People to get flood alerts through SMS from now

Marginal people will get SMS notifications in their phones prior to three days to three hours of the onset of floods from now.

A digital forecasting and warning system was introduced to speed up disaster management in Bangladesh by the Ministry of Water Resources on Monday.

This initiative was piloted in 2020 at 38 upazilas under 14 districts along the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Padma rivers.

Currently, only android smartphone users enjoy the service. Google provides the forecast through push notifications on phones.

In 2020, one million smart notifications, through 300,000 android smartphones, were sent to people living in flood-hit areas.

However, as the number of android phone users in remote areas of Bangladesh is still relatively low, people will get alerts through instant mobile SMS. Mobile network operators of the country are working in this regard. 

Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and a2i – under the leadership of the Ministry of Water Resources – along with the assistance of Google have developed this improved flood forecasting and warning system.

State Minister of Water Resources Zaheed Farooque, who inaugurated this initiative, was the chief guest at the program, titled “Digital Flood Forecasting and Warning System”.

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's timely and well planned approach to tackling disasters has played a vital role in keeping Bangladesh's economic development dynamic.

State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak was virtually present at the program.

"In my childhood, I saw that my hometown was flooded with water and we just didn't get any time to be prepared. So, if we can give the forecast at least three hours before, we will be able to save many lives and wealth," he said. 

He also said that 71% people of Bangladesh live in disaster prone areas and this initiative would help in the implementation of Vision 2021.

Speakers said that as a flood-prone third world country, Bangladesh had already been appreciated globally for its efficient flood management system.

State Minister of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid was present at the program.

Among others, NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary of Information and Communication Technology Division; Md Mohsin, secretary of Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief; Kabir Bin Anwar, senior secretary of Ministry of Water Resources; and Firoz Salah Uddin, secretary general of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society were also present.

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