The state of the planet’s water resources is recognized as one of the greatest global challenges faced by our rapidly transforming world. Hydrological services therefore sought to address the urgent need to improve forecasting, management and use of water supplies and to tackle the problem of too much, too little or too polluted water.
A pilot project was implemented in collaboration with University of Washington supported by USAIDDevelopment Innovation Venture (DIV) stage-1 grants in the area which piloted a mobile application ‘LiquidEarth’ to predict the flood inundation scenarios for the vulnerable communities. Following are some case studies collected from Kulkandi union Jamalpur after the unprecedented flood of 2017 in the Brahmaputra river basin of Bangladesh.
Case 1. The Fantastic Four
Among the 19 community volunteers trained under this project, there was a group of four from the ward number 7, 8 and 9 of Kulkandi union who played an incredible role in warning people in advance of the flood using the Liquid Earth App. There was a period during the flooding when the power supply was deliberately cut in order to avoid danger of electrification from uprooted electric poles. Unlike other volunteers, this group made a smart planning to continue to update people based on the Liquid Earth app during the power outrage. Two of them checked the forecast update once in a day and kept the phone switched off to save battery life while the other two used solar charger to charge their phones. Community people testified that these volunteers swam across the flood water to inform them when the flood water is going to recede which they said was a ‘Light of Hope’ for them!
Case 2. The Survivor
Amena Begum (60) – A survivor of the unprecedented flood of 2017 in Kulkandi
It is always difficult for women, children and elderlies or disables to evacuate once the flood has already arrived. Amena Begum recalls her accident in 2016 when she broke her arm while escaping flood water leading to months long unemployment. During 2017 flood, as the volunteers warned her about the flood in advance, she made her way to one of the schools used as flood shelter. She neither has the understanding nor has the access to smart phone but she appreciates the efforts of ‘telling the news of water’ in advance! Her story raise a point to ponder on how application like Liquid Earth can reach more efficiently to the vulnerable communities based on priorities.
Case 3: The Struggle for Existence Farida Parvin explained her struggle during the unprecedented flood of 2017. She said she has never seen such high flood in her entire life. She mentioned that 2016 was also an extreme flooding year but the difference made this year was the inundation forecast. As a cattle farmer she struggled last year to take her cattle to safer place which incurred loss to her business. But this year, the community volunteers informed her in advance and she moved the cattle and her belongings to the rooftop of a nearby primary school. She said, “Yes, we had to eat once in a day and lead a measurable life on the rooftop but I am still glad that cattle didn’t wash away. Because of the warnings, I was able to save my cattle worth of 1.5 lac Taka.
Flood early warnings cannot be effective unless they are received, understood and responded to by the end users. This project used mobile services (Voice Message Broadcasting) to improve the communication of flood warnings from national to community level in a fast and effective manner.