30 September 2023
Pre-Crisis Assessment Of Monsoon Flooding In Bangladesh: Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT)
This Pre-Crises Assessment of Monsoon Flooding in Bangladesh presents the collective ac-countability to the affected population in Bangladesh of the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) members to improve their coordinated action in anticipatory action and response based on the people's preferences and choices. CONSULTING PEOPLE AT RISK BEFORE THE CRISIS The pre-crisis assessment highlights the importance of a comprehensive approach to flood resilience in Bangladesh. Strengthening early warning systems, enhancing com-munity engagement, and investing in sustainable infrastructure and livelihood diversi-fication will empower at-risk peoples to withstand and recover from monsoon floods more effectively. By implementing the survey's recommendations, anticipatory action and response efforts can be more targeted, responsive, and inclusive, leading to im-proved outcomes for vulnerable communities and their well-being during flood events. This has provided valuable insights into the risk perception, preparedness, and coping capacity of at-risk households. The findings underscore the resilience of communities in flood-prone areas and highlight the importance of early warning systems, community engagement, and strategic interventions to enhance flood management and resilience. STRUCTURE OF THE FINDINGS The report findings are grouped into four categories organised in the same sequences as a flood timeline. The aim of this approach is to identify how people’s perceptions of risks and access to early warning information influence what they do before the flood, how these prepa-rations reduce the impact of the flood and their subsequent needs, and what the information needs of people at all stages of this continuum. Introduction: The monsoon season in Bangladesh, lasting from June to Sep-tember, is essential for the country's agriculture and economy due to heavy ra-infall and water replenishment. However, it also brings challenges, impacting livelihoods, crops, and livestock. Excessive rainfall and flooding damage crops, while floodwaters pose a threat to livestock and animal shelters. Some choo-se temporary relocation, while others stay behind to protect animals during the floods. The approach of disaster risk management in Bangladesh includes preparedness, anticipatory action, response, and recovery. It is a collaborative effort involving government agencies, National and Local Agencies (L/NAs), in-ternational non-government organisations, and UN Agencies through HCTT and national cluster efforts. The HCTT Nexus Strategy 2021-25 for climate-related disasters aligns with the National Plan for Disaster Management (NPDM) and focuses on transformative changes, including early warning systems, anticipa-tory action, durable solutions for displaced populations, and nature-based solu-tions in response and risk reduction. Preparedness and anticipatory action are seen as interconnected approaches promoting collaboration with humanitarian and development actors. Pre-Crises Survey Approach: The pre-crisis survey approach aims to improve system-wide coherence in support of coordinated efforts for saving vulnerable populations during monsoon floods in Bangladesh. The survey's objectives in-clude understanding community perceptions, needs, and coping capacities, and providing recommendations for a unified inter-sectoral Cash+ approach for anti-cipatory actions and post-flood response interventions. The analysis combines quantitative data with qualitative insights from focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The report acknowledges limitations in geographical cove-rage, sample representativeness, potential response biases, and limited qualita-tive data sources. Nonetheless, the collaborative and people-centred approach ensures credibility and robustness in the study's outcomes, facilitating an inte-grated approach to disaster preparedness, anticipation, and response for at-risk communities. Risk Perception and Early Warning: Bangladesh's susceptibility to monsoon floods is intensified by its geographical placement, and this study sought to del-ve into communities' perceptions of this recurrent threat, focusing on the vulnerability. The survey revealed that the implications of monsoon floods spanned three dimensions: damage to property and infrastructure, disruption of life and livelihoods, and distress to the people. Despite over half of the population ex-pressing their vulnerability, there's an evident resilience borne from familiarity with monsoon floods. However, this same familiarity can often blur the lines, making negative coping mechanisms seem 'normal'. The early warning system, albeit existent, isn't sufficiently timely or comprehensive, leading to limited pre-paration time. Finally, the trust factor determines how these warnings are mana-ed. The community's indigenous knowledge sometimes complements, and at times supersedes, official early warnings. This indicates an avenue to intertwine local wisdom with modern forecasting, culminating in a more robust, trusted early warning system. The overarching takeaway is the urgent need for a cohesive, multi-faceted, and community-inclusive approach to anticipate and combat the re of monsoon floods in Bangladesh. Households’ Preparation for Monsoon Floods: Monsoon floods regularly affect Bangladesh, necessitating households to be resilient and prepared. Approxima-tely 75% of households have adopted flood mitigation measures, such as raising home bases, stockpiling dry foods, and constructing banana rafts. However, a significant percentage still lacks awareness about these measures. When eva-cuating, households prioritise taking dry food, essential documents, and bed-ding, among other items. Yet, many don't have detailed household contingency plans. Spending is primarily focused on food, shelter, and water and sanitation. Financial decisions traditionally lie with male household heads, but there's an emerging trend of collective decision-making. Anticipatory actions, particularly disbursing cash aid before floods, are seen as critical for preparedness. Howe-ver, challenges exist, like blocked roads and concerns over price hikes. While the government has implemented safety net programs, there's still room for expan-ded coverage and support Response Phase: Needs and Coping Tactics: The top five immediate needs in-clude: a continuous supply of safe drinking water (43%), essential food packages such as rice and lentils (42%), toilet repairs and provision of temporary latrines (33%), repair and disinfection of drinking water sources (25%), and standardised dry food packages (13%). Several other needs, which garnered less attention in the survey, such as mental health support, reproductive health services, and drainage and waste management, remain crucial to safeguard lives post-flood. On the subject of long-term concerns following large-scale monsoon floods, over 60% of respondents identified financial deficits as a prime worry, with a significant number expressing apprehension regarding food security. The data showed financial strains and food security as the prime concerns, with negative coping tactics like selling livestock or productive assets being more prominent among farmers. Households’ Information Needs and Community Engagement: In assessing the information needs and preferences of communities in the context of flood events, it's clear that relocation stands as the primary concern. A proactive local-level approach, in partnership with local authorities, is deemed essential. Despite the widespread use of mobile technology, face-to-face interactions re-main paramount for both disseminating information and soliciting feedback. This preference underscores strong community cohesion and collective responsibility. Moreover, community leaders serve as crucial intermediaries between their communities and aid providers. While technology, especially mobile phones, offers a channel for feedback, it's the direct, personal engagements that the community values most for raising concerns and giving feedback. Overall, these insights highlight the importance of direct, inclusive, and participatory engage-ments for effective disaster management and community development. Conclusions and Recommendations: In addressing monsoon floods in Bangladesh, the study underscores crucial areas of focus. Firstly, there's an urgent need to bolster early warning systems and community trust in them, given that only half recognise their vulnerability to floods and just a third receive timely alerts. Household preparedness is commendable, with a significant awareness of mitigation tactics, such as elevating homesteads. However, the vulnerability of 'kutcha' houses underscores the importance of promoting resilient housing. Financial challenges are prevalent, highlighting the necessity for financial resilience measures and diverse livelihood strategies. The research advocates for a robust household contingency plan, improved evacuation methods, and a targeted cash+ approach to address extensive flood damages. Emphasising both household and community-level strategies is pivotal for holistic disaster management. Post-flood, addressing essential needs such as clean water and food is vital, along with continued community consultation, prioritising face-to-face engagement. Ensuring access to crucial flood-related information and enhancing community feedback mechanisms emerge as top recommendations.