Disaster Preparedness and Response

Draft of a Workshop for FOCUS, Aga Khan Foundation on Disaster Preparedness
by Richard Holloway


From Disaster Relief to Development in Zambia – Report on Disaster Preparedness Training Workshop
Delivered by Richard Holloway at Catholic Training Centre, Lusaka, November 1996


Pictures to reflect on experience of Cyclones in Bangladesh

Pictures to reflect on experience of floods in Bangladesh 1

Pictures to reflect on experience of floods in Bangladesh 2  

The attached documents are two sets of drawn pictures from respectively floods and cyclones in Bangladesh. They depict important events in the lives of the people who were affected by these two kinds of disasters, and they were commissioned and used in order to help people who had been affected by disasters to consider what had happened to them and what they might do next time to avoid the same problems. These are concerned with community level activities and actions – they do not deal with large district or national disaster prevention or preparedness programmes.

The process of producing these books of pictures was that CSOs which were were working with communities on a range of social development programmes in Bangladesh were dismayed that so often with disasters so much of their investment in the communities was “washed away” (sometimes literally). They started to think what they could do to moderate the damaging influences that disasters had on the communities with which they worked.

The CSOs were helped by the PRIP Trust in Bangladesh to document the communities’ memories. They employed an artist to go to the communities and with the local facilitators to ask the communities what were the important things that they remembered about the last disaster, which they would like to do something about. The artist heard their stories, drew illustrations, and came back a few times to make sure that the villagers were satisfied that the drawings reflected what they wanted drawn.

The village facilitators showed the pictures to community meetings and basically asked three questions based on the drawings: (which are written on the back of the drawings in Bangla)

  • Did this happen to you?
  • What could you do about this individually to make sure it did not happen next time?
  • What could you do as a community to make sure it did not happen next time?


In some cases (in the flood pictures) there were already pictures of things that villagers had done to lessen the effects of flood (extra extension pipes for hand pumps, floating seed beds for cultivation of seedlings before the flood receded, making portable earth stoves)

The drawings are based on the particular physical, economic and social features of Bangladesh. The basic idea could, however, be tried anywhere:

1. With a community known to you, introduce an artist and ask him to record villagers memories of the worst experiences of the last disaster

2. Make sure that the artist records what the villagers want him to record and allow them discretion to correct his impressions

3. Show the pictures in a village meeting context (depending on the culture – the whole village, men and women separately etc) and ask for their comments (which are usually easily stimulated by the pictures)

4. Try to think through with the villagers what preventative work could be done to make sure that the damage was lessened the next time.


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