Author: AHM Bazlur Rahman, November 11 21023 As part of addressing the risk of Cyclone Mahasen, six community radio (CR) stations in the coastal region of Bangladesh broadcast 514 program hours for 5 days continuously from May 11 to May 16, 2013.
To give statistics on the community staffing for this disaster risk management, a total of 391 staff and volunteers and more than 20,000 listeners’ club members were involved in disseminating disaster preparedness messages and information to the local community. They updated and informed listeners about the cyclone situation at a regular frequency. They provided information on cyclone shelter to the community according to the disaster situation continuously updated by the meteorological department and other government agencies. The CR stations continuously broadcast the updates by increasing their previous air-time in line with the "Standing Orders on Disaster of Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh".
The stations, members of Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), included: Community Radio Nalta 99.2 (Satkhira), Community Radio Sundarban 99.2 (Koyra, Khulna), Community Radio Lokobetar 99.2 (Barguna Sadar), Community Rural Radio Krishi Radio 98.8 (Amtali, Barguna), Community Radio Naf 99.2 (Cox’s bazar, Tekhnaf) and Radio Sagargiri 99.2 (Sitakunda, Chittagong).
Broadcasting continued even at power failure/load shedding, by using alternative power supplies through generators. Since the stormy weather caused power disruption all over, CR 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 CR at a grassroots level in our coastal region.
The important/significant activities done by the Community Radio:
1. The CR stations broadcast latest weather bulletins and other govt. directives every 15-30 minutes. The radio staff and volunteers produced and broadcast different types of programs in different formats (like news, magazine, talkshow, discussion, etc.) regarding pre-, during-, and post-disaster measures.
2. The directives from the deputy commissioner (DC) and Upa Zila Nirbahi officer (UNO), as well as interviews of experienced Red Cross officials, were broadcast.
3. Interviews and directives regarding early preparedness measures, including utilization of cyclone shelters and crop harvesting and preservation, were broadcast by local, elected representatives.
4. Interviews on disaster preparedness by local journalists and trained and experienced development activists were broadcast. People who took shelter also talked on community radio so that the others might feel inspired to come to the shelter.
5. A public service announcement (PSA) was broadcast, quoting a bulletin of the National Broadcasting Authority. Analysis and views were broadcast based on the news published on national and international mass media. Members of listeners clubs sent early warnings by mobile messages for non-covered radio regions.
AHM Bazlur Rahman-S21BR
Chief Executive Officer
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC),