“There are certain rice seeds that can be planted after the flood water reduces. We learnt how to preserve and plant these seeds from the ‘Hello Red Crescent’ radio programme.”

Listener, Hello Red Crescent radio programme

Due to its geographical location, Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters, which are increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change. The coastal regions are affected by cyclones and tidal surges, and flooding occurs every year in the northern region. To build awareness of disaster preparedness among people in Kurigram and Barguna districts, Bangladesh Red Crescent chose community radio stations as a medium of communication and since July 2015, “Hello Red Crescent: We Listen To You!” has been regularly broadcast.

The theme of each radio show is decided through discussion sessions to identify the issues and information that is important to communities. A community-based listeners’ club is formed to share information about disaster preparedness and response. Before each show is broadcast, a Red Crescent youth volunteer informs the listeners’ club members about the topic and broadcasting schedule. The volunteers collect people’s opinions with an audio recorder and the recorded interviews are aired during the show’s regular segment “Voices of the People”. Along with a live question-and-answer session with a guest expert, key messages on related topics are broadcast. At the end of every programme, the best question is selected and the winner is awarded a radio. An address to post opinions and feedback to about the programme is also announced.

Providing vital information as a form of aid through radio adds a new dimension to the overall activities of the Bangladesh Red Crescent. As a result, people are able to take action to protect themselves and their families in disasters.

Reaching out to communities

The series, which began with a discussion on “How to Prepare and Stay Healthy in Winter”, drew so many calls that the community radio station had to extend the show for an additional 30 minutes. Many requests were made by listeners to continue this show in future with an expanded one hour’s running time. It was clear that the information shared with communities was relevant to their context and that communities had a good understanding of the Red Crescent’s humanitarian services.

“The interest in this type of radio show was so much greater than we anticipated,” said Sayeeda Farhana, Senior Disaster Management Officer, IFRC Bangladesh Delegation. “To us, it shows the need to enhance two-way dialogue with disaster-affected communities. Through this platform, people are able to share their experiences and discuss with the Red Crescent how to tackle vulnerabilities in their communities. Based on the response from listeners calling the shows, it is evident that there is growing demand for receiving information, whether on disaster preparedness or associated relief efforts by the humanitarian community. It also supports advocacy efforts to address the underlying risks communities face.”

See the video of “Hello Red Crescent: We Listen To You!”