Bangladesh, June, 13th, 2017 (BNNRC). 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.
Siddiqur Hossain, station manager of Community Radio Naf, gathered representatives of the 29 listener clubs in Teknaf the day before the cyclone hit to raise awareness about cyclone preparedness. These members in turn went back to their communities to urge members of their listener clubs and locals to stay tuned to Radio Naf for crucial updates on the cyclone. “It was all hands on deck,” says Hossain. Four young broadcasters (two boys and two girls) and several other staff and volunteers shared the duties of broadcasting for 24 hours straight. A large segment of listeners of Radio Naf are fishermen around Teknaf who depend on this vital service for important information related to their livelihoods—timely weather forecasts and market prices—but especially so when natural disasters strike.