Bangladesh has to drain out runoff of an area which is 12 times larger than its size, which by definition leads it to deal with flood issues from its essence. Only 7.5 percent of the combined catchment areas of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers (i.e. 0.12 Mkm2 out of 1.55 Mkm2) are within Bangladesh. The remaining 92 percent are distributed over Nepal, India, China and Bhutan. More or less every year flood affected the “Char Land” (a small Island within the river) and low-lying areas.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent network along with some NGOs and INGOs are implementing different community-based programmes at the community level for reducing flood vulnerability. Most of the time when designing these projects, we forget about the local context, where people are already tackling those challenges with grassroots solutions. Communities that are exposed to constant disasters are way ahead of some organisations when crafting local innovations.

As an innovation pioneer, one of my main goals is to better understand the context of the people we work with, seek for bottlenecks and use them as an opportunity to create alternative answers. In order to achieve this, I’m trying to identify locals that are attaining better results with the same resources, by observing, inquiring and researching. Second, I would like to involve unusual partners that can help me provide feedback on the project design and help me shape different hypothesis that can be prototyped afterwards. Third, the challenge will be experiment and play with the different hypothesis by collaborating with the different actors. In the long run, there’s a whole training to stimulate creative thinking, but is all about trying over and over again,

Mohammad Shahjahan (Saju)

Forecast-based Financing Programme Officer Bangladesh Red Crescent , IFRC Global Innovation Pioneer

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