Bangladesh: Early warning mechanism reducing loss in the flood-prone areas

January 05, 2020

Many people like Md. Mojidul Islam, 44, from Lalmonirhat district in Bangladesh live under extreme risk of flooding every year. The nearby Teesta river overflows during the monsoon every year and causes serious damage to the crops and infrastructures of the nearby villages. While the floods interrupt daily life, they also damage the valuable assets that people have. But the story has been a bit different this year for Mojidul as no major damage occurred to his assets, though there was a flood that affected his house. Thanks to the community-based flood early warning system established in his community by Bangladesh Red Crescent Society which allows people like Mojidul to take proper early action on the occasion of any impending flood.

“The intensity of flood has increased in the last few years in this area. My house is usually affected at least two or three times during the flooding season every year. During the mega-flood in 2017, I had a loss of almost ten thousand taka as I could not move my valuable assets to a safer place,” Mojidul Islam said.

Mojidul Islam is a day labourer and has a wife and three daughters in his family. His house and some other household materials are the only belongings he has. Having his house situated very near to the river, he lives in extreme vulnerability. He is the witness of flooding and river erosion since his childhood and has seen many lands being devoured by the river Teesta.

The flood early-warning system, developed by Bangladesh Red Crescent under its Integrated Flood Resilience Program, made life a little easy for Mojidul and people living in the community. The people were also oriented and made aware of the flood marker and early warning system through orientation and micro-group sessions. The community disaster management committee and community disaster response team members also received training in the last one year which made them capable of responding to before, during, and after any disaster. The capacity of community volunteers and community disaster team members have been boosted by providing them search and rescue and first aid equipment. Flood markers have also been set up in different places of the community with explanatory signboards. The marker has green, yellow, and red marks which indicate different levels of floods. During the floods this year, the marker helped community people to measure the level of floodwater and take early actions.

When the flood was about to hit Lalmonirhat in July 2019, Mojidul and his family members were reached by the community disaster response team members well in advance and were advised to leave the house for safe shelters. Before leaving the house, he kept all his valuable assets in an iron hutch and kept it in a higher place (maacha). He came back to his house only after when the floodwater receded a few days later – and all his valuable goods were safe.

With a view to achieving community resilience, Bangladesh Red Crescent is running its Integrated Flood Resilience Programme in Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts. The flood early-warning system has been established under this programme. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are supporting Bangladesh Red Crescent in implementing the programme in the flood-prone areas.

Ashik Sarder, Disaster Management Officer, IFRC