“Bangladesh learned about the value of [early warning] in 1970 when a cyclone resulted in more than 300,000 deaths. The government and people subsequently put in place effective early warning and preparedness measures involving modern cyclone-forecasting systems and more than 5,000 people to get the message to the villages.
When a cyclone of similar force struck in 1997, 200 people were killed, which brings up to mind a point I want to make. The interesting thing to me is what Bangladesh did to marry old-fashioned communication with modern technology, the so-called ‘last mile’ of the early warning system. It’s something that we dare not forget in our UN work for the tsunami…
All the sophisticated technology won’t matter if we don’t reach real communities and people. Satellites, buoys, data networks will make us safer, but we must invest in the training, the institution building, the awareness raising on the ground.”
The Bangladesh story was a key element in our NEWS:SL concept paper. And this would be a good opportunity to announce that the “train-the-trainer” workshop of the LIRNEasia-Sarvodaya last-mile project, designed and delivered by Buddhi Weerasinghe and Nalaka Gunawardene of TVEAP starts on 3rd April 2006 at Bandaragama.