Bangladesh's Tal camp, flooded in 2008

Communities in flood-prone Bangladesh are to benefit from better early warning systems, thanks to a new Islamic Relief project which began this month.

Current systems rely on hydro-meteorological data from across the country. Data from river gauges and rainfall is collected several times a day, phoned in to a central Dhaka office and then manually added to a computer register – a time-consuming process which is vulnerable to error.

Faster, more accurate data

Islamic Relief has worked in Bangladesh since 1991, delivering projects to protect communities from the impact of disasters. This latest project sees the organisation teaming-up with the Bangladesh Water Development Board to improve the accuracy and speed at which potentially life-saving information is available.

In an agreement signed in May, we will be working together to deliver a system that uses mobile SMS technology to collect and send data automatically – dramatically shortening the time required to update the central register, as well as improving the quality of information.

Islamic Relief Bangladesh flood forecasting workshop

Workshop with Islamic Relief and Water Development Board staff, held on 18 June 2014.

Better and earlier flood warnings

Supported by Match Aid funding from the UK Government, the project will enable Bangladeshi authorities to deliver better, earlier flood warnings – with a five-day forecasting model built-in to the innovative new system.

With forecasting times cut by at least two hours, forecasts will be produced twice a day rather than just once. In the monsoon season particularly, vulnerable communities will receive early warnings and flood updates via SMS mobile messaging.

Islamic Relief will be working with the Water Development Board for 18 months, as the system is developed and tested across two flood seasons.