Selina Akter is a middle-aged humble woman from Dolon, a village of Buraburi Union, Ulipur, Kurigram. She lives in this Northen belt of the country in a joint family of 8 members. For the last two years, her husband has been paralyzed and she supports him to run their catering business.
When the SUFAL* project began working in this flood-prone region, Selina decided to dedicate her spare time for this project in order to help her community. Through screening, Selina was identified as an active community member to disseminate early warning information to wider community. She, along with 16 other team members, was oriented on flood history of the area, water level, flood awareness in community before and after the flood and much more. They shared their opinion on how they can disseminate the early warning massages and take action to that. Selina was selected as a recipient of early warning voice messages generated by SUFAL.
Seven days before the monsoon flood in July last year, Selina started receiving early warning massages on her phone twice daily, a week ahead of the impending flood. These messages contained information of height of water level, awareness massages for COVID-19, preparatory activities for everyone as well as list of the vulnerable people in her community. Her role was to share these messages within the community while also preparing her family for evacuation. She herself took precautionary measures which included storing dry food and drinking water, vegetables, fuel, children’s clothing, medicine for all and sanitary napkins.
During the flood, the water reached her yard but did not flood the inside her house. In her life in this village, Selina has witnessed several floods, however, this one was particularly aggressive as the water arrived not once, not twice, but three times. Although the intensity of the flood was severe, “upon receiving these massages, people took action in accordance and as a result, there was less damage during this year’s flood.”, shared Selina.
In previous years, Selina’s community did not receive voice massages and announcements were also not very frequent. However, since being a part of SUFAL project, she received cautionary messages on her mobile and was able to take precautionary action for this. She even lent her own mike to the announcers so that more and more people could hear the cautionary message and take necessary actions.
“I became more alert after I came to know about the early warning as they sent us three same voice massages prior to the flood. Even during the whole month of flood, we received daily flood updates including the dates when water level is going to rise. This year we received a lot of information about what is coming in future and was better prepared as a result.”
Selina feels proud to be a part of SUFAL project and being able to help her community in crisis period. CARE Bangladesh strategically puts women in the core of all projects because women are multipliers of impact. Just by involving an individual like Selina, a whole community was benefitted and was saved from what was one of the most severe monsoon floods in the recent years. The monsoon flood in July 2020 inundated 21 northern, north-eastern and south-eastern districts in Bangladesh affecting over 3.3 million people.
*SUFAL, in border term, Supporting Flood Forecast-based Action and Learning in Bangladesh is a consortium project of CARE Bangladesh, focusing on reducing the vulnerability of flood-affected population of Bangladesh by using forecasts and early warning system to trigger funding and early actions prior to monsoon floods.