Muhammad Abdur Rahaman,Zereen Saba.
“Flood marker is an innovation in Flood Early Warning System (FWES) which has largely contributed to flood management and reducing loss and damage induced by floods in the last two floods (2019 and 2020). This innovation should be replicated in other places which are flood-vulnerable then flood preparedness would be smoother and more beneficial for the community people and GoB”-the DRRO of Lalmonirhat District.
Monsoon flooding is a common climate-induced disaster in Lalmonorhat and Nilphamari districts. These districts are susceptible to floods, sometimes severe floods occur in these districts during the southwest monsoon season. In some years, these districts are affected by recurring floods in the same year. According to Reliefweb, Bangladesh suffered total economic losses due to different hazards of 285,400 million US$ in the last 10 years, where average annual losses by the flood are more than 64%. Almost all sectors of the country, i.e. agriculture, shelter, transport, land, education, forests, industries, and other livelihoods of people, have been affected by the flood. In 2020, due to the flood 102 upazila and 654 unions of Bangladesh have been inundated, affecting 3.3 million people and leaving 7, 31,958 people in water logging. 93 people have lost their lives and 41 children died due to drowning (Releifweb, 2020). In 2019, Bangladesh’s National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC) measures that over 70 people died and 5 million have been affected by the monsoon floods. NDRCC also estimates that 5,302,698 people were directly affected by the 2019 flooding where 27,170 houses have been destroyed and 419,336 were damaged and 287,513 people were displaced (Floodlist.com, 2019). As flood preparedness activity, some organizations are working to disseminate flood early warning including FFWC. According to the Executive Engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board, FFWC measures danger levels and provides information through the national information dissemination system. At the community level, Union Parishad is mainly responsible for disseminating flood-early warning information to vulnerable communities. Md. Moynul Haq, Chairman, 9 No. Tepakhoribari Union, Dimla of Nilphamari district said that sometimes they cannot reach the remote communities before the flood to disseminate early warning because of fragile mobile network connectivity. He also mentioned that community-based flood early warning is effective in that case. Under the “Integrated Flood Resilience Programme through Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR)” project, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) has introduced flood markers as community-based flood early warning system in Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts since 2018. Mr. Biplob Kanti Mondal, Manager, Resilient WASH, IFRC said that though Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) provides flood early warning but hard to reach the community people don’t have access to this information because of mobile network. Using the red, yellow, and green marks of the flood marker, community people can take self-defense against flood. Mr. Md. Matlabur Rahaman who was the Assistant Program Officer in this project currently serving a similar project in Tangail as Program Officer added that especially people in remote char areas and islands don’t get an early warning before the flood. In that case, flood marker (community-based) plays a vital role to get flood forecasting and early warning. Mr. Matlub also said after the installation of flood markers in remote areas, flood-induced loss and damage were reduced drastically. Based on the lessons from this project, we have established such a flood marker mechanism in Tangail. Mr. Matub also said that
“The flood almost occurs every year and there are some places where usually water overflows. In 2019 and 2020 the flood scenario was different. Both years’ floods occurred in many areas where floods never occurred before but due to flood early warning as well as food marker, in those floods, flood-induced loss and damage were low compared to previous floods.”
Md. Rezaul, the inhabitant of the Shibber Kuti community. Shibderkuti community is surrounded by the Teesta River and almost every year, the community is flooded by the Teesta flood. According to Mr. Rabiul, “Sometimes flood happens very fast and sometimes it uplifts very slowly. But we don’t get information properly and so why preparation to evacuate to a safe shelter is tough for us. During the flood of 2017, we did not get time to prepare ourselves as the water comes so quickly into the river”. He also added that in the flood of 2019 and 2020, we had had enough time to take preparation because of the flood marker. In this regard, the question “Do you have any idea about flood markers?” He respond positively and said yes I know about it, if there is a red mark then it means there is a dangerous situation, the yellow mark indicates that we should prepare ourselves to leave for a safe place and the green mark represent normal condition. Mr. Rabiul also added that in 2019 the flood marker was installed here which made the community flood resilient. He also expressed that it is very helpful for us because we live adjacent to the river so every year flood is a common scenario in our community we follow it and get time to take preparation, evacuate livestock, poultry, and also children and old people. Mr. Rabiul also prove examples from the previous two floods (2019 & 2020) and said that due to this flood marker, nothing of us was damaged during the flood because following the marker level, we have taken preparation and also took shelter in safe places. Mr. Rabiul also said that the community people don’t understand the triggering level of the flood marker but Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC) and Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT) translate the language of the flood marker and informed community people by yard meeting and also miking to the community people of long distance which is most effective for flood preparedness. He also expressed that the green mark is the triggering level of the flood as well as if the river water exceeds the green mark and touches the yellow mark then they start to preparation on taking flood management initiate and when the flood level exceeds the yellow mark then they evacuate themselves to the safe shelter.
DRRO of Lalmonirhat district said the Flood marker is an innovation in Flood Early Warning System (FWES) which has largely contributed to flood management and reducing loss and damage induced by floods in the last two floods (2019 and 2020). This innovation should be replicated in other places which are flood-vulnerable then flood preparedness would be smoother and more beneficial for the community people and GoB.
Floodlist (2020), Bangladesh – Tens of Thousands Hit by Floods in North, Floodlist.com, 2020
Releifweb (2020) Bangladesh: Monsoon Floods 2020 Coordinated Preliminary Impact and Needs Assessment – Needs Assessment Working Group (NAWG) – 25 July 2020, Releifweb, 2020