their Early Action Protocol in 9 most vulnerable coastal districts of Bangladesh. Red Crescent activated tier 1 of the Early Action Protocol which allowed them to mobilize up to 75,000 US dollars. Soon after, the tier 2 was initiated, which is the pre-agreed amount of 138,000 US dollars from IFRC’s designated fund for anticipatory action, Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

As per the protocol, Red Crescent and CPP are supporting evacuations, helping the population to bring their valuables with them to safety, and ensuring availability of dry food and drinking water in at least 40 cyclone shelters. Precautions are being taken to make an effort in reducing exposure of community members and responders’ exposure to COVID-19.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Md. Feroz Salah Uddin said:

We are scaling up our preparedness measures and early actions to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who are at the direct path of cyclone Amphan. The current COVID-19 crisis is slowing our efforts down, but our volunteers are not stepping back from reaching out to the most vulnerable communities.”

Red Crescent had allocated early action funds in their 13 coastal district unit offices to be able to mobilize them in case of any disaster that threatens life and livelihoods of the vulnerable coastal population. Red Crescent activated these resources, immediately after Bangladesh Meteorological Department hoisted Signal 4, to support CPP and BDRCS unit offices prepare for the approaching threat. As the forecasted wind speed increased, BDRCS also activated the Forecast based Action by DREF with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Early action of BDRCS and CPP includes:

1. Enhancing early warning dissemination and coordination of CPP and BDRCS volunteers

2. Supporting local authorities to clean and set up cyclone shelters, including additional safe shelters identified by the government

3. Helping communities to relocate themselves in the safe shelters

4. Providing dry food and drinking water for temporary residents of safe shelters

5. Installing handwashing points and providing soaps and face masks in the safe shelters.

Red Crescent and CPP’s early warning and early action were enhanced by this decentralized funding made available in early 2020 with the support of its partners. This decentralized local disaster readiness resources have allowed Red Crescent and CPP undertake timely early actions while preparing to activate global instruments, such as the final tier of FbA by DREF. The local funds were mobilized as support to the FbA by DREF with the sole objective of reaching the vulnerable population with as much support as possible within due time.

Earlier in March this year, before the pre-monsoon cyclone season, CPP and Red Crescent coordinated with the Bangladesh government to customize the national cyclone preparedness protocol and early warning messages in line with COVID-19 situation.

Red Crescent’s initiatives on early action for readiness are being supported by its partners, IFRC, American Red Cross, German Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, and other Movement partners.