Dhaka, May 8 (UNB) –Though there is a sharp fall in radio listenership among people in rural Bangladesh, community radio still can be an enormous tool to help vulnerable coastal people face cyclones, says a new study.
The airing of authentic news in local languages through community radios would be a great saviourfor millions of people living in the isolated and vulnerable coastal regions, mainly small chars without electricity.
The study titled ‘Capacity Assessment of Community Radios for Disaster Campaign in Bangladesh’ was conducted between super cyclones Titily and Fani that hit Bangladesh and Odisha coasts in 2018 and 2019.
This study is based on intensive observation of people’s behaviour during the campaign on cyclonic disasters, analysis of the radio programme contents and broadcast trends of four community radio stations -- Radio Naf, Radio SagorDiwp, Radio Krishi and LokoBetar-- situated along the 710-km Bangladesh’s coastline from Teknaf to Barguna districts.
Mohammad Sahid Ullah, a professor at the Communication and Journalism Department of Chittagong University, led the study.
The study has found that lack of an adequate campaign plan is a roadblock to an effective grassroots campaign for community radio stations working in disaster-prone areas despite having potential in collecting, transmitting and sharing detailed disaster-related information.
The study, conducted under the Hoso-Bunka Foundation research grant award, recommends a communications plan for disaster campaigns combined with maintaining a network amongst community radio stations before, during, and after the cyclone aimed at contributing to community safety, a decrease in property damage, and overall morale in the shadow of cyclonic disasters.
Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) AHM Bazlur Rahman said there is a need for more community radio stations to keep people informed about how to face natural calamities, including cyclones, saying the existing community radios are playing a very significant role.
Thirty-two community radios got licences to operate and 18 of them are currently operational while two more community radios got clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, he told UNB.
The two new community radio stations are Community Radio Saikat, from Cox’s Bazer, initiated by The Coastal Association for Social Transformation (COAST) Trust and Community Radio Lalon, from Kushtia, initiated by Jyoti Development Foundation (JDF).
Now Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will allocate spectrum for two-community radio stations after a spectrum vetting process.
“The government needs to award licences to more community radios,” said Bazlur Rahman mentioning that the direction of cyclones will frequently changedue to climate change.
He said the government needs to provide generators to each community radio station as there is no electricity in coastal areas. “We need to enhance the capacity of community radios as people in coastal areas only get information through this medium during cyclones.”
Radio listenership though not more than one percent among the people of study areas, it has been found that illiterate people, including women living outside the dykes, trust community radio bulletins relating to cyclones as those were broadcast in their local dialects.
The study observed that the people of upazila headquarters of the studied community radio catchment areas, usually a 17-km radius relatively depend on television channels while people living outside,trust community radio programmes and bulletins and as well as the evacuation call by cyclone preparedness programme (CPP) volunteers in absence of electricity in their areas during bad weather.
It observed from in-depth interviews from vulnerable people along with the respected community radio station managers that the dissemination of warning messages relayed via community radios has had a positive outcome in terms of reducing casualties from cyclone and tidalbore during an emergency situation.
It, however, indicates that the attitudetowards mediated warnings held by coastal people differ depending upon their access to media, type of dwelling and differing levels of literacy.
The study stresses the importance of providing training to community radio station managers and volunteers on special condition of broadcast along with safety of their own.
It also recommends a comprehensive broadcast manual for station managers which will enhance people-friendly cyclone-related information dissemination system and manufacturing mobile phone sets with the facilities to listen community radio programmes without connecting air phone with the device as the mobile phone penetration among the people of the coast is almost 90 percent.
Manikganj, May 8 (UNB) - Heat from brick kilns has destroyed paddy on about 166 acres of field in Sadar upazila’s Gokulnagar and Sulandi villages, farmers and agriculture officials say.
But there is nothing unique in this year’s incident.
Gour Chandra Sarkar, a deputy assistant agriculture officer, says paddy fields are damaged every year this way. “We’ve warned the brick kiln operators several times but nothing’s changed,” he says.
Agriculture officials say the IRRI rice production target for this season is unlikely to be met.
Farmers say they had been preparing to harvest the paddy in two weeks’ time but now they are staring at a bleak future with their only mean of livelihood gone.
About 200 farmers have been affected. Shahab Uddin, manager of one of the brick kilns, says they are making a list of farmers for compensating them.
Farmers have been asking for removal of brick kilns from near the fields for a long time, but their words have fallen on deaf ears.
Although operators of about 15 brick kilns near the paddy fields have acknowledged their roles, it is yet unclear whether they will be relocated.
Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Imtiaz Alam says brick kiln operators paid no heed to their warnings.
“Paddy on about 500 bighas has been completely damaged this time. Compensating the farmers is the only thing that can be done now,” he says.
Dhaka, May 8 (UNB) - The government has taken a number of ‘important’ projects to expand the activities and surveillance of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) across the country.
BSTI, the country’s lone national standard institution that helps ensure food and health safety and protect the environment through ensuring the quality of locally-produced products, provides CM (Certification Marks) certificates for various products from its Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Barishal offices.
According to an official document, the state-run organisation has taken an initiative to provide CM certificates from all of its existing district-level offices.
The plan is aimed at ensuring the marketing of quality products by companies and metrology services to people in addition to creating institutional infrastructure of BSTI at the district level.
Currently, the 'expansion and strengthening of BSTI (in 5 districts-2nd revised) project' is going on in Rangpur and Mymensingh divisions with Faridpur, Cumilla and Cox's Bazar districts.
The project, being implemented at an estimated cost Tk 5,182.45 lakh, was supposed to be completed by the end of this fiscal year.
The project has been taken to set up office-cum-laboratories in 12 districts -- Gopalganj, Jashore, Kushtia, Dinajpur, Patuakhali, Tangail, Pabna, Rangamati, Gazipur, Narsingdi, Noakhali and Bagura.
Another Tk 23,306.62 lakh project taken for establishing modern BSTI regional offices in Chattogram and Khulna is scheduled to be completed by the end of current financial year.
The aim of the project is to ensure quality products to consumers, construct the total structure of 10-storey buildings and finishing work up to 2nd floor, including foundation for office-cum-laboratory buildings with 10-storey foundation, in Chattogram and Khulna, and procure modern laboratory equipment.
For testing facilities of air conditioners, refrigerators, electric fans and electric motors at the BSTI, the government is implementing another project at a cost of Tk 1,200 lakh.
This will increase and improve the facilities of BSTI for testing electrical and electronic products through establishing an energy-efficient product testing laboratory.
It will also test air conditioners, refrigerators, motors and fans using modern technologies.
The BSTI has a plan to set up a laboratory for testing tyre tubes, LPG cylinders and protective helmets.
It is also considering modernising and expanding its National Metrology Laboratory (NML) and expand the Petroleum Product Testing Laboratory.
The BSTI also plays a vital role in increasing export by enhancing acceptability of local goods in the international market and removing international trade barriers.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) – Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to come up with a ‘clear roadmap’ for the repatriation of Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar and identify all the issues that are hindering and obstructing the repatriation process.
“We’ve also asked Myanmar to find out ways and means to remove the obstacles,” a senior official told UNB.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas with more than 700,000 fleeing to Bangladesh from Rakhine state since August 25, 2017.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed ‘Arrangements on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ on November 23, 2017. No Rohingya has so far been repatriated as the current crisis steps into almost two years.
Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.
Foreign Ministry officials said Bangladesh insisted on adopting a ‘rights-based approach’ so that their freedoms are ensured with free movement without fear, and freedom of choice.
Bangladesh is also seeking “full and faithful” implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State by the Myanmar government, said another official.
He said Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to dismantle the existing IDP (internally-displaced persons) camps and take back the several thousand Rohingyas stuck in limbo in the Zero Line of the Bangladesh- Myanmar border.
At the recently held fourth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the repatriation of displaced Myanmar residents from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the Myanmar side demonstrated a ‘positive outlook’ and agreed to initiate follow-up measures for expediting the process of repatriation of the Rohingyas, said a diplomatic source.
There was clearly an understanding that ‘verifiable measures’ have to be taken so that the repatriation process is completed within a time-bound framework as agreed under the arrangements for the return of Rohingyas.
Myanmar has responded positively to Bangladesh’s proposal to deepen and expand further the involvement of ASEAN as a group so that the repatriation process is expedited, another official said.
Bangladesh wants Myanmar to allow a greater engagement of the international community, including ASEAN and interested partners, in improving the situation on the ground in Rakhine.
Bangladesh also proposed appropriate mechanisms for the coordination of actions among those actors to create a greater confidence, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Some 73 percent of the surveyed Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps do not believe that the repatriation will happen in two years' time, according to Xchange, a research institution.
Besides, 69 percent of them do not believe that Myanmar will recognise and accept them as its citizens in the next two-year timeframe. The institution conducted a three-week survey between March and April on 1,277 Rohingyas.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) – Online shopping has started gaining momentum ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr amid its growing popularity with the boom in internet penetration across the country.
An increasing number of people, mostly city dwellers, choose e-shopping to save time as well as avoid traffic chaos and other hazards in the busy city life.
Like regular shopping malls and other shopping places, online shops also offer discount and other facilities to attract buyers ahead of the biggest religious festival of Muslims.
E-shopping started gaining pace particularly after Shab-e Barat and its upward trend will continue till 15th Ramadan, said insiders.
A two-day e-commerce fair will be held at the capital’s Gulistan on May 17-18 to promote online shopping ahead of Eid-ul Fitr.
Bangladesh Post Office and e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) are organising a series of fairs to promote online shopping.
Sifat Ara, owner of Women's Fashion BD, who runs online business through Facebook from the city’s Shewrapara area, said their sales started going up after Shab-e-Barat.
“We used to get 15 delivery orders on average a day before Shab-e Barat, but now we’re getting 25-30 delivery orders every day,” she said.
Sifat expressed the hope that the upward trend in their sale will continue till 15th Ramadan.
She said her online shop gets orders from even outside Dhaka.
Abdul Wahed Tomal, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said e-shopping has been witnessing an upward trend for the last two weeks. “The average number of e-shopping deliveries was 25,000 every day before the last two weeks, but now it has reached 35,000-40,000 ahead of Eid-ul Fitr,” he said, adding that different e-shops now offer discount and other facilities to attract more consumers.
Tomal said e-shopping marked 30 percent growth this year as the number of social media users, particularly mobile Facebook, has also sharply increased in both urban and rural areas.
He said the number of e-shopping delivery orders was nearly 20,000 a day last year, which is now more than 25,000. “The yearly turnover of the country’s online shopping is Tk 800 crore-Tk 1,000 crore,” said the general secretary of e-CAB, an association of more than 900 e-shops.
He said the e-CAB and the Bangladesh Post Office will jointly organise an e-commerce fair on the GPO premises on May 17-18 next where leading e-commerce companies are scheduled to showcase their products and services.
The e-CAB and the Bangladesh Post Office started arranging a series of e-commerce fairs in divisional headquarters this year. The fairs were arranged in Chattogram on March 30, Rajshahi on April 6, Sylhet on April 13, Rangpur on April 27 and in Barishal on May 4. A similar fair will be held in Mymensingh on May 11.
Marjahan Akter, a service-holder living in Mirpur-13, said she purchases products online in some cases to avoid traffic congestion on the city’s streets and save time.
She, however, remains concerned over the quality of products in case of e-shopping.
The e-shopping is becoming more trustworthy as buyers can see reviews before buying any product from online.
In the last few years, online shopping and business gained much popularity thanks to the rise in social media users like Facebook.
There were some 9.3 crore internet users, including 8.7 crore mobile internet subscribers, in the country till March 2019, according to statistics provided by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.