Case study: Bangladesh response to floods 2007
A snapshot of a community-based organisation’s activities
To help address community vulnerability to floods in Kamargani Union of Gaibandha District Bangladesh, a group of 17 people (11 male and 6 female) came together voluntarily to form a Community-Based Organisation (CBO) to serve their community.
Members of “Ashar Alo Unnayan Sangstha” were trained in group management and other skills and encouraged to actively take the lead in several community activities, including a Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment, the creation of awareness in the community regarding disaster preparedness, the preparation of a community-based risk reduction plan and the solution of various social conflicts.
The CBO has since arranged vaccination campaigns for livestock, motivated the community to carry out work to improve their water and sanitation facilities, repair culverts, bridges and the embankment and assisted government service providers to organize meetings and training workshops in the community.
In the recent floods the CBO members performed several vital roles; monitoring the flood situation, raising community awareness, disseminating early warning messages using early warning equipment supplied by Practical Action and rescuing flood marooned families.
“Our CBO members rescued flood-stranded people, shifted 23 lots of housing materials damaged by river erosion and constructed temporary cattle shelters for 75 cattle. We installed 6 temporary sanitary latrines and 3 elevated tube wells for people marooned in the flood shelters, maintained 4 flood shelters, repaired 3 culverts and organized 2 vaccination camps for the cattle” said the Secretary of the CBO, Mohammad Sabu Mia. “This year’s flood gave us an opportunity to test our plan and what we had learned from our training. We know how to rescue people and to how to shift them to the shelter during flood. I think we have passed the test.”
The CBO members felt that by performing these activities in the community their social standing (dignity) had improved. They are now confident enough to communicate with external service providers for their needs. “The Upazila Executive Officer visited our community and observed our activities. He has assured us of his support for our further development”, said Md. Chan Mia. “We will soon be able to involve other agencies in development activities in our community,” said the Chairman of the CBO confidently.