3 Mar 2022

Supporting Flood Forecast-Based Action and Learning in Bangladesh (SUFAL): Phase I and Phase II

The SUFAL project works with communities, government institutions and local disaster management committees to build existing capacity and support the implementation of community-focused, forecast-based actions to mitigate the potential impacts of monsoon floods in Bangladesh’s northwest region. It focuses on integrating anticipatory action into Bangladesh’s national disaster-risk management framework by: (1) improving access to local impact-based forecasts and early warnings; (2) identifying thresholds and setting triggers for early action; (3) testing appropriate early actions that address the needs and priorities of vulnerable communities; and (4) generating evidence and lessons to influence policy, plans and financing for anticipatory action.

The SUFAL-II project continues to support the Bangladesh government in developing a community-based approach to forecast-based action. It does this by highlighting the risks and specific needs of the most vulnerable households and communities; linking these to available institutional resources and services; and, in turn, supporting institutions to better assist the most vulnerable communities ahead of anticipated floods.

The SUFAL-II consortium is managed by CARE Deutschland e.V. and implemented by CARE Bangladesh as the lead agency. Partners are Concern Worldwide and their local partners ESDO (CARE) and the SKS Foundation (CWW), and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES). The project is supported financially by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH). CARE UK provides technical support in project implementation.

After the successful completion of the first phase, the second phase focusing on consolidating learning and scaling up forecast-based financing and forecast-based action (FbA/FbF) started on 1 August 2021 and will continue until 31 December 2023.

The following project outputs are expected:

  • Output 1: Impact-based forecasts, early-warning information with extended lead times, and tailored forecast information for target sectors are available and used by stakeholders and communities.

  • Output 2: Communities and institutions are able to take timely, appropriate and inclusive early actions to anticipate floods.

  • Output 3: Standard operating procedures, early action protocols and financing mechanisms are developed to support the implementation of early actions at the local level.

Start/end date     

Phase 1: August 2019 – June 2021 

Phase 2: August 2021 – December 2023

Hazards covered    

Monsoon floods

Regions covered

Phase I: Kurigram, Gaibandha and Jamalpur districts of northern Bangladesh

Phase II: Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur and Bogura districts of northern Bangladesh

Early action sectors     

Agriculture | Livestock | Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) | Health and water-borne diseases | Evacuation | Shelter | Social protection (cash) | Gender and inclusion

Anticipatory action protocols/plans in place    

Early Action Matrix for Flooding

Activations

2020 monsoon

Population reached during activation

During the 2020 monsoon, SUFAL supported 100,000 people with community-based early actions

Key actors / implementing partners  

Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Department of Disaster Management | Bangladesh Water Development Board, Flood Forecast and Warning Center | Inter-ministerial National Taskforce on FbF/FbA | Local disaster management committees 

Project description

The government of Bangladesh recently adopted its revised Standing Order on Disasters (SOD 2019), which includes a National Taskforce on FbF/FbA. This is coordinated by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the Department of Disaster Management, and is responsible for: (1) providing guidance on FbA-related strategies (e.g., risk, triggers) to coordinate FbF/FbA for various disasters; (2) the release of funds; and (3) preparing protocols and/or guidelines with roles and responsibilities.

To support the government in integrating the FbA approach, Phase II of the SUFAL project (SUFAL-II) will facilitate national-level discussions on triggers, protocols, early actions and financing mechanisms for monsoon flooding in the northwest region of Bangladesh. It will continue to work with the Flood Forecast and Warning Center to strengthen its capacity, focusing on the generation of localized forecasts and longer lead times. The project will also work with end-users to ensure the information they need for decision-making is made available in time.

An early action matrix, developed in SUFAL-I, will be shared, reviewed and refined in consultation with the National Taskforce, the Department of Disaster Management, the Flood Forecast and Warning Center and other stakeholders. SUFAL-II will test gender-responsive and inclusive early actions by expanding into the agriculture, livestock, WASH and health (e.g., water-borne diseases, Covid-19) sectors, while increasing its focus on developing the capacity of communities and the most vulnerable households to take early actions.

Financing mechanisms mapped out in the first phase will be linked to triggers in the standard operating procedures, early action protocols or the Early Action Matrix for Flooding (e.g., through the development of guidelines for district disaster management funds). In selected locations, a pilot will link to forecast-based actions and social safety net programmes to test the possibility of supporting the most vulnerable households through existing social protection schemes and channels ahead of anticipated floods.

After receiving 4,500 Bangladeshi Taka from SUFAL, my family could immediately move to a relative’s house by hiring a boat.

Mariam Katun Cash grant recipient in Gaibanda district

Outcomes and lessons learned

SUFAL Phase I

  • Over 100,000 people supported with timely and localized early-warning information and community-based early actions, implemented through local disaster management committees.
  • At the community level, shelter renovations encouraged communities to evacuate earlier. More households moved their livestock to cattle sheds, and cash for work schemes provided employment and the cash needed to protect livelihoods and assets, while maintaining communication.
  • According to a post-monsoon assessment of the 2020 floods, 58 per cent of respondents were financially able to take early actions, and 36 per cent of respondents needed partial support. Average savings per household were 19,161 Bangladeshi Taka (BDT) in household assets, 36,552 BDT in livestock, and 23,451 BDT in fisheries.
  • According to the evaluation report, 97 per cent of the 39,729 households in the targeted unions received early-warning messages through community volunteers, loudspeaker announcements and individual information-dissemination processes in 2020.
  • In addition, 8,800 individuals in disaster management committees and communities directly received regular flood forecasts, early warnings and advisories through voice messages. About 63-80 per cent of early-warning recipients took immediate early actions three to five days before the flood. Women were more responsive in terms of taking early actions and sharing early warnings.
  • The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre developed and adopted impact-based forecasts and vulnerability mapping, and generated 15-day outlooks for the flood in 2020.
  • Community-based early-action plans and triggers for disaster management committees were produced for the 2020 monsoon and adopted for 2021.
  • The National Taskforce on FbF/FbA began joint advocacy efforts with Red Cross Red Crescent societies, United Nations agencies and the Start Network.

SUFAL Phase II

  • Three types of community groups (farmer, women, youth) have been formed at the union level – a total of 27 groups in two districts that include 703 community members – for meaningful community participation.
  • As an entry point for FbA in the disaster risk management framework, community risk assessments and risk-reduction action plans have been prepared in nine unions; these include early action plans with an additional focus on agriculture, livestock, WASH, health, and gender and inclusion. In five unions of Gaibandha district, the early actions have been incorporated in the local government disaster management plan.
  • 49 members of the union disaster management committee in Gaibangha district have received training in capacity building.
  • SUFAL-II developed a set of videos demonstrating early actions that can be taken by communities and households prior to the flood, based on their own capacity. Targeting semi-literate and illiterate community members, these videos are produced using simple language in Bangla. The early actions were demonstrated in consultation with relevant government officials. A total of nine demonstration videos have been prepared, including early actions for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, WASH, health and water-borne diseases.
  • Some schemes have been identified to link social safety net programmes to anticipatory action. Consultations with both local- and national-level administrations are ongoing for a pilot study to generate evidence.