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Earthquake preparedness:  Alert today alive tomorrow

Published : Friday, 19 May, 2017 at 12:00 AM Count : 149
Satya Saha

Communication strategy and way of dissemination both are important drivers of making communication effective. Effective communication is necessary for awareness building. At the same time, it is essential for people's involvement in disaster risk reduction.  Without involving people from different strata of the society in disaster risk reduction, it is impractical to expect a resilient nation as well as keeping the required pace with the activities of achieving sustainable development goals.
This year Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) has given the clarion call to the policy through observing disaster management day with the compatible message as to "all time preparedness will ensure sustainable development ".
Communication strategy always carries a message for the targeted people which are to be disseminated from the origin to the target in an appropriate way. As we know that Bangladesh is a disaster prone country as well as capable of managing it especially disasters like cyclone, flood, flash flood etc. For this Bangladesh has become the model in the global arena.
It has become possible as those disasters can be predicted through early warning and Bangladesh is capable of ensuring the best use of that. Having these capacities is not enough to have an efficient disaster risk management as due to climate change the intensity and frequency of disaster is increasing in a high pace which becomes difficult to follow and that is why it is imperative to rejuvenate the disaster risk management of the country through strengthening the capacity of institution.
Off late earthquake is signalling our country to be the cause of mega disaster as vulnerability of our cities is very high when capacity is yet to be at a satisfactory level. Many causes are there behind these vulnerabilities.  These causes includes geographical location signals threat of earthquake, unplanned urbanization, non compliance of building code, lack of awareness absence of land use policy and concentration of the people for internal migration along with expansion of slums.
Apart from the above causes there are also many underlying factors which enhance the exposure of vulnerabilities of urban dwellers to earthquake. Regarding earthquake threat it is the first step to take right move of making people aware as yet there is hardly any scope of providing any early warning.
Preparedness by campaign is the first move to address earthquake. There is any technology yet to be found to get early warning regarding earthquake. Off late this disaster is posing threat to our country especially urban people. So making people aware about this is the first step as preparedness lessens the possible loss of life. Dissemination of information among the people through appropriate strategy is basic for building awareness. On the basis of targeted people, the communication strategy should be developed.
"Alert today alive tomorrow"-- pragmatism must be embedded into the mind of polity through appropriate communication strategy to be sure. So awareness stems from the process of dissemination of required message from senders to receivers.
We can call the 'Mina cartoon,' in our mind which is the example of an excellent and effective tool to bring the whole polity under the canopy of information regarding girl child education in Bangladesh. There is hardly any person either in urban area or in rural areas of Bangladesh who doesn't know this character. So making of Mina was an excellent strategy to disseminate information to the people.
Ministry of Disaster management and relief has been continuing this process of information dissemination. Huge numbers of leaflets has already been distributed to the ground level people to make them aware about earthquake. National workshops with Experts, NGOs, INGOs, Electronic and Print media, stakeholder ministries, civil society members and academia have been conducted under the auspices of MoDMR. Media gave appropriate focus on those workshops. Those steps are not enough to knock the doors of whole population we need to do more.
Against the above backdrop MoDMR conducted a campaign programme on earthquake awareness with the collaboration of UNDP with a view to develop an information product to reach different strata of the community.
Probably we will be in need of reshaping the product in accordance with the context of reality. This initiative taught us a lesson to understand the cultural context which knits the texture of the society.
Information sharing is a salient future of SFDRR (Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction), where access to information has been emphasized to ensure inclusiveness. "Leaving nobody behind" pragmatism will be ensconced deep into the society when relevant knowledge and facts will be of everybody's property.
However, to ensure this, it is imperative to identify the receiver of all strata of people and the product of information should be designed accordingly. Off late we have taken an initiative to disseminate early warning through community radio to the coastal people by using their respective local language so that the massage carries the clarity for people of the locality. This is an innovative idea to permit the massage through the relevant group of receiver. So the piece of information product should be designed on the basis of local context, cultural context, and level of understandings context.
Against the aforesaid backdrop, all concerned should prepare their thinking process regarding awareness building by taking the above reality into consideration because information and method of communication is vital for building awareness. Pragmatic means of communication and selecting appropriate method of establishing that will bring effective result.
Satya Saha is Additional Secretary of
The Ministry of Disaster Management
and Relief

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