Author: AHM Bazlur Rahman, June 16 2016 - As part of addressing the risk of Cyclone Roanu, eight community radio (CR) stations in the coastal region of Bangladesh broadcasted 348 hours program for 3 days continuously from May 19 to May 21, 2016.

The community radio stations broadcasted and served on 24-hours basis to keep alert the community during and after Cyclone Roanu hit in the coastal belt of the country. These eight community radio stations situated in the coastal region played a big role in saving people’s lives and assets.

Following the cyclone warning signals the stations started broadcasting from 19 May afternoon and continued non-stop till midnight of 21st May. During the time they have broadcasted 348 hours, of those 187 hours are fully around the message and information on Cyclone Roanu, the disaster, it’s after-effects and what should be done for the community.

The CR stations continuously broadcasted the updates by increasing their previous airtime in line with the "Standing Orders on Disaster (SOD) of Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh".

The stations collected updated information from the [national] Meteorological Department, the disaster cells and local control room set up by the District and Upazila administrative authority. As there was no electricity in the area during the time, they were to depend fully on the generator and keep the broadcasting service uninterrupted.

The community radio stations maintained full-time liaison with the disaster monitoring cells at district and Upazila administration. They also kept contact and collected updated information from the Red Crescent volunteers and the scouts who were working hard with the disaster-prone community. Along with broadcasting messages and PSAs [public service announcements] received from the local government authority, they also broadcasted their own programs which they had learned and produced through training and their experiences from previous disasters.

With broadcasting of weather news bulletins every 10-15 minutes, they also broadcasted magazine program, drama, feature, interviews and talk shows of the responsible persons involved in disaster management in the area. As an offline support group, the members of the radio listeners clubs also took part in the process of fulfilling the objective of the station. They visited house-to-house the listeners and disseminated information on the latest situation of the cyclone, their contact points during an emergency, what types of services available for them during rescue or rehabilitation community. At the same time, they also supplied information to the radio stations and kept them updated about the community situation.  

The stations:

Eight radio stations are Community Radio Nalta 99.2 ( Kaligonj, Satkhira), Community Radio Sundarban 98.8 ((Koyra, Khulna), Community Lokobetar 99.2  (Barguna Sadar), Community Rural Radio Krishi Radio 98.8 (Amtoli, Barguna), Community Radio Naf 99.2 (Teknaf, Cox's Bazar), Community Radio Sagargiri 99.2 (Sitakunda, Chittagong), Community Radio Meghna 99.00  (Charfasion, Bhola) and Community  Radio Sagardwip 99.2 (Hatiya, Noakhali).

Broadcasting continued even at power failure/load shedding, by using alternative power supplies through generators. Since the stormy weather caused power disruption all over, community radio stations became the only source of information to the local people so that they could know all the details related to the cyclone and how to take precautionary measures to address their safety. This saved many lives and assets, and thus proved the essential role of community radio stations at a grassroots level in our coastal region, including: a total of 116 Community broadcasters (Female 37, Male 79) and volunteers and members from 175 listeners clubs worked throughout the whole service. The broadcasters continued broadcasting service on shifting basis.

It can be mentioned that Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) with support from Free Press Unlimited has supported the radio stations during the times of cyclone Mahasen and Komen and thus helped to save the lives and assets of millions of the coastal region. BNNRC kept constant coordination  with those stations and provided information and guidance in the whole process.

Bazlu_AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BR Chief Executive Officer |
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
[Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations]

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