Success Story of Khotar Char Disaster Management Committee
The village of Khotar Char is situated in a remote southern part of Bangladesh attached to the estuary of a big river and a coastal belt. It is highly prone to cyclones and has often experienced massive loss of lives and assets. 104 families (416 people) live in this village. Most of them depend on fishing; a few are farmers and small traders. They were so poor and helpless, due to illiteracy, superstition and moneylender exploitation, that why they were restricted to living in unsafe places outside the flood embankment. In 2007 the village was affected by a category 4 cyclone named SIDR that killed 30 people and seriously damaged their assets, both livelihoods and houses.
FH organized a relief and rehabilitation program in that village. In the subsequent transition to the development phase, 126 women representatives of those families were organized into 7 learning and saving groups for their development. Along with child education, adult literacy and leadership training programs, FH helped to organize a 9-member Disaster Preparedness Committee for the village. Then committee leaders and FH staff jointly facilitated 3 days’ training using Participatory Risk Assessment tools and a workshop with villagers to develop three “Participatory Disaster Preparedness Plans” for each community. They organized 3 groups of volunteers with responsibility for providing emergency warnin
g, security and search/rescue services.
Under the preparedness plan, they helped 41 children and 9 adults to learn how to swim, conducted 3
4 sessions on disaster risk awareness in group meetings, repaired and strengthened 25 houses, raised the plinth levels of 35 houses and planted 304 trees. Through the campaign for orientation, planning process and follow-up meetings to implement their plan, not only leaders and volunteers but all villagers became aware of their roles at different warning stages, in the actual disaster and afterwards.In the recent cyclone AILA, people went to shelter promptly
in response to warning announcements and their houses were kept secure by the volunteers. They had kept dry foods and water in plastic pots under the ground to preserve them for future need. This preparedness saved people’s lives and assets.
The secretary of the Disaster Preparedness Committee stated, “They have now learned how to face cyclones and God keeps them well prepared. We shall continue our development pace by making people aware and ready for any disaster.”