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Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Project

Regarding Coastal DRR Project of BDRCS

Project Overview:

Project Name:

Enhancing Institutional and Community Preparedness and Readiness in Coastal Bangladesh (Coastal DRR)

Project Start Date:

01 July 2017

Project End Date:

30 June 2019

Project Sector:

Preparedness

Project Sub-Sector/s:

Institutional response readiness, community disaster preparedness, organizational development, branch capacity building

Beneficiaries Reached in FY18:

5,954

Beneficiaries

Targeted in project life:

17,800 (16,000 community and school members + 1,800 volunteers and staff)

Technically Supported by:

American Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

Project Summary:

The purpose of this project is to strengthen the capacity of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and coastal communities to be more effectively prepared for and be able to respond to disasters, and to reduce related deaths, injuries, as well as have coping and mitigation strategies to lessen the adverse socioeconomic impacts of disasters.

The project has three major focus areas. First, it aims to modernize the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP), a national and early warning system run jointly by the Government of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society that is credited with saving many lives but now relies on old technology and equipment. Secondly, the project will help build the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society’s capacity at the branch and national levels by providing tools, knowledge, and systems to facilitate more decentralized, efficient responses while increasing financial self-sufficiency. Finally, the project also aims to enhance community disaster preparedness by sustaining and expanding initiatives focused on organizing, connecting, and building the capacity of community members, raising awareness and implementing school-based disaster risk reduction activities.

American Red Cross believes that greater investments in national society and community capacities in Bangladesh, as well as existing network systems and infrastructure, will contribute to sustainability in preparing for and responding to disasters for years to come.

Project Overview:

Enhancing Institutional and Community Preparedness and Readiness in Coastal Bangladesh

Based on the coastal risk assessments, BDRCS Strategic Plan for 2017-2020 and specific requests made by BDRCS to support coastal disaster preparedness and readiness, American Red Cross developed the Project for Enhancing Institutional and Community Preparedness and Readiness in Coastal Bangladesh. Project development was done from June 2016 to April 2017.

Project Overview

This project utilizes a top-down and bottom-up approach in improving disaster preparedness and response; while community-level activities are vital in increasing disaster readiness, they can only be effective if there are essential disaster preparedness mechanisms and infrastructure in place.

Project Goal

The goal of this project is to strengthen the capacity of the BDRCS and coastal communities to more effectively prepare for and respond to disasters and to reduce related deaths, injuries, and adverse socioeconomic impacts.

Project Objectives and Activities

There are three major focus areas for the project. First, the project aims to modernize the national Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP), an early warning system that is credited with saving many lives but now relies on outdated technology and equipment. In addition, the project will help build BDRCS capacity at the branch and national levels by providing tools, knowledge, and systems to facilitate more decentralized, efficient responses while increasing financial self-sufficiency. Finally, the project aims to enhance community disaster preparedness by sustaining and expanding initiatives focused on organizing, connecting, and building the capacity of community members, raising awareness through existing community radio programs, and implementing school-based disaster risk reduction activities.

Enhancing Cyclone Preparedness Program and Early Warning Systems

As per the request of BDRCS and as identified in the Strategic Plan of 2017-2020, the project will implement activities that will contribute to the modernization of CPP through: 1) strengthening mechanisms for real-time information-sharing between the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and the CPP, 2) piloting a new early warning system in select areas, 3) updating and maintaining existing CPP equipment and radio communication systems, and 4) strengthening capacity and motivation of CPP staff and community volunteers.

Institutional Capacity Building

Institutional capacity building activities will strengthen BDRCS’s organizational capacity at the branch and national levels by providing tools, knowledge, and systems for increased decentralized and digitized response, in line with global standards and best practices. This will be done through: 1) development of response tools for BDRCS at the national level and decentralization of those to branches, 2) providing trainings to branch staff and disaster response team members, 3) formalizing cash-based response systems at national and branch levels, 4) increasing branch level capacity in selected branches through trainings, support to development of Plans of Action and business plans. Additionally, activities will address weaknesses outlined in the BOCA, which includes enhancing branch financial self-sufficiency, improving infrastructure, and increasing stakeholder access to information.

Community-Level Disaster Readiness

These activities will be implemented in eight coastal communities within two districts. The selection of the districts and communities will be conducted following an assessment based on agreed vulnerability criteria. Activities implemented will include: 1) organizing communities and connecting them with different stakeholders, 2) forming Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMC), 3) conducting risk assessments and preparing community action plans, 4) developing disaster preparedness plans for community, schools and households, 5) conducting community and school evacuation drills, 6) incorporating improvements to evacuation routes, evacuation shelter facilities and schools.

Overview of Target Area

The project will be implemented at Dhaka headquarters of BDRCS and CPP, and eight communities in two of the most vulnerable coastal districts (out of 13 coastal districts). This assessment was conducted for selecting two pilot districts for project implementation. The assessment considered vulnerability of districts based on existing stakeholder support, opportunities for collaboration with ongoing projects, cyclone risk, storm-surge impacts in low-lying areas, capacity of implementing partners, and resource and training gaps.

Summary of achievements of FY18

As one of the significant components of the project, the improvement works for Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) has begun with signing of an MoU between CPP, BDRCS and IFRC as an agreement on working modalities and other terms which will help achieve the activities contributing to outcome 1. By now a refresher training for 23 CPP staff and volunteers has been conducted. These staff and volunteers will be conducting trainings for 1,200 CPP volunteers in Bagerhat and Patuakhali within the first quarter of FY19 as one of the activities under objective 3. A desk review of the current condition of CPP radio network across the coastal communities of Bangladesh is submitted by CPP – which will be validated through extensive field visits by technical teams from CPP, BDRCS, IFRC and American Red Cross prior to repairing and reinstalling as necessary.

BDRCS, being one of the response actors in disaster management of Bangladesh with its branches (also referred to as ‘units’) in all of the districts of the country, will be strengthened through capacity building of its response components in the headquarter and branches. Discussion with IFRC Bangladesh team to conduct Disaster Response Capacity Evaluation (DRCE) is being held with country and regional team. Training of 50 members of Unit Disaster Response Teams in both districts on basic disaster management and first aid has been completed – who will be equipped with personal protective gear and other response equipment within the second quarter of FY19. Improvement of working environment through small scale repairing and providing IT equipment is done according to their requirements.

In the community level, Sarankhola of Bagerhat district – one of the two project sub-districts – have begun to experience benefits of DRR projects already as BDRCS has not implemented such activities in the area since Cyclone Sidr operations. By now the project communities have been organized through formation of micro groups, Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMC) and Community Disaster Response Teams (CDRT) and linking them with BDRCS unit office in Bagerhat. The communities are enthusiastic to receive life-saving trainings such as first aid, search and rescue and be oriented on disaster preparedness and risk reduction measures.

In the first quarter, the project team conducted meetings with the government officials, Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and BDRCS higher authorities in headquarters, field level officers, volunteers, IFRC and other stakeholders to discuss the project and gather feedback while generating buy-in district selection was completed as part of project scoping initiatives, and community selection was approved by BDRCS Secretary General and placed for Managing Board approval in July 2017. Meetings were held with directors of key departments of BDRCS to discuss department-wise plans and how this project can contribute to those departments’ capacity building efforts. Project agreement was fully executed on 09 August 2017 and project launch ceremony was held on 20 August 2017. An orientation for CPP field officials and volunteers was held in presence of directors of BDRCS and CPP and country representative of American Red Cross.

Project advances made during the second quarter were critical to moving the project forward. In addition to finalization of staff reassignment and hiring in BDRCS NHQ, community organizers, who play a key role in implementing community activities, were recruited and hired in the second quarter. Field offices dedicated for the Coastal DRR project were identified near to the project communities in each of the districts and are stationed by Assistant Project Officers. Consultants for conducting baseline survey were hired planned for implementation of the survey in early Q3; the final baseline report will be submitted by the beginning of the fourth quarter. The log frame and Indicator Tracking Table (ITT) for this project were revised to determine more accurate targeted numbers for project beneficiaries throughout its LOP, based on the community selection. A work plan for the third and fourth quarter was also refined to ensure the project activities are implemented within the project timeframe.

Activity implementation began in full swing by the third quarter. In January, a refresher Training of Trainers (TOT) was held in the BDRCS national headquarters for CPP officials and volunteers who will be facilitating further training for CPP volunteers in the zonal and field level. Project oversight groups such as Project Steering Committee (PSC) and Project Implementation Committee (PIC) at the headquarter and unit levels, and Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC) at the community level were formed in this quarter. These groups will be consistently involved in project activities and share accountability for ensuring smooth and quality implementation of the Coastal DRR project. Data collection for baseline survey by the expert consultants was conducted and two drafts of the report were circulated with program teams in Dhaka and as well as the AMEE region and headquarters of AmRC. Having collected all the feedback and comments, the consultants are expected to share the final report by first month of the fourth quarter. Training of Trainers (TOT) were for Unit Disaster Response Teams (UDRT) were initiated in both districts who will be conducting trainings and sessions in the community level. Orientation on Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) were held for UDRT in both districts; the UDRT members will be mobilized in the communities to conduct the VCA in the first week of April 2018. Procurement of visibility materials is underway and expected to be completed within the fourth quarter. Community activities such as trainings to CDMC members and mock drills have also commenced by the third quarter and it is anticipated that the progress rate of the project will be boosted within the upcoming quarter.

In the fourth quarter of the project 20 trainings on basic disaster preparedness and first aid for school students were conducted covering about 600 students. MOU with the school management committees was signed between the project and all 20 schools. Awareness session on DRR was provided to about 1,200 school students. 2 teachers from each of the 20 schools were oriented on DRR and CCA curriculum – these teachers will be taking sessions on DRR and CCA according to a BDRCS textbook which is currently being reviewed and updated by project staff and consultant. CDMC of all eight communities were provided with basic DRR trainings. Trainings were provided to CDRT of each community on basic DRR, first aid and search and rescue. One training on basic DRR was conducted in each district for religious leaders as they are widely accepted members of the communities and people listen to their suggestions. Evacuation drills on cyclone preparedness in 4 communities have been conducted reaching about 6,000 members of communities. In May, the first project coordination and planning meeting was held in Bagerhat with participants from the program team in Dhaka office, unit offices, field offices and executive committee from both districts discussed progress and challenges of the project. District council chairman, who is also the chairman of Red Crescent unit, attended the meeting and shared positive feedback on the project activities. The chairman also committed that he will ensure the project activities are implemented without any obstruction and offered full support from district council for the communities where the project is being implemented.

The Coastal DRR project, with support from other PNSs and IFRC, are preparing to organize an orientation in the first quarter of FY19 for the chairmen of all 68 branch offices on Red Cross Red Crescent movement, their roles and responsibilities and how, as representative of the government, they can contribute to development of their respective units/branches. An orientation like this will be conducted for the first time in 28 years and is expected to contribute significantly in BDRCS branch capacity development.

Description of Key Lessons Learned

From Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) and baseline survey, it was found that there were several requirements in the communities – such as lack of water sources, livelihoods, weak shelters, etc. The scope of this project is, however, only DRR focused and only aims to reduce vulnerabilities of communities to natural hazards through institutional capacity building in the communities via formation of local groups, such as CDMC and CDRT, prepared to respond to disasters effectively. Previously, with British Red Cross support, BDRCS had implemented an integrated resilience project in some of the communities where Coastal DRR project is working in. It was observed that communities appreciate the approach of including other components of resilience such as livelihoods, shelter, water and sanitation hygiene, etc. in their program for these addresses many of their needs. This has been one of the learnings of the Coastal DRR project from the communities in Patuakhali. On the other hand, in Bagerhat, another district of the project where BDRCS have not implemented a preparedness program for many years, it was learned that, as new communities, they have been appreciating the activities of Coastal DRR project. They believe raising awareness of the communities can lead to better preparedness and lesser loss of life and properties in times of disasters. The project team is comparing the two districts to find a balance between the two modalities of preparedness building in the coastal communities and will integrate the learnings in project designing in the future.

Working with CPP in a time when Bangladesh had to be dealing with the world’s largest humanitarian crisis – the population movement – has been some challenge for the project. Substantial concentration of CPP and MoDMR was on responding to the crisis and working to manage the influx. However, as the influx came into a relatively stable condition, the officers and volunteers were back at their stations and started their regular activities. Consequently, the Coastal DRR project’s CPP activities, such as training of 1,200 CPP volunteers, were effectively scheduled to be conducted within the first quarter of FY19.

Institutional capacity enhancement of BDRCS has been a work in progress for the entire FY18 – as this involved a lot of discussions with relevant departments of BDRCS, IFRC and Partner National Societies. Other partners such as British Red Cross has started to work in improving capacities of BDRCS. Turkish Red Crescent is also in discussion to implement large scale hardware improvement for BDRCS. As a result, the project team is in continuing their discussions with the higher officials in order to ensure that Coastal DRR project’s activities to enhance institutional capacity of BDRCS is aligned with that of other Movement partners.

Photos:

Community selection assessment

Key issues identified in Sarankhola, Bagerhat:

  • Lack of cyclone shelter

  • Poor conditions of the cyclone shelter

  • Lack of training and equipment for CPP volunteers

  • Lack of motivation among the CPP volunteers

Students responding to baseline survey questionnaires tailored to determine their DRR knowledge levels.

Disaster related topics are available in the textbooks. Our teachers talk about those topics. As students need to memorize, they don’t find these topics interesting. Therefore, it is essential to provide practical education on DRR. – Headmaster, Londa Hafiz Uddin School

Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) being held in one of the communities of Kalapara, Patuakhali. The participatory approach included group discussion with community members on what challenges they face during emergencies and how they cope up with it. The findings are being analyzed and integrated into the project implementation design.

First representation of CDMC in the monthly Union Disaster Management Committee meeting on 30.04.18 in Sarankhola, Bagerhat.

Orientation on DRR for religious leaders in Sarankhola, Bagerhat. The religious leaders have high acceptability in the rural communities. These leaders will be educated and encouraged to spread disaster awareness messages to the community people.

UDRT members helping elderly people during relief distribution demonstration.

Photos by: DRM department, BDRCS

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