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Some remote coastal villages, in southern Bangladesh, are not yet reached by the country’s elaborate national disaster management system. So ACF implemented a DRR pilot project in 10 villages, establishing in each a Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC) and a Women’s Committee (WC). The project targeted over 4,000 households, mostly female-headed households or poor women’s households highly exposed to disaster risk. When a cyclone struck shortly after the end of the project, the women used the disaster preparedness measures explained to them. They protected lives and livelihoods… on their own initiative… without the national disaster management system.
The initiative is a Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) pilot project implemented by ACF in southern Bangladesh from November 2011 to May 2013. The project was a community-led initiative that looked into bringing social cohesion, community inclusiveness to reduce disaster risk for vulnerable population, especially poor, landless individuals and women, girls and children.
One of its key objectives was to empower local communities through: (1) introducing sustainable community risk management system; (2) DRR skill building; and (3) creating linkages of local community with the local government authorities such as the Union Parishad (Council).
CMDRR is “a process of bringing people together within the same community to enable them to collectively address a common disaster risk and to collectively pursue common disaster risk reduction measures.” –
The pilot project was implemented in 10 villages in three unions/wards named Borobogi, Nisanbaria and Sonakata in Amtali Upazilla (Sub-District), Barguna District. The villages are in the coastal belt of the Bay of Bengal, which makes the residents vulnerable to cyclones, tropical storms and floods. Even though the Government of Bangladesh has an elaborate disaster management system, it is yet to
reach communities living in the farthest corners of coastal areas. As a result, communities at high risk remain vulnerable to cyclones and tropical storms every year. Also, from experience, ACF had learnt that communities were always the first to respond to disasters and were best positioned to derive solutions to their problems. Therefore, it was crucial that the targeted communities were empowered with DRR skills and with linkages to turn their vulnerability into resilience.
The project targeted 4,613 households. A large percentage of the households were either femaleheaded households or households of extremely poor women highly exposed not only to high magnitude cyclones but also to low-intensity hazards such as high tide, salinity and winds. The pilot project was co-financed by ACF International and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID in Spanish).
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