After Cyclone Sidr in 2007, the small community of East Sujonkathi on the disaster prone coast of Bangladesh started to work immediately to develop a local disaster plan, including a community-based early warning system. Through a dedicated team of volunteers from the community including children, and CSOs such as Ms Shaila Shahid from the Gender and Water Alliance Programme Bangladesh (GWAPB) and the facilitation of Mr Zakir Hossain from Krisoker Sor, the community has also been disseminating disaster information about risks and disaster responses through folk culture, songs and the use of stories and traditional proverbs.
The engagement of youth and children at the local East Sujonkathi Govt. Primary School's Somaj' as volunteers has been key to all these efforts. The community has been experimenting as well with a combination of traditional housing methods and modern building techniques. At present, they are working creating a local inclusive platform for disaster risk reduction and formulating a set of local guidelines to oppose any local development initiative unless it fully complies with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). To do this, they are translating the SFDRR into the local dialect so the community can engage with it in their own terms.
Talking about his role as facilitator of the community’s efforts, Zakir says: “It is challenging to make sense of the chaos which often exists in conventional development discourses, but not impossible. You have to nurture the community’s emotional attachment to the activities necessary to build resilience. Only then, is it possible to explore and utilize the inner strength of the community to guide them towards the moments of happiness.”
Talking about his renewed commitment to continue with the work they are doing. Zakir told us that “The recognition increases our liabilities to save the Mother Earth to live longer in good health with all the wholeness, she is holding with great affection, love and Joy.”
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