"The only flag that I knew was green and red – my country's flag. Today I know how important black and red flags are."
The warning flag for cyclones is black and red. Dil Afroza Dipu is a voluntary emergency helper in Dalbanga South in Bangladesh. The country is exposed to various hazards – some of them man-made and some of them environmental. In the Gibika project, we have studied the risks in various communities and worked to develop solutions with the local people. In Dalbanga South, the priority is to equip people on the coast to deal with storms. The final workshop in the pilot phase was held in Dhaka on 23 May 2018.
The participatory DRR-approach focussing on women worked out very well in Bangladesh.
Some 40 participants listened attentively as the project team presented the results of the research and the specific measures on the ground. Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the ICCCAD Institute (International Center for Climate Change and Development), underlined how important the five-year collaboration had been for the success of the project. The long project term allowed strong networks to be developed in the communities, with the result that many responsibilities can now be shouldered at local level. It also made it possible to secure future partners. Negotiations are being held with BRAC, the largest NGO in Bangladesh, on how to consolidate and roll out at national level the programme aimed at improving the cyclone warning system in the south. There are also discussions with Jagonari, a local NGO in the Barguna district near Dalbanga, on ways to accelerate the training courses in the specific Gibika project communities (Dalbanga South and 5 other neighbouring villages). Dr. Hamidul Huq, professor at the United International University (UIU) and consultant to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, pointed to the effective way the exemplary participative approach in Dalbanga South is working. This can serve as a blueprint for future projects.
Kees van der Geest headed the Gibika research team and reports on the results during the seminar in Dhaka on 23 May 2018.
Kees van der Geest, Senior Researcher at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the person responsible for the Gibika field of research, said that, in some cases, methods for recording data were developed from scratch. "And they have provided some very promising results," the scientist added. The “Livelihood History Interviews“ and the adapted “Q-Methodology“ - special interviews tailored to the ground situation - have the potential to be used in further projects as well as Bangladesh. For the representatives of Munich Re Foundation, it was good to see that the principle "From Knowledge to Action" is being fully embraced in Gibika. Following an intensive period of research of two years, the project partners had a sufficient corpus of valid data to start the practical phase headed by the ICCCAD team. Istiakh Ahmed, the ICCCAD project coordinator and implementer, presented a brief assessment. This illustrated what elements of the project were most appreciated by the inhabitants of Dalbanga South who were involved. It also showed why the training courses proved so popular in the community, and why they were independently developed further. Important key elements included passing on knowledge to students and pupils through the media of plays and map drawings. Further, strong participation and inviting whole families, not just individuals, were important elements.
Dil Afroza and Kabir Howladar are DRR volunteers from Dalbanga South.
The final comments in the concluding workshop came from two voluntary emergency coordinators from Dalbanga South, Dil Afroza Dipu and Kabir Howladar, who both made an invaluable contribution to ensuring the success of the project. They were among the first to recognise the importance of preparing better for cyclones. It is only possible to prevent panic in an emergency and maintain control if the majority of the population has been properly trained on how to behave when danger threatens. In alarm situations, prompt and systematic action protects livelihoods – and saves lives!
The National Gibika Dissemination Workshop on 23 May 2018 marked the end of the support phase from Munich Re Foundation. But it also marked a new beginning, because all the actors involved on the ground in Bangladesh have clearly signalled that they wish to continue the work on their own initiative. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our project partners for the five successful and educational project years in Bangladesh.
29 May 2018
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