Water and flood safety training in Bangladesh

The Inter Sector Coordination Group has highlighted that ‘emergency life-saving response remains an urgent priority’ within Rohingya refugee camps. Building on our expertise in water rescue and our experience of the 2018 monsoon season in Bangladesh, we’re launching a new training programme to address this issue.

There are 914,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps and settlements in the Cox’s Bazaar district of Bangladesh. Of these, some 215,000 people are living in areas at high risk of flooding during the monsoon season. Storm surges are a hazard in this densely populated, low-lying area, where surge waves have the potential to cause devastating damage. Four camps in the region have been identified as particularly vulnerable to such surges.

Whilst volunteer safety teams have already been established in many camps, specific water safety training and access to vital equipment is often limited. MOAS is on the ground to build capacity with people living in the camps and with other NGOs, in order to support communities to manage the effects of a storm surge. Through our new Water and Flood Safety Training project, we will share our search and rescue expertise and experience in flood safety management, offering comprehensive, specialised training.

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This project will build the capacity of volunteers from the four most vulnerable camps, training them as first responders who can act quickly in the aftermath of a storm surge or flood.  Since much has already been done within the camps to mitigate risk and build resilience by developing volunteer safety groups, MOAS will be working within existing frameworks and delivering training to up-skill established groups.

MOAS’s Operational Team Leader will coordinate the project, delivering intensive water and flood safety training to two volunteers from each camp. A key aspect of this training will be teaching volunteers how to operate safely within flooded environments and perform rescues using ‘throw bags’ to pull people in distress from the water.

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After their initial training, our volunteers will be able to act as trainers themselves for other volunteers within the camps, ensuring that skill development and retention continues within the community. Using this in-country, train-the-trainer approach will allow up to 200 volunteers, 50 in each camp, to access our knowledge and skills and become first responders in case of emergency. Using trainers from the Rohingya community will also ensure cultural and linguistic understanding within the wider outreach project.

Our volunteers’ life-saving efforts will be supported by the provision of 75 ‘bottle ring’ floatation devices and 300 throw bags, which will be distributed within the community. The throw bags will be manufactured in-country to internationally recognised standards, providing a source of income for Bangladeshi host communities, while also ensuring they are produced in the area where they are needed and thus available for rapid distribution.

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This project builds on the flood safety training that MOAS has already carried out with other organisations working in the Cox’s Bazar area, including MSF, ADRA, Save the Children and WHO mobile medical teams. Training camp residents, as well as NGO partners, will help the community as a whole to become more resilient and better prepared to deal with emergency situations.

We are excited to launch this new programme, which builds on our expertise in rapid response and fulfils our mission to provide vital support where it is urgently needed. Stay tuned for updates!

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