Bangladesh’s coastal fishermen communities will be able evade dangers in the sea and save their lives and livelihoods by using digital telecom technologies from now on.
Airtel Bangladesh recently signed a memorandum of understanding with CARE Bangladesh, Oxfam, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) and Centre for Global Change (CGC) to provide technology to ensure their safety.
Chris Tobit, chief executive officer of Airtel; Nick Southern, country director of CARE; Gareth Price-Jones, country director of Oxfam, and Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, executive director of CGC, signed the deal at Airtel’s head office in Dhaka.
The primary objective of the joint effort is to save lives of drowning fishermen and restore their livelihoods, Airtel said in a statement yesterday.
Fishermen were severely affected in recent years due to frequent occurrence of rough sea events and an advance warning in a foreseeable timeframe viz. next 48 hours could enable them to avoid being affected, drowned and at risk of losing lives.
Airtel will use its newly constructed towers to disseminate voice warnings through digital telecom devices stored in each fishing boat or vessel.
Tobit said: “This is a great opportunity for us to help the fishermen community to lead a safe livelihood and this will in turn help the nation.”
CGC, in association with CSRL, will study genesis of each rough sea event and generate warning related information with a target of providing early warnings about 48 hours ahead of the occurrence of each event.
Information generated by CGC will be passed on to Airtel lab for direct dissemination at a frequency as preferred by the fishermen communities.
“While Bangladesh is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change; this initiative will be a big milestone for Bangladesh to adapt with the climatic vulnerabilities,” Southern said.
Price-Jones said: “The potentials of a digital Bangladesh must be opened for the people who are suffering from poverty and vulnerability. This is the only way to make development inclusive and sustainable.”
In case of an unfortunate capsize of a boat caught in a rough sea event, despite issuance of early warning, Airtel will immediately track the position of the drowned boat or vessel and forward the message to concerned government agencies like Bangladesh Navy or Bangladesh Coast Guard.
Advanced telecom technology has high potential to save lives and to enhance livelihood opportunities of poor people of Bangladesh and other least developed countries, Ahmed believes.