Eight community radio (CR) stations in the coastal region of Bangladesh broadcast a combined total of 348 hours of programs for 3 continuous days from May 19 to May 21, 2016 as they addressed Cyclone Roanu in the region.
The community radio stations broadcast on a 24-hours basis in order to keep communities alert during and after Cyclone Ronau hit the coastal belt of the country. In order to broadcast around the clock, their previous air-time was increased in line with the “Standing Orders on Disaster (SOD) of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.” These eight community radio stations, all of which are situated in the coastal region, played a big role in saving people’s lives and assets.
Following the cyclone warning signals the stations started broadcasting from 19 May afternoon and continued non-stop till midnight of 21 May. Out of the total 348 hours, 187 hours were information specific to the cyclone itself, the disaster unfolding, the after-effects of the cyclone and what should be done for the community.
The stations collected updated information from the Meteorological Department, the disaster cells and local control room set up by the District and Upazila administrative authority and maintaining full-time liaison with theses groups. As there was no electricity in the area, due to power failure/load shedding, the stations, which were the only source of information, depended fully on the generators and kept the broadcasting services uninterrupted. In addition, the community radio stations also kept contact and collected updated information from the Red Cresent volunteers and the scouts who were working hard with the disaster-prone communities.
Along with broadcasting messages and PSAs received from the local government authority, they also broadcast their own programs which they have learned and produced through training and their experiences from previous disasters. With broadcasting of weather news bulletin after every 10-15 minutes, they also broadcast magazine programs, dramas, features, interviews and talk shows of the responsible persons involved in disaster management in the area. As an offline support group, the members of the radio listeners clubs also took part in the process of fulfilling the objective of the station. They conducted house-to-house visits of the listeners and disseminated information about the latest situation of the cyclone, their contact points during an emergency and what types of services were available for them during rescue or rehabilitation of the communities. At the same time, they also supplied information to the radio stations and kept them updated about the community situation.
The eight radio stations are Community Radio Nalta 99.2 ( Kaligonj, Satkhira), Community Radio Sundarban 98.8 ((Koyra, Khulna), Community Lokobetar 99.2 (Barguna Sadar), Community Rural Radio Krishi Radio 98.8 (Amtoli, Barguna), Community Radio Naf 99.2 (Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar), Community Radio Sagargiri 99.2 (Sitakunda, Chittagong), Community Radio Meghna 99.00 (Charfasion, Bhola) and Community Radio Sagardwip 99.2 (Hatiya, Noakhali).
A total of 116 community broadcasters (37 females and 79 males), volunteers and members from 175 listeners clubs worked throughout the whole period by operating on a shifting basis in order to continue broadcaasting.
It can be mentioned that Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), with support from Free Press Unlimited, supported the radio stations during the times of Cyclones Mahasen and Komen and, thus, also kept constant contact and assisted in coordination with these stations and provided information and guidance throughout the entire process in relation to Cyclone Roanu.