An Android-based disaster risk awareness application named "Prepare", which is the first of its kind, has been launched in the country.
After downloading the app, developed under the Dhaka Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness – Enhancing Resilience (DEEPER) project, users will be able to know pre-disaster, during the disaster, and post-disaster dos and don'ts during earthquakes, fires, waterlogging, thunderstorms, lightning, and the pandemic.
The app will provide messages in written, visual, and audio forms.
Prepare was launched at a webinar titled "Prepare for preparedness" jointly organised by Christian Aid, a project partner of DEEPER, and The Business Standard on Sunday.
DEEPER project has been raising disaster risk awareness and emergency preparedness in the high-density areas of Dhaka. It has been working with community volunteers, educational institutions, private sector employees, and communities so that the society is prepared to respond to disasters.
Officials from government and non-government organisations, academicians, volunteers, representatives of the private sector, and community members shared their views on the app at the webinar.
Bangladesh is one the most vulnerable countries to natural hazards and climate change while the increasing concentration of population, high density of assets, and socioeconomic and spatial vulnerabilities make cities more vulnerable, speakers warned.
They expected that the app would be helpful and would meet the needs of communities.
"The initiative aligns with the Disaster Management Policy 2015, which encourages the use of mobile technology to reduce disaster risks," said Cristian Aid official Nusrat when introducing the app.
By recognising and embracing the potential of digital applications, Prepare aspires to raise awareness in an inclusive manner, she said.
"In the app, users will get features like disaster preparedness and weather forecast while the most attractive feature is learning through gaming."
Furthermore, all emergency numbers are included in the app to ensure total security, mentioned Nusrat.
Md Atiqul Huq, director general of the Department of Disaster Management, said many apps had been developed by many organisations earlier but all those remain unusable due to the lack of proper management.
Expressing hope that the new app would be sustainable, he said his department would extend its full support to reach people at the grassroots and overcome all obstacles.
The department's Deputy Director Netai Dey Sarker said no app provides such rich features like Prepare.
Now a good exit plan has to be made for sustainability of the app, he added.
Prabir Kumar Das, programmer at the department, drew attention to the fact that the app was made for Android users only and Apple phone users would thus be deprived of it.
He recommended including more services in the app to reach the maximum number of people.
Save the Children representative Simon Rahman emphasised the promotion of the app.
"Different types of promotional steps have to be taken and social media platforms can be used for this purpose."
Christian Aid Country Director Pankaj Kumar and Md Jahangir Alam, assistant director of the disaster risk management department at Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, also spoke at the programme and urged everyone to use the app.
The Business Standard Chief Reporter Morshed Noman delivered the welcome speech while Abdul Jalil Lone, delegate-DEEPER German Red Cross, moderated the webinar.
The DEEPER project is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and is implemented through a consortium approach with partners such as Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, German Red Cross, British Red Cross, Action contre la Faim, and Christian Aid.