In this development of Disaster Risk Reduction discourse in Bangladesh, climate services are becoming a new discipline to produce, translate, transfer and use climate information across many sectors. Bangladesh has evolved into an excellent example of being resilient to disaster, but this journey was not comfortable; it went through the following phases.
The first phase was active until 1991; back then, it was the Bengal Famine Act that was the directive to manage any disaster. Relief and rehabilitation (emergency response) were at the centre of disaster management.
The 1988 flood and the cyclone in 1991, took a devastating toll on the country, creating a need for a new paradigm of disaster management. Disaster Management Bureau and the draft of Standing Order on Disaster (SOD) came into existence in 1993 as a consequence of that disaster. The priority from relief and rehabilitation got new attention towards more awareness and preparedness to reduce the loss incurred from disaster. This phase lasted until the adoption of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
In January 2005, 168 governments adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) for the period 2005-2015 in order to make the world safer from all-natural hazards. It had the strategic areas of reducing risks, being prepared and ready to act. Bangladesh prepared her first National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA 2005), where disasters have been addressed in strategy 4, 5, 6, 15. Preparedness and awareness-raising among climate-vulnerable areas got priority to tackle enhanced disasters. It was for the first time that climate change was considered in disaster management for Bangladesh.
Moreover, exploring insurance and other emergency preparedness options to reduce the risks in advance drew attention to this policy document. Besides, the Disaster Management Act was enacted in 2012 to make coordinated, object-oriented and strengthened activities by government, non-government and private sectors to fight all types of disaster. Here Bangladesh was ahead of HFA by addressing risk caused by natural as well as human-made hazards.
On 18 March 2015 UN member states adopted Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction for the period 2015-2030. This framework aims to guide the multi-hazard management of disaster risk in development at all levels and within and across all sectors. Whereas, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 17) was adopted in September 2015 at the UN Summit. These two international guidelines are entwined into the national policies in such a manner that previous discourse of disaster management has transitioned from reactive to a proactive approach.
Climate services will help individuals and organizations in society to make the improved ex-ante decision, through better anticipation and building rapid response infrastructure. Bringing climate information and its uses in every sector would capacitate us to understand the present and future risks of a disaster well to act proactively with available resources. Recently, FOREWARN Bangladesh is trying to build the expertise groups from different stakeholders to lead this anticipation window providing adequate analysis to prevent new risk while reducing existing risks through access to climate services.
Ashraful Haque is a system analyst. He has been working as Senior Research Officer at ICCCAD. Also, he is working as Coordinator of FOREWARN Bangladesh.