UNDP and UNHCR install rain gauges in landslide-prone areas of the Rohingya refugee sites to provide real-time information during the monsoon season

Jun 27, 2018

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) installed state of the art rain gauges in three landslide-prone areas around the Rohingya refugee sites in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

While the whole of Bangladesh is highly prone to floods, Cox’s Bazar is also particularly vulnerable to flash floods and landslides, primarily during the monsoon season which began in early June and lasts until September. UNDP, UNHCR and GSB together with technical experts from NGI, have installed three rain gauges with solar panels and data collection mechanisms. When the rainfall values of precipitation exceeds  a pre-determined risk threshold, the rain gauge alert system sends SMS/text messages to 20 designated emergency response agencies who are located in and around the affected areas.

”By using a tool piloted locally by the Geological Survey of Bangladesh and working together, we want to make sure that the technology is locally appropriate and that the information generated by the gauges is fed back to national institutions for further analysis. Landslides are increasingly recognised as a threat to communities in this part of Bangladesh,” said Cathrine Tranberg Haarsaker, UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist

”A better understanding of risk factors and triggers is crucial to reduce disaster risk and prevent loss of life,”  added Haarsaker

As part of this UNHCR-funded and UNDP-managed project the automatic rain-gauges were installed at Chakmarkul settlement, Kutupalong Camp 16 and Kutupalong Registered Camp. The three rain gauges were installed along with maintenance to the two pre-existing rain gauges in Teknaf and Cox’s Bazar installed by GSB and NGI in the past. 

”The climate in Cox’s Bazar creates conditions where rainfall is heavily localized. By installing these new rain gauges in the Rohingya camps, we are improving access to real-time information about weather conditions which can rapidly exacerbate landslide risk in the camps. This will enable government and humanitarian decision-makers’ to take early action and deploy camp-based volunteers, humanitarian response teams and critical equipment,” explained Haarsaker

"The monsoon is a moving target which demands maximum preparedness and operational agility," said Kevin J. Allen, UNHCR Head of Operations in Cox's Bazar. "These rain gauges provide us with a tool to better determine the triggers for emergency response in the field."

The three new rain gauges together with the two previously installed rain gauges in Cox's Bazar and Teknaf, allow the Government of Bangladesh and UN agencies supporting the Rohingya refugees and the host communities, to have a better record of rainfall throughout the monsoon-affected areas by providing improved data for both the analysis of, and planning for, heavy rainfall and potential landslides.

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