Early Warning Message Dissemination [Bangladesh]

বন্যা পূর্ব-সতর্কবার্তা প্রচার (Bonna Purbo-Satarkabarta Prochar)

approaches_649 - Bangladesh

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1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

Project staff:

Mustafa Golam

+880 1718770373 / +880 1730799762


Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Project Manager, DRRWASH Project O⌀ਈce, Shukhsantir Bazar, Dhanghora, Gaibandha, Bangladesh


Project staff:

Razzak Abdur

+880 1730 799763 / +880 1730 799763


Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Project Engineer, DRRWASH Project O⌀ਈce, Shukhsantir Bazar, Dhanghora, Gaibandha, Bangladesh


Project staff:

Islam Saiful

+880 1730 799746 / +880 1730 799746


Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Field Officer DRR and Training, DRRWASH Project O⌀ਈce, Shukhsantir Bazar, Dhanghora, Gaibandha, Bangladesh


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Book project: where people and their land are safer - A Compendium of Good Practices in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (where people and their land are safer)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Swiss Red Cross (Swiss Red Cross) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:

1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

Emergency infrastructure including shelter and linked transport infrastructure

Emergency infrastructure including shelter and linked transport infrastructure [Bangladesh]

Emergency infrastructure including shelter and linked transport infrastructure, consists in establishing specific flood shelters (for people and animals) including flood-proof collective water sources and communication infrastructure as well as health and school facilities that may serve at the same time as emergency shelters during floods.

  • Compilador: TUHIN SAMADDAR

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

An effective system for dissemination of early warning messages was established among the vulnerable communities in Chars (riverine sandy islands) of Gaibandha district, Bangladesh, in order to strengthen their coping mechanisms and reduce loss and damage caused by floods.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Early warning systems are an essential element in building resilience through effective disaster preparedness and risk mitigation: the key characteristics of the approach entail linking the intervention units at community level with national and sub-national early warning systems. It also consists of developing the capacity of the local government institutions and organised communities to not only disseminate early warning but to effectively respond to floods. Merely installing an early warning system is not sufficient to equip communities to cope with recurrent floods; it needs to be linked to broader aspects of disaster preparedness and increased response capacity of communities and local government.
The vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) is the basis of all measures oriented at reducing disaster risks. The VCA was carried out with the involvement of local stakeholders, especially the target communities, to understand the vulnerabilities and risks associated with floods as well as to gain insight on existing capacities and capacity gaps that needed to be addressed. The process resulted in a risk reduction action plan which was to be jointly implemented by the target community and local government.
The risk reduction plan pointed to the need of having in place a mix of structural, management and contingency measures. This involved linking local, sub-national and national early warning systems, developing contingency and evacuation plans supported by establishment of safe places where people could move during floods. The risk reduction plan also highlighted the need to support household level protection measures - structurally this meant raising household plinth levels above flood levels. In addition, local early warning system was established through installation of flood markers/pillars, and warning flags at key sites. Capacities were built to internalise, monitor and consequently respond to evolving local flood situation.
Building communication channels that link the local institutions to higher level flood forecasting system resulted in streamlining information from source to destination. The weather forecast communication flow is both vertical and lateral – vertically it is a mix of web-based flood information and mobile telephony which begins at the Flood Forecast Warning Centre (FFWC) - the apex body that monitors flood situation in Bangladesh. FFWC transmits information to the sub-national local governments that have digital centres with trained personnel to access information from FFWC website. Trained entrepreneurs at these digital centres are responsible for monitoring flood forecasts and updating the Union Parishad (the lowest level of local body) and communities on evolving flood situation. By analysing and interpreting relevant information they play a key role in catalysing the early warning system. The local bodies , Union Parishads, use a mix of communication modes - such as miking (public address system), radio and cellular phone - to transfer early warning information to the communities. On the other hand, flood markers are installed locally that are adjusted according to increase in water levels. Designated trained persons – Youth Response Team - take the responsibility to do this. This is monitored by community and the Union Parishad.
In normal times, drills and simulations are conducted by trained team of village volunteers/first responders. They take the lead in organising evacuation and movement to safe places. The government (and project) brings in the logistic support, especially transportation, to facilitate evacuation and movement to safe places.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

General remarks regarding photos:

Approach of Early Warning System in DRRWASH project area in Gaibandha district.

2.4 Videos of the Approach

Comments, short description:

Video on Flood 2015 in the DRRWASH project area in Gaibandha including early warning intervention, in Bangla, link:





Name of videographer:

Tuhin Samaddar and Vabotosh Karmakar

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Kamarjani and Mollar Char union in Sadar Upazila and Haldia union in Shaghata Upazila of Gaibandha District


The entire intervention area is divided into 261 clusters. In each cluster, one local volunteer (YRT) has been nominated for preparedness and response operation. 30 Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) are actively monitoring the process under the guidance of three Union Disaster Management Committee (UDMC).

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date when the Approach was initiated:

less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

To promote resilient communities through improved flood preparedness that reduces loss and damage of vulnerable people's lives and protects their livelihoods in the chars of Gaibandha district.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

social/ cultural/ religious norms and values
  • enabling

The intervention built upon traditional coping mechanisms and indigenous systems of disaster risk management. The blending of the traditional and indigenous practices with contemporary knowledge and preparedness practices acted as drivers in terms of choice and adoption of technologies.

  • hindering

In earlier phases of the intervention, the cultural norm of not abandoning one's household even in extreme crisis hindered timely access to emergency infrastructure.

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • enabling

The DRR intervention facilitated leveraging of institutional financial resources (Local government budget) and secured cost contribution from target communities.

  • hindering

Lack of adequate capacities and resources with local government.

institutional setting
  • enabling

The Disaster Management Act and Standing Orders on Disaster of the Govt. of Bangladesh provides for a decentralised disaster management institutional setting from the central level to the local level.

  • hindering

In principle a decentralised disaster management structure is in place but due to operational and financial constraints they are unable to perform their mandated function.

collaboration/ coordination of actors
  • enabling

The initiative built a good coordination with state actors at various levels. From time to time it was also able to secure collaboration from non-state actors around specific thematic areas such as obtaining livelihood support in non-farm sector, synergising disaster risk management work, ensuring access of vulnerable communities to social protection measures.

  • hindering

Harmonisation of disaster centred initiatives is a time consuming process and very often does not lead to collaborations that harness existing synergies.

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • enabling

Disaster Management Act, 2012 provides the legal framework for disaster risk management in Bangladesh.

  • enabling

A set of policies supports the Disaster Management Act. Government's standing orders on disaster clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of various ministries, line agencies, local govt., mandated committees and other non-state actors in disaster risk management.

  • hindering

Policy enforcement across sectors remains weak in Bangladesh.

land governance (decision-making, implementation and enforcement)
  • enabling

Traditional rights to land are still accepted in Chars of Bangladesh .

  • hindering

Land ownership is complex in Chars given its unstable nature due to high vulnerability to river erosion. Char lands are controlled by the local elites, often residing in the mainland, who use their political influence to secure govt. collusion/indifference (though char lands officially belong to them) in exercising land ownership and land transactions. Eventually it is the elites who lease and/or rent out land to the char population.

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • enabling

Timely weather forecast allows communities to accordingly time their agricultural operation, especially the sowing operations

  • hindering

River erosion threats strongly disincentivise investment in SLM.

markets (to purchase inputs, sell products) and prices
  • hindering

Market forces are yet to develop properly in Chars which are by nature isolated geographical units, accessed only through time consuming and expensive transportation means.

workload, availability of manpower
  • enabling

Higher productivity of land in Chars allow for lower labour engagement in agriculture.

  • hindering

Disaster and higher profitability in mainland drives migration leading to labour shortages.

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • community-based organizations

Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC)

The VDMC is the key actor to perform disaster risk reduction activities in the communities. The covers supporting the conduct of VCA, conducted by external facilitators, by extending logistic support and securing representative participation of larger community (non-VDMC members) in the VCA process. The VCA helps VDMCs develop their action plans. The operationalisation of the plans is anchored in the VDMC and so is leveraging cooperation and collaboration from local government. The VDMC also acts as first responder and as custodian responsible for operation and maintenance of built emergency and health infrastructure. Assessing community needs, beneficiary selection, contribution collection and financial management of hardware are their other key responsibilities.
Contribution collection means mediating and collecting the contribution of users/ beneficiaries and local governments to the costs of the built facilities (plinth raising, WASH, flood shelters, etc.) in pre-agreed proportion.
Financial management of hardware refers to VDMCs engaging in all aspects of the construction process of small scale communal and household mitigation options (flood shelters, roads, bridges, household plinth raising, etc. ) and shouldering financial management responsibilities related to their construction and subsequent operation and maintenance. This involves managing finances (contribution from users/LGI/project); giving work contract and settlement of payment following work completion.

  • teachers/ school children/ students

Youth Response Team (YRT) members

YRT has been developed to promote volunteerism. Their main role is to support response and recovery operations during and after disaster. They are especially trained in Search & Rescue. As they are located in the community, YRTs actively engage in early warning dissemination. They act as focal person for monitoring and adjusting the flood markers. They support the Union Parishad in transmitting early warning to communities (as mentioned above) and supporting the evacuation of communities to safe places.

  • private sector

Enterpreneur of Union Digital Center

The lowest level of local government, the Union Parishad (UP), has a Digital Center to render ICT services to communities. These are run by local entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs are responsible for monitoring flood forecasts on the internet and updating the Union Parishad (UP) and community-based organisations (CBOs) on evolving flood situation. By analysing and interpreting relevant information they play a key role in catalysing the early warning system.

  • local government

Union Disaster Management Committee (UDMC)

The UDMC disseminates forecasts, warnings, and advisories locally. It also performs a lead role in response and recovery operations.

If several stakeholders were involved, indicate lead agency:


3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation interactive Key Actors: VDMC/CBOs and Local Government Institutions (UDMC) Activities : formation of CBOs, reformation of UDMC, VCA and volunteer selection
planning interactive Key Actors: VDMC/CBOs and Local Government Activities: preparation of risk reduction action plan, preparation of evacuation plan along with map of evacuation routes (route to be taken for the evacuation in moving to safe places), contingency plan development, planning of emergency and health infrastructure, Early Warning Systems (EWS) planning
implementation interactive Key Actors: VDMC/CBOs and Local Government Activities: Establish Early Warning System, emergency infrastructure, access infrastructure (wooden bridge, roads, etc.), household infrastructure
monitoring/ evaluation self-mobilization Key Actors: VDMC/CBOs, Local and Sub-national Government Activities: Developing Quality Assurance System, Community Review Meeting, Site visits/physical verification, quality and financial audit, survey and spot checks,
Initiation self-mobilization Ket Actors: VDMC/CBOs, Local Government and Private Sector: Activities: O&M of built infrastructure and Sanitation Marketing which involves supporting local entrepreneurs to establish local supply chains of toilet building materials through their own investment and build toilets for users that bear the costs. The project does not build latrines directly but rather mediates the linkages of users with the sanitation entrepreneurs

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


The flow chart explains application of the EWS and clarifies local linkages with national flood forecasting and warning centre (FFWC)


Tuhin Samaddar

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • all relevant actors, as part of a participatory approach

Since participatory approach has been adopted to examine vulnerabilities and capacities, the approach and technology choice to address risk and vulnerabilities was collectively decided.

Specify on what basis decisions were made:
  • research findings
  • personal experience and opinions (undocumented)
  • Government policies and mandates

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?

Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • field staff/ advisers
  • Anser-VDP (Village Defence Party) member
Form of training:
  • demonstration areas
  • public meetings
  • courses
Subjects covered:

Several training courses and workshops were organised on disaster preparedness and response:
1. Early Warning System (for UDMC/VDMC/ Anser-VDP/YRT/VCRP/Staff): Disaster context in Bangladesh, techniques to identify water levels against standardised danger levels, determining flood intensity by observing pillars and flags, dissemination strategies for early warning messages among the community, and role of stakeholders to warning message dissemination.
2. Evacuation Plan (for VDMC/YRT/VCRP): Response operation, preparing checklist for response, preparing risk and resource map, information collection and analysis, preparing evacuation route maps, and roles and responsibilities of respective stakeholders in effectuating evacuation plan
3. Response Plan (for UDMC): Importance of response plan, key constituents of preparedness and response, interpretation of Early Warning information from FFWC, creating contingency fund, search and rescue, emergency relief and first aid, identifying safe exit route and transportation, damage assessment, launching control room, involving existing manpower and resources in the community and other organisation, and prepositioning of rescue equipments.


609 VDMC/UDMC members were trained on various DRR topics. 255 local youth volunteers (YRT/VCRP) were also trained on early warning message dissemination, flood forecast interpretation, preparing evacuation plan and route map.
4 mock drill demonstration events were conducted by local government in which 276 community members participated. Refresher training was also organised for newly elected union parishad members on their broad mandate with specific reference to their roles and responsibilities in disaster risk management.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, greatly
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
  • regional
Describe institution, roles and responsibilities, members, etc.

CBOs/Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC)- on an average each CBO/VDMC has 17 members. Their roles and responsibilities entail assessments, beneficiary selection, developing and implementing Risk Reduction Action Plans (RRAPs) with special focus on disaster preparedness and response. A key function entails their engagement in Early Warning Systems (EWS) and planning and implementation of emergency and health infrastructure, shelter protection, and creating access infrastructure. Operation and Management of all built assets and infrastructure is their responsibility.

Local Government/UDMC: on average it has a 36 members. Standing orders on disaster of the government defines their roles and responsibilities which covers the entire gamut of functions associated with disaster risk management at the local level. Strengthening preparedness and leading effective response is critical to their mandate.

Specify type of support:
  • capacity building/ training
  • equipment
Give further details:

Megaphone, stretcher, Lifejacket, Lifebuoy, Torchlight, Raincoat, Gumboot, Rope and First aid box are some of the equipments that have been given to target communities. Further, the YRTs have received whistle, umbrella and apron for early response operation

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?


A joint monitoring team has been formed comprising representative of CBOs, local government and project staff.

If yes, is this documentation intended to be used for monitoring and evaluation?


4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Indicate the annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach in US$:


If precise annual budget is not known, indicate range:
  • 10,000-100,000
Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Swiss Red Cross

Above mentioned amount is for the Early Warning System Implementation approach only

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • none
If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • voluntary

All actions related to dissemination of early warning were performed on a voluntary basis.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


5.5 Other incentives or instruments

Were other incentives or instruments used to promote implementation of SLM Technologies?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach empower local land users, improve stakeholder participation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The participation of all local stakeholders, especially women, has improved considerably.

Did the Approach enable evidence-based decision-making?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The decision making especially with regard to effectiveness and quality of approach and technologies has been determined by the evidence on the ground.

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Since the implementation of technologies and maintenance of built infrastructure has been largely user led, it has improved their capacity to do the same.

Did the Approach mobilize/ improve access to financial resources for SLM implementation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

User contribution and govt. contribution was a mandatory component of the project which led to mobilisation of resources that supplemented project resources.

Did the Approach improve knowledge and capacities of other stakeholders?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Implementation of well designed capacity building plan cognizant of the needs of diverse stakeholders has improved the knowledge and capacities of relevant stakeholders.

Did the Approach build/ strengthen institutions, collaboration between stakeholders?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

the central element of the approach has been to ensure sustainability of benefits which cannot be attained without strong institutions collaborating around disaster risk management work. Thus, the approach led to improved collaboration between stakeholders and strengthened institutions.

Did the Approach mitigate conflicts?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The approach is based on conflict sensitive programme management. This allowed for pro-active identification of conflicts and tensions followed by measures aimed at their mitigation.

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The extreme poor and socially disadvantaged were especially targeted by the disaster preparedness approach

Did the Approach improve gender equality and empower women and girls?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Though significant improvements are there as women and girls are much more aware about disaster preparedness in general and flood response in particular, there remains room for further improvement.

Did the Approach lead to improved access to water and sanitation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

As part of strengthening preparedness to health hazards, water and sanitation infrastructure set up by the project has greatly improved access to water and sanitation

Did the Approach improve the capacity of the land users to adapt to climate changes/ extremes and mitigate climate related disasters?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Strengthened DRM capacities include improved climate adaptation and capacities to mitigate climate induced disasters.

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • reduced risk of disasters

Early warning system helps people prepare and act before the water level crosses danger level (which denotes the settlement is at risk of inundation)

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • yes
If yes, describe how:

Union Digital Center is an information hub that exists in the union where people have easy access. The technology is simple and the approach is easy to understand and has already benefited the targeted community. The anchoring of preparedness in general and Early Warning Systems (EWS) in particular in local government and its rolling out in collaboration with communities imparts high probability of sustainability to disaster preparedness measures. During the project cycle, two flood events of significant magnitude have tested the approach and technology and resulted in tangible benefits for the community. At the same time since sustainability considerations are inbuilt in project design and have guided the implementation of the approach and technology, the likelihood of their sustainability is very strong.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
A trained group of volunteer is available in the community
Response equipments are in place and ready to use if and when needed
Early Warning System facilitates people's timely access and movement to appropriate emergency infrastructure and protected shelters
Rapid evacuation, especially for physically challenged, children and elderly people, and cattle
Crops are saved due to timely action related to sowing and harvesting
Means of preparedness, such as boat, banana raft, portable cooker, firewood, oral rehydration solution, dry food can be collected beforehand
Balanced representation of community in governmentt mandated disaster committees
Coordination/ communication with development actors and local government/union parishad is more forthcoming
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Sustainability dimensions have been well considered and applied in adopted approach and technologies
Strengthened community institutions are in place to address disaster risk Management issues, especially those related preparedness and response mechanisms
Community and local government interface has been strengthened to devise appropriate disaster Management solutions
Decisions on preparedness approach and attendant technologies are taken collectively by stakeholders
A replicable model of early warning systems, emergency and access infrastructure has been established

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Long term maintenance of response equipments UDMC should play custodian's role; local people should contribute towards recurrent cost
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Replicability of the model might be difficult due to lack of funds and functionaries available with local government Support local government in negotiating more resources from higher levels of governance and Administration; build capacity of local government to utilise resources efficiently and effectively

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • interviews with land users

15 Key Informant Interview (KII)
2 Focus Group Discussion (FGD)

  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Three VCA Reports published by UDMC with support of DRRWASH project

Available from where? Costs?

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

Flood Forecasting & Warning Centre (FFWC), Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), SOD


http://www.ffwc.gov.bd/#, http://ddm.portal.gov.bd/sites/default/files/files/ddm.portal.gov.bd/page/a3f4cc27_7f7d_4c2b_a1b0_166fe6bef73b/udmc.pdf

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