The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in coordination with the MoheshkhaliUpazila administration and other governmental bodies conducted a “Safety at Sea” training for 200 boatmen based on the island of Moheshkhali, with the support from Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) on Friday.
The Cox’s Bazar – Moheshkhali sea route is one of the most important routes in this region, used frequently by development agencies and tourists alike. Similarly to Cox's Bazar’s mainland, the island of Moheshkhali is extremely prone to natural hazards such as cyclones. According to the District Administration, nearly a third
of the 300,000 people living on the island are at risk.
“Seeing as the Moheshkhali– Cox's Bazar Sea route is highly impacted by cyclones, we are grateful for this initiative of sensitizing our boatmen on sea safety,” declared Mr. AsheqUllahRafiq, Member of Parliament of Cox's Bazar-2 constituency. “IOM has been very active in Moheshkhali, continuously assisting host communities. We can only hope more will follow suit and address the urgent needs of this remote island.”
Since 2019, IOM has been working in the MoheshkhaliUpazila and its five unions on building the capacity of Upazila and union Disaster Management Committee (DMC) members, training close to 1,500 Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) volunteers on basic DRR skills and basic firefighting, and 150 host community volunteers on rescue training.
Mr. MdMahfuzur Rahman, Moheshkhali’sUpazilaNirbahi Officer (UNO) has applauded the initiative during the project’s inauguration on March 5. “IOM’s continuous support to the MoheshkhaliUpazila has not gone unnoticed. Through this assistance, our volunteers have benefited from several much-needed Disaster Risk Reduction capacity building activities and our community has received hygiene materials to support us in the fight against COVID-19 when we needed it the most.”
Along with the Upazila administration, the local Fire Service and Civil Defense, Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP), Bangladesh’s Internal Water Transportation Authority and Coast Guard also actively participated in the training.
“Several hundred boatmen are actively working on the Cox’s Bazar–Moheshkhali sea route, but they haven’t had access to any proper training on safety at sea so far. It is imperative for them to have access to this type of life-saving capacity building activity,” explained Patrick Charignon, IOM Cox’s Bazar Transition and Recovery Programme Coordinator. “We hope that this initiative will not only save lives but also have added value for the island’s tourism sector.”
The training was organized in two batches, for 100 participants each day. Members of the Upazila and Union DMC in Moheshkhali also participated in the training. After completing their respective module, IOM provided the boatmen with sea safety equipment.
As part of the training, the boatmen learned new concepts on different types of topics, ranging from DRR, basic firefighting, initial rescue, cyclone early warning system and behavior change in communication, to proper use of sea safety equipment (life jacket, life buoy, radium sticker, power bank and torch light).
“Today, I had the chance to learn things that I feel will be of great importance for my daily job,” said Rajan, one of the boatmen, after completing the training. “From now on, I am confident that I will be able to keep myself safe, but also the passengers I carry during my journeys at sea.”