The super-cyclone Amphan was a powerful and deadly tropical storm striking the southern part of Bangladesh in May 2020. It struck when the country is already struggling against the outbreak of COVID-19. Active Citizens volunteers of Satkhira, Khulna and Chattagram have provided key emergency assistance and showed their support for the affected people. The partners of the British Council mobilised Active Citizens with impressive speed and agility during this catastrophe. Shushilan, Uttaran and YPSA are working in the southern parts of Bangladesh and they reported that the members of the youth voluntarily involved themselves in the emergency response activities.
Active Citizens in Khulna
In Khulna, the Active Citizens have played extraordinary roles to help their local communities cope with Amphan and Covid-19. At Dacope Upazila under Khulna District, Active Citizens from four different Social Action Projects directly took part through different initiatives. They participated in emergency response meetings conducted by Shushilan and supported the effort with continuous field updates regarding the cyclone situation. During any calamity when regular communication arrangements can no longer operate optimally, the reporting support helps in understanding the adversity of the situation and taking correct measures. Active Citizens also communicated with local Disaster Management Committees (DMCs) with the field updates and cooperated with Red Crescent and different volunteer organisations to disseminate Early Warning messages in the field. They also provided support in bringing vulnerable people to cyclone shelters, cooperated with cyclone shelter management committees on the COVID-19 aspect, ensuring maintenance of physical distancing, avoiding large gatherings within one room, setting up hand washing points, etc. They also facilitated DMCs with the distribution of dry food items and non-food items among the people in the shelters. At Dumuria Upazila under Khulna District, Active Citizens were involved in raising awareness in Amphan-affected areas for physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing practices. They also raised funds from local elites and distributed 200 masks among the needy. The youth members worked hand-in-hand with local people in repairing damaged embankments in 60 areas in Shyamnagar, Koyra, Ashashuni, Khulna and Satkhira.
Active Citizens in Satkhira
Around 350 Active Citizen volunteers and like-minded youths have been working with the British Council partner Uttaran since the first week of March to reduce the spread of the virus. On the day before Cyclone Amphan made landfall, over 500 Active Citizens from Satkhira and Khulna joined forces with Government, Uttaran and other Non-Government Organisations to reduce the loss of lives. Since then, hundreds of youth leaders have been assisting NGOs to provide emergency relief materials for the Amphan-affected communities. Many Active Citizens have also started their own activities to help their communities. Nearly 100 Active Citizen leaders are now directly working with Uttaran in distributing humanitarian aid to people’s doorsteps to avoid any form of gatherings.
Active Citizens in Chattogram
The cyclone Amphan has had a comparatively mild impact on Chattogram. The Government of Bangladesh prepared for the cyclone under the leadership of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, which began holding coordination meetings with all relevant government and non-government stakeholders from 16 May onwards. As a complementary part of the government’s cyclone-preparedness activities, the British Council partner YPSA’s community radio SagorGiri FM 99.2 broadcasted special weather forecasting bulletins. Active Citizens Youth leaders have worked as volunteers on Radio SagorGirifor to broadcast news on weather forecast and other important information on cyclone preparedness. They also took part in field activities such as alerting people via megaphones for safe evacuation in coastal areas. They also helped transport the vulnerable people to cyclone shelters.
During the COVID-19 pandemic when people need to stay home to be safe, our Active Citizens took the responsibility of community safety on their own shoulders, setting exemplary cases of humanity. These youth leaders proved that even though southwest Bangladesh remains vulnerable because of climate-induced disasters and the impact of COVID-19, there is hope for a better future when people unite and rise together to meet adversities.