The power of information to save lives

The power of information to save lives
19 November, 2019

CARE’s SHOUHARDO III, a food security program with funding from USAID and Government of Bangladesh, participated in the workshop on “Improved Weather and Flood Information System for Community Based Risk and Resource Management” held on 19th November 2019 at Six Seasons Hotel, Dhaka. The event was organized by Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), SHOUHARDO III’s new technical partner in advancing its resilience-building among the communities it supports in northern Bangladesh. The new partnership will deliver essential life-saving information in preparation for rains and floods that frequent SHOUHARDO III areas. By broadcasting voice messages in the communities, RIMES will work with the government’s agencies – Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) and Departments of Agriculture Extension (DAE) and Livestock Services (DLS) – to provide upazila-specific weather forecasts, which is currently available at the district level. Representatives from various Ministries, government departments, and wider stakeholders including chief guests Md Mohisin, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and relief and Md, Mahfuzur Rahman, Director General, Bangladesh Water Development Board, shared their perspectives and recommendations to the CARE and RIMES initiative. “We are excited about this initiative as it is fully aligned with the government’s vision to make Bangladesh a resilient country”, said Md Mohisin from MoDMR.

SHOUHARDO worked with RIMES during its second phase where, as one of the primary results of the partnership, the communities had increased trust with the forecast. Moreover, the farmers and the communities in general used the information they received on time for better planning in planting and harvesting their crops, when to dry them, when would be the best time to work in the field and how to prepare their other livelihoods such as livestock. The current partnership will focus on community response/early action, improved weather and flood forecast; early warning information system, enhanced capacity for local analysis, localizing weather information and sector specific advisories.

Building on these lessons, SHOUHARDO III envisions to have deeper engagement with the government agencies who have been supporting the communities on the ground such as DAE and DLS. It also aims to strengthen the Union Disaster Management Committees in the 115 unions it works with in eight districts – Habiganj, Kishoreganj, Sunamganj and Sylhet in Haor area, and Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Kurigram and Sirajganj in Char area. The location-specific early warning information with better lead time will help the farmers reduce losses during disasters, lower livestock deaths and increased sources of income. Prabodh Devkota, Assistant Country Director CARE Bangladesh highlighted about CARE Bangladesh’s overall engagement in areas of Humanitarian and Resilience efforts. He also highlighted that “the current effort will aim to expand the scope of early warning from 2-3 days to 10-15 days’ time frame; which will help government, development partners, communities and stakeholders to prepare and when needed ensure effective and timely response.”

Walter Mwasaa, Chief of Party SHOUHARDO emphasized, “Upon successful completion, the program will shift the conversation from what the weather will be to what the farmers should do”.

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