Simple lack of warning and information is often a factor in increasing casualties from a disaster. Now Bangladesh, one of the poorest, most low-lying and most densely populated nations on earth is trying to harness the power of radio to improve things.
Six local community stations have started broadcasting, another 8 have been approved, and applications are in for 22 more. Bazlur Rahman, chief executive officer of Bangladesh’s Network for Radio and Communication, says most people in the countryside are illiterate, but that they ‘can easily understand weather bulletins and other instructions' when they are broadcast in local dialects.
A local fisherman said crews are encouraged to carry radios with them, so they can return home quickly if there is any danger. One community station plans to provide a free solar-powered radio to each cyclone shelter so people can receive safety instructions while they are sheltering there.
In 1970, Bangladesh fell victim to the most disastrous storm in history, which killed up to a million people. Most had no warning of what was happening until huge waves crashed upon them.
*From those nice people at the MACE archive - a report I did on the death of Imperial Typewriters at Leicester in 1975.