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.