Disasters Video story

Raising the flag ahead of disasters

Volunteers take the initiative to help their community learn and prepare for cyclones.

The town of Paikgacha is located in one of the most disaster-prone areas of Bangladesh. Set between two major waterways that wind through the country’s sprawling southern coastal region, Paikgacha is under frequent threat of cyclones and other extreme weather events. These deadly and destructive storms make life extremely difficult for the families who live in this shrimp farming community. The road to recovery often takes time, and even then, the threat of the next disaster always looms overhead.

A programme run by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) aims to help towns like Paikgacha not only survive each storm, but to make them far more resilient through sustained disaster preparedness activities and investment in sustainable livelihoods. In short, the Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction Programme trains community members in disaster preparedness, early warning systems, post-storm response so that people’s homes, families and livelihoods become less and less vulnerable to each successive storm.

Nurjahan Akter is a valuable member of this community. She is a Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) volunteer and a community organizer for this project. One of the activities she organizes is bringing several women together every month for courtyard sessions where they learn about disaster risk reduction and community-based health and first aid. “We discuss a different topic each month and arrange quizzes to keep the participants motivated,” she said. “We try to explain every topic in detail to keep them informed.”

Building start-ups for socioeconomic autonomy

In addition to strengthening the connections among community members, programme (also supported by the IFRC and the American Red Cross) also aims to reduce people’s socioeconomic vulnerabilities through cash-for-training activities. This is one of Nurjahan’s favourite activities. She helps women learn about homestead gardening, cattle and poultry rearing, and fish farming so they can start their own businesses. She also provides a close follow-up with each of the participants to ensure success and sustainability.

This activity is not just about giving women the opportunity to find new sources of income. It is also about empowerment. “Giving women financial assistance gave them the chance to be independent, just like the men in the community,” she explained. “Now, they are proficiently running and managing their own business ideas.” Nurjahan goes the extra mile to ensure that these women have proper business plans and structures in place to help them get their start-ups off the ground.

The challenges posed by the climate crisis on vulnerable communities are clear and are increasing. For people like Nurjahan, it is important to ensure that people and communities have the knowledge they need to establish a culture of preparedness and to strengthen their own community networks.


This story was produced and drafted by Mustakim Billah Muhit
– a talented, dynamic and creative storyteller from Bangladesh Red Crescent.


What happens when machines can decide who to kill?

It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.

‘Wildfire diaries’ and radical change in communications

In this episode, we talk with humanitarian communicator Kathy Mueller who produced our first magazine podcast series, The Wildfire Diaries, about massive wildfires in Northern Canada in 2017. We talk about that series, her many international missions, and the big changes in humanitarian communications since she began with the Canadian Red Cross almost 20 years ago.

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

Discover more stories

Get stories worth sharing delivered to your inbox

Want to stay up to date?

This might interest you...

A father and son roadtrip

Juan used to work so much that he would hardly see his son Santiago. Now they are on a journey of a lifetime.

Check it out