5 June is World Environment Day and your action is needed. The illegal trade in wildlife is pushing many species of animals and plants toward local or global extinction, robbing us of our natural heritage. The killing and smuggling of these species is also undermining economies, fuelling organised crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe.
You can play a big part to stop this. Do any of the suggested activities below and then register on WED website to join the global chorus to fight wildlife crime.
Find out what else is happening for WED at the international, national, regional and local levels from WED website.
Becoming climate-smart is about identifying BRAC programmes which will proactively address the vulnerability and become resilient to the adverse effects of climate change. The identified programmes anticipate the restructuring that will be needed to reduce that vulnerability and any negative consequences that may affect people as well as BRAC’s programme participants. DMCC is coordinating research to model the effects of climate change on programmes and develop an action plan accordingly to tackle these future challenges.
Against man-made disasters
Tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Garments fire shocked the world, proving how gravely human-inflicted disasters can affect individuals. Besides addressing natural hazards, DMCC also works to support people affected by such accidents.
The programme focuses on mental and physical rehabilitation, regaining social mobility through skills development and achieving self-employment through holistic arrangement.
Nurturing community capacity
BRAC’s staff members are trained on the standard operating procedures (SOP). Health workers and volunteers are provided with first aid and disaster management training. This is done in order to enhance communities’ emergency efforts during and after a crisis. DMCC also trains BRAC’s school teachers, health volunteers, village organisation leaders and community leaders - all of whom are recognised as first responders during a natural disaster.
BRAC conducts simulation exercises, recreating disaster scenarios with audio-visual effects where participants from communities endorse disaster protocols. In addition, professional level courses are given to BRAC staff and government officials at BRAC University to develop expertise on disaster management. DMCC has also provided psychosocial training to 764 women in disaster-prone areas.
DMCC has constructed 43 disaster-resilient houses and one disaster-resilient school in collaboration with BRAC University, using local materials and indigenous knowledge. All of these buildings serve as individual cyclone shelters during emergencies, protecting people’s lives and assets. Situated in one of the most disaster-prone areas in the southern part of Bangladesh, these structures have enabled a village of Satkhira to lead a more secure and resilient life.
Women are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to a combination of factors, including a lack of social mobility, financial security and education. Targeting the areas prone to cyclones, floods and drought, DMCC has formed 764 women's groups with a total of 19,100 members. These members identify 3,820 of the most vulnerable members and recommend them for livelihood support grants and training. The alternative livelihood options offered to them include tailoring, rice processing, crab fattening, fishing net making, and livestock rearing.
Surpassing physical and material needs
In favour of prioritising their immediate physical and material needs, traditional approaches to disaster management have often overlooked the psychosocial needs of the survivors. DMCC is working to extend its support by integrating psychosocial training to those living in disaster-prone communities. These trainings are designed to improve coping abilities to stress, discrimination and exploitation. Until now, DMCC coordinated and conducted psychosocial TOTs to 764 women, who in turn passed on their knowledge to 19,100 women in their communities, and will continue to reach more under this venture.
In preparation for flooding, DMCC has coordinated the construction of 300 elevated latrines in the vulnerable areas of Khulna and Satkhira. These latrines will help to reduce contamination after a flood and provide sanitation to communities which are commonly affected.
Publications for disaster risk reduction
Children’s books portraying disaster risk reduction measures with illustrations are designed and distributed at BRAC schools. The books aim to create awareness on disaster preparedness among the young population, who in turn, can pass it on to their parents and other members of their communities.
Using a mobile and web application-based system called Integrated Collaboration and Rapid Emergency Support Services (iCRESS), DMCC is able to collect and disseminate real-time data for the populations at risk. By communicating with the district BRAC representatives, warnings of severe weather patterns can be given to staff in advance, enabling communities to take appropriate precautions.
BRAC started its journey through relief work among disaster-affected, rural poor. Continuing that legacy, the programme implements relief distribution during emergencies based on needs assessment. The programme prioritises on long-term, sustainable solutions that allow affected communities to be self-sufficient in managing hazards. In four districts (Gaibandha, Sirajgongj, Lalmonirhat and Kurigram), DMCC is using the platforms of polli shomaj, BRAC’s own village institutions led by women, to help set up disaster risk reduction funds with full autonomy so that communities can use it for disaster risk reduction activities.
Bangladesh is widely recognised as a country that is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its geographical position and low-lying flat topography. Within the past 15 years, the country has experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. A lack of awareness and coordination among the general people about disaster preparedness, climate change and its impact makes the Bangladeshi population even more susceptible to the effects of natural disasters.
Providing relief to disaster-affected populations was one of the very first missions BRAC began its journey with. Emerging from the need to address disaster management more effectively, the disaster management and climate change (DMCC) programme was initiated in 2008. Since then, it has been working to minimise the effects of climate change and reduce the vulnerability of exposed populations, helping Bangladesh become a disaster-resilient country. With the aim to improve the country’s coping abilities to natural disasters, DMCC is working to build capacity and competence, both at the institutional and community levels.
BRAC’s disaster management and climate change programme (DMCC) began with the following objectives:
• To enhance BRAC’s institutional capacity to respond to natural disasters
• Build capacity at the community level on disaster risk reduction
• Increase adaptability and coping ability in natural disasters by conducting predictive research, information transfer and education in relation to climate change and natural disasters
In order to enhance BRAC’s institutional capacity, the most significant initiative taken by DMCC has been the compilation of the standard operation procedures, or SOP. It holds a set of disaster management protocols during an emergency in order to ensure quick response and effectiveness. DMCC has also conducted trainings for BRAC staff from all levels to streamline and professionalise disaster management.
The programme has also taken many initiatives to build community capacity. Trainings have been conducted at the grassroots level and community outreach efforts to spread awareness have also been implemented. Disaster-resilient structures in the southernmost regions of the country have been built, further equipping communities to tackle disaster impacts.
Increasing adaptability and coping ability is also an important measure that is being addressed in various ways. Relief assistance is highly prioritised for disaster-affected areas after the emergency. Alternative livelihood options are given to vulnerable households to ensure sustainable living. Additionally, access to safe water and sanitation support is another important activity. DMCC is also focused on provision of psychosocial counselling and training to help communities cope with stress in the aftermath of disasters.
Supporting Rana Plaza survivors
DMCC is working with partners to support the survivors of Rana Plaza in regaining control over their lives. BRAC is providing them with access to health protection schemes, psychosocial counselling and prosthetic limbs. Clients are also equipped with livelihood support through seed capital funding,and skills development training. These initiatives assist them to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and become self-resilient.
Mobile money for disaster response
DMCC designed innovative interventions to improve post-disaster response and humanitarian relief activities through technology.
Through the intervention of mobile money, a digital voucher system was developed to provide relief items and medical support to affected individuals quickly following a disaster. Monthly interests earned from fixed deposits that the Rana Plaza survivors are eligible for can also be transferred through mobile money. Crowd funding is another new intervention using the platform of mobile money. It is a transparent mechanism for the public to easily and directly donate towards relief activities and monitor its utility.