Author: BBC Media Action's Mahbubul Hasan Manik, July 7 2016 - "This event helped me learn these techniques by heart" one man told me after he finished watching a demonstration of how to build a simple water filter. This knowledge will help him remove iron from his water, which can lead to serious health complications if consumed in excess. He’d just spent his Friday afternoon at a special Amrai Pari mini-festival held in Rangpur in the north of Bangladesh.

Amrai Pari (Together we can do it) began life as a television programme. It featured communities adopting low cost, replicable solutions to everyday problems caused by extreme weather and changing weather patterns.

Now the season has ended, I’m part of a team staging a series of community events to encourage people across Bangladesh to discuss these solutions. We’re targeting people in rural communities who might not have access to TV. Ahead of our festival in Rangpur, volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society used [a] battery-powered rickshaw to visit remote parts in the region to make sure as many people as possible knew about the event.

The mini-festival attracted a crowd of over 2,000 people who came to watch screenings of the TV show, folk singers, puppet shows and live demonstrations of simple techniques like the iron [water] filter.

Drip irrigation

Here [see image above], volunteers are teaching a group of farmers and their children about "bottle drip irrigation", a water saving technique.

The events took place in the day so women felt safer travelling to the event and could bring their children – and as you can see, they turned out in force.

Cooking after flood

Attendees were given stickers and fans featuring “how to” diagrams to help people remember the techniques first demonstrated in the TV programme.

One diagram showed the audience how to build a tin stove. Many households in rural Bangladesh use heavy clay stoves. Stoves made out of recycled tin are much more portable, making it possible to cook food after a flood if people have had to leave their homes.

Huge crowds

Music and drama was a big part of event. To stress the importance of taking measures to cope with floods and other disasters, puppeteers worked with local children and local folk singers drew huge crowds. Here’s a snippet from one of the performers, Bishwanath Mohanta, warning of the dangers of iron in water after heavy rains:

“Listen my countrymen, people from the villages and the cities faraway, iron water will cause you harm, and you can’t get away!”

We hope to organise many more events like this. In just one day, Amrai Pari the TV show became Amrai Pari the festival, a place where people could gain practical, potentially life-saving skills while enjoying themselves at the same time.

Click here to access this BBC Media Action blog and related links on their work in Bangladesh.
Image credit: BBC Media Action

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