Generating and disseminating flood early warnings to communities, makes people in the hard –to-reach areas aware of the anticipated floods in their vicinity- it is important as it allows them enough time to take precautions to protect their livelihoods and save lives.

CARE’s experience has shown that for climate resilience, people of all genders need to increase their assets and build their capacities to anticipate risks, absorb shocks and stresses, adapt to evolving conditions and transform systems and structures. Therefore, combined knowledge on climate change and access to regular updated climate information (for both short term weather forecasts and long-term climate trends) is key to inform adaptation strategies, leading to increased climate resilience.

With technical support from The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) and funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the CARE led SUFAL consortium project in Bangladesh ensured early flood warning messages are disseminated in real-time to multiple stakeholders, starting from the district administration through to the households living in the hard-to-reach, riverine char* areas.

The project-initiated loudspeaker announcements from boats, especially for char areas, as people living away from the mainland have no access to other forms of mass communication. SUFAL also generated early warning voice messages which are sent to enlisted recipients from the community through mobile phones.

Parveen Akhter (21) is one of the recipients of the SUFAL voice messages in Bharatkhali union of Saghata, Gaibandha.She lives with six family members and her father is a farmer.

“Since 2019, I have been receiving flood voice calls from the SUFAL project and sharing the messages with my family, friends, and neighbors. This has helped us to be aware of any upcoming floods, when they will come and for how long. We get warning  calls or messages seven days before the floods come and also get advice on how to prepare ourselves”, she said.

Before the introduction of the early warning system, Parveen and her family incurred huge losses when their crops were destroyed by the floods, because of the warning system they now harvest the mature crops before the floods come.

“My family and neighbors had Jute (plant fiber) on their fields; after sharing warning messages with them, they decided to harvest the mature crops before the floods and in doing so they did not incur a total loss”, said Parveen.

Parveen, other voice message recipients, including local government administration, felt satisfied with SUFAL’s approach to disseminate timely flood early warning to the last mile. They want to continue receiving such messages for future disasters. In addition to receiving voice calls, communities and local governments have suggested providing written messages in Bangla and an easy option to listen to the message on request. Recorded messages can also be shared to recipients so that they can listen to it at a time convenient to them.

* Riverine sand and silt landmasses are known as char in Bengali. Bangladesh consists mainly of riverine and deltaic deposits of three large and extremely dynamic rivers entering the country: the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna rivers.