3.4 Public Education to Reduce Lightning Injuries and Deaths in Bangladesh

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 11:00 AM
North 225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Munir Ahmed, TARA, Dhaka, Bangladesh; and A. K. M. S. Islam, M. A. Cooper, C. Gomes, and R. L. Holle

Recent reports have documented that hundreds of people are killed or injured from lightning in Bangladesh every year. The dominant season for lightning in Bangladesh is from March-May when northwestern storms occur and mainly paddy harvesters become lightning causalities as they work in open fields. A secondary lightning season in September-October is when many people are fishing in open areas as flood water starts to recede and fish become plentiful.

The initial lightning awareness program in 2003-4 was in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, funded by USAID South Asia Regional Initiatives/Energy Project. Since then, many awareness programs and limited training programs have been conducted by TARA Non-government Organisation and Jahangirnagar University in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. While several individuals showed interest and the media gave considerable attention, the scale of the programs was limited. Fortunately, in 2017 the nonprofit Bangladesh Association for Rural Advancement (BASA) became interested. In 2018, with technical support from the African Centers for Lightning and Electromagnetics Network, several awareness programs were presented.

Subsequently, BASA Lightning Awareness Center (BLAC) was formed and developed handouts, posters and banners that it distributed to its 70 branch offices and to others concerned about lightning safety. During the first peak lightning season, BLAC conducted a series of lightning safety education programs in schools, colleges and public gatherings. So far seven major programs have been conducted and shared safety information with about 345 direct participants. BLAC intends to continue in safety education throughout the year with special emphasis during the two primary lightning seasons. The initial program is planned for two years, with solicitation of donor funding, with the intent that this evolve into a continuous program taken over by the government of Bangladesh.

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