Proper use of weather and climate information will help to reduce disaster vulnerability in the Rohingya camp in southeast Bangladesh, experts said at a workshop on Sunday.
Some 16 experts in climate science, including research institutes and representatives from humanitarian organizations, took part in the workshop, titled “Use of weather and climate information to inform disaster preparedness activities in Rohingya camps.”
The aim of the workshop was to co-develop actions and best practices for using climate and weather information to decrease the risk of disaster impact in the refugee camps.
The workshop, jointly organized by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), comes at an apt time before the monsoon as the Rohingya refugee camps are extremely vulnerable to landslides and other natural disasters.
Geographically, this part of the country in the southeast is vulnerable to cyclones, and after unplanned shelters began to mushroom all over the area, the Rohingya camps are also vulnerable to waterlogging from the monsoon rains.
According to speakers at the workshop, the area does not have any connection with rivers so there is a chance of water logging in the camps during the monsoon.
Workshop participants emphasized the impact based assessment of vulnerability. Their findings from field visits reveal that the soil in the camps has been damaged, which is an added vulnerability during the monsoon season.
Director of ICCCAD Dr Saleemul Huq said that as long as the Rohingyas are in Bangladesh, we must plan and prepare to our best abilities for disaster management in the refugee camps.
Andrew Kruczkiewicz, a climate researcher at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, spoke on how the type of disaster is very important in figuring out an evacuation plan.
“Problem in response is linking data, while making a specific response is a big challenge as well. We need to understand what kind of disaster may happen and what action can be taken for that disaster response,” he said.
Prof Towhida Rashid, chairperson of Dhaka University meteorology department spoke on the imminent danger from landslides during the up-coming monsoon season. “The Rohingya camp is situated in an uncovered hilly area which increases the chances of soil erosion which turns into small landslides. Temporary shelters are not able to handle small landslides and we need to cater the response to the most vulnerable as moderate slopes in the area will be heavy damaged,” she said.
The outcome of the workshop is a high attendance of climate service producers. Experts co-developed a system to potentially link climate information to preparedness actions, linking specific rainfall and extreme events to actions that will build resilience in the camps. They created a local collaborative effort group to coordinate feedback from community level processes to improve climate services development, while they also discussed how NASA satellite data and IRI expertise can be used to complement local expertise for preparedness.