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Preparing people for peril

  • Published at 11:50 pm March 8th, 2019
Are we prepared for disaster? MEHEDI HASAN

Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters

National Disaster Preparedness Day, to be observed tomorrow, is to prepare the people to lessen the impact of both natural and man-made disasters. 

As per Climate Risk Index of German Watch, between 2000-2011, nearly 70 million people in Bangladesh were affected by erratic climate disasters, costing the Bangladesh economy Tk50,000 crore, or $6bn. 

This means that due to climate disasters, Bangladesh loses about Tk4,000cr or $500m annually. 

In fact, owing to climate disaster, Bangladesh’s GDP, on average, is negatively affected by 1.8%.

In general, Bangladesh contributes little to climate change, but it is one of the worst-affected countries due to its geographical location, which is highly prone to natural disasters. 

From 1998 to 2017, over 500,000 people died as a direct result of more than 11,500 extreme weather events.

National disaster preparedness day clarifies human mobility -- displacement, migration, and planned relocation -- in the context of sudden disasters like tropical cyclones, tidal bores, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. 

It also explores slow-onset events and processes like sea-level rise, river erosion, salinity, floods, and droughts, many of which are related and are results of environmental degradation due to climate change. 

As Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate vulnerability, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken actions to combat climate change. 

She adopted the “Climate Change Strategies and Action Plan” as early as 2009. She also involved communities and created 6,000 well-trained volunteers and constructed nearly 3,800 cyclone shelters. 

There has also been the building of embankments along nearly 70-80% of coastal areas, and arrangements have been made for irrigation facilities in 80% of its cultivable areas.

If we consider the sustainable development goals, and their strategies, there are 17 goals and 169 targets. 

Among others, disaster management is the key component. Through disaster preparedness, every person in Bangladesh will enjoy the benefits of living in environmentally sustainable communities. 

We are advancing towards greater national resilience, guided by our Vision 2021 and 2041 plans to contribute to global commitments and targets. Disaster awareness among the mass people of Bangladesh is a very important component in this journey. 

Shishir Reza is an Environmental Analyst and Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association.