The Philippines and Bangladesh are two countries where emergency preparedness and the saving of lives are a priority. The Philippines is on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, with active volcanoes, a history of earthquakes and at least twenty typhoons a year which are happening with increasing severity. Much of Bangladesh is low lying and suffers regular flooding and cyclones. Here too there is a risk of a severe earthquake, the consequences of which in such a densely populated country, could be terrible.
Being able to warn people at risk, do it in the right way so they take action to make themselves safe, restoring connectivity and then hearing from affected people about what they need and where help is needed saves lives. Using the many channels, exploiting new technology while recognising that infrastructure may have been destroyed and planning a communication strategy in depth is essential. In Bangladesh, as part of the UK funded Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Programme, the CDAC Network has helped form what is known as a multi stakeholder platform called Shongjog, which means Linkage, to improve and develop communication with affected people.
In the Philippines , after a typhoon in 2012, the CDAC Network was instrumental in forming what is now a Community of Practise on Community Engagement, which has more than fifty members. It includes a some highly innovative start-ups from the private sector, faith based groups as well as UN agencies and humanitarian agencies. There is no doubt that the Filipino COP on Community Engagement is one of the most advanced in any at risk country, and has secured a recognised role within the humanitarian architecture for preparedness and response.
Along with some thirty humanitarian organisations in Bangladesh the Shongjog platform includes a representative from the government’s Department of Disaster Management, who is the current chair. Rahima Akter, the Department’s Deputy Director, along with four other members, had a three day learning exchange in Manila during which they heard from members of the COP and private sector companies organisations involved with it. The first day was concerned with how the COP works. Its relationship with the government, the use of open source tools for mapping and mobile data collection as well as highly active presentations on the use of drones, ‘radio in a suitcase’ from First Response Radio and how ham radio can play a vital role when other communication systems are down.
You can hear about Day One of this learning exchange in a podcast here
The Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme works to develop effective response where it is needed most, and aims at a major improvement in the way countries cope with populations caught up in a disaster or conflict. This ground breaking programme, one of the largest investments of its kind, is managed collaboratively by the CDAC and Start Networks. Between them they leverage the expertise of more than 50 member organisations.