Community radio: Helping save lives during Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh
The radio may be largely diminished as a medium for conveying information in modern urban life, but community radios in rural areas of Bangladesh are actually helping save lives during natural disasters. Throughout the course of the recent Cyclone Mora, community radio stations were sometimes the only link to the outside world when the storm confined families indoors.
Since May 29 (the day before the cyclone), seven community radio stations in coastal regions of Bangladesh continuously broadcast programmes focused on cyclone preparedness. These included weather bulletin updates every 15 minutes, public service announcements, and interviews of disaster response authorities to help communities prepare for Cyclone Mora.
Community radio stations, active in this regard since 2011, have been operational through Cyclones Mahasen (2013), Roanu (2016) and Mora (2017). Before, during, and after a cyclone makes landfall, community radio stations forego regular programming to run almost continuous programmes on cyclone preparedness.
A report by BBC Media Action titled Climate Asia which studied people’s everyday experience of climate change in the region in 2012 revealed that 49 percent of the 3,578 households surveyed in Bangladesh felt informed about how to respond to climate change. It found that information helped people to respond – 67 percent of those informed then felt prepared to face extreme weather events. These people would subsequently take action such as making home adjustments and setting up early warning alerts. Though radio figured below television and mobile phones in terms of media used most frequently, 21 percent of people who used their phones also listened to the radio on it.