Responding to the Rohingya emergency in Bangladesh

Watch: our Rohingya crisis response

When I heard about safe water treatment from the radio program and practiced that, I found that my children stopped getting sick.Female Shishur Hashi Listener Group member, January 2018.

More than 900,000 Rohingya people have fled their homes in Myanmar and are seeking refuge in Bangladesh – making it one of the most concentrated humanitarian emergencies in decades.

In a situation like this, access to information is as important as food, water and shelter – it saves lives. Equally important is that the voices of affected people – their needs, views and complaints – are heard, understood and acted on by agencies providing relief.

We are supporting two broadcasters to produce daily radio programmes for Rohingya people and host communities living in Bangladesh's Cox’s Bazar. The programmes give people a voice and essential information, helping them to stay safe and protect their health and the health of their families. 

  • Beggunor Lai (For Everyone) broadcasts locally on Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh’s state broadcaster and Radio Naf, a community radio station. 
  • With our support, Radio Naf also produces Shishur Hashi (Children’s Smile) a programme aimed at children, who make up more than half of those displaced from Myanmar. 
  • A monthly programme, Betar Sanglap (Radio Dialogue), offers a space for local Bangladeshi communities affected by the emergency to ask questions and share their views with local officials and aid providers. 

For Everyone

All the programmes are broadcast in the local dialect, which is understood by both Rohingya people and host communities. And as the emergency evolves, we’re developing ways to help keep people informed and give their views – including:

  • Weekly podcasts of the radio shows, animations, flash cards and short videos are available at face-to-face information hubs in the camps
  • Training staff and installing audio-visual technology at several information hubs enabling vital information to be made more accessible to people with low levels of literacy.
  • Training volunteers to organise listening groups - bringing people together to hear highlights from the radio programmes – and to see our growing library of audio-visual content on topics ranging from hygiene and vaccinations to cyclone preparedness and community safety.

What matters?

Many agencies are working to communicate with, and gather feedback from, affected people in Cox’s Bazar. We’re actively working with Internews and Translators Without Borders to find out what Rohingya people – and the host communities - really need. Watch here.

We’re sharing the feedback we gather with all the agencies involved, and our expertise and technical supports feeds into a regular bulletin called “What Matters?” helping to improve the quality and effectiveness of the response. In March 2019, we also launched our Foresight Service which provides humanitarian agencies with community feedback on response priorities over the next six months.

Our experience of working on humanitarian communication programmes in Bangladesh – including our long-standing leadership of the national Communication with Communities Working Group and our previous responses to smaller-scale emergencies in the country – means that we are able to provide high-quality, expert advice for the UN, NGOs and government as the Rohingya emergency continues to develop.

Tackling violence against women and girls

We’re also creating a pilot radio drama for the Rohingya community working in partnership with Norwegian Church Aid, with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

To inform the drama, we conducted a formative qualitative research study seeking to understand more about Rohingya men and womens’ understanding and attitudes towards child marriage, intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse. 

In conception phase, the 20-episode radio drama aims to increase knowledge about gender-based violence and raise awareness of support services available for women and girls in the camps. It will be broadcast through a local radio partner in Bangladesh and reach our audience further through our existing and growing network of 500+ listening groups in March 2019.

Our findings will be used to inform how to address these issues within the radio drama during its development, and are relevant to other organisations working with the Rohingya refugee community.



Project information
Project name Production, Capacity Building and Technical Support for Emergency Radio Programming & Broadcast for Rohingya Refugee Influx in Bangladesh

Common Service for Community Engagement and Accountability

Information centres for Rohingya influx response

20-episode Radio drama for Rohingya women and girls



Action Against Hunger, Global Affairs Canada

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in partnership with Norwegian Church Aid) - since August 2018

Dates October 2017-present
Themes Humanitarian 

Lifeline radio programmes BeggunorLai (For Everyone) and Shishur Hashi (Children’s Smile)

  • Digital, audio-visual content for offline viewing and listening
  • Knowledge products summarising community feedback
  • Training programmes for humanitarian staff and volunteers

20 episode radio drama tackling violence against women

Broadcast partners Bangladesh Betar (state broadcaster) Radio Naf (community radio)