Mobile Services for Flood Early Warning in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is an extremely flood prone country and an effective flood warning system is essential for preparedness.  Although Bangladesh has an extensive flood forecasting system in place there are still challenges to effectively communicate this output at the local level. This project exploited this opportunity to close the information gap by utilising mobile services and explored possible ways to keep such a system financially sustainable. The project was led by Deltares in partnership with Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), Cordaid, HKV Consultants, Concern Universal Bangladesh, Practical Action Bangladesh (PA) and Manab Mukti Sangstha (MMS).

Floodrisk Bangladesh

The two methods chosen were Voice Message Broadcast (VMB) for top down warning dissemination from national to district and local levels simultaneously and Short Message System (SMS) for bottom up water level data collection from the local to national level. The available 5-day forecast warning message content was made more localised (union level). Furthermore, 40 volunteers were trained along with project staff and government officials, building their capacity to understand and react effectively to the warnings. These innovations were tested 2014 flood season by disseminating 300 VMB warnings daily with full governmental support from the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) and the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). The evaluation after the 2014 floods showed the successful impact of the project. Community people received, understood and trusted the information from the VMB, utilising it take actions to protect their lives and livelihoods.

The project is now being continued in 2015 with the support of Cordaid and partners Deltares, RIMES, Concern Universal and MMS