Published:  12:19 AM, 13 March 2019

Preparing every citizen to mitigate disaster impacts

In Bangladesh 10 March is observed as National Disaster Preparedness Day to aware and prepare mass people to lessen natural and man-made disaster impacts. As per Climate Risk Index of German Watch during 2000-2011, nearly 70 million people of Bangladesh were affected by erratic climate disaster costing BDT 50,000 crore or $ 6 billion. This means due to climate disasters, Bangladesh losses 4000 crore or 500 million a year. In fact, owing to climate disaster, nation's GDP is negatively affected on average by 1.8 percent.

In general, Bangladesh contributes little to climate change, but it is one of the worst-affected countries by the impacts of global climate change due to its geographical location, which is highly prone to natural disasters such as cyclone, flood, landslide and earthquake. The Global Climate Risk Index 2017 published by GERMANWATCH says, from 1998 to 2017, over 0.526 million people died as a direct result of more than 11,500 extreme weather events.

Whatever, disaster risk reduction is an indispensable precondition of sustainable economic development. Nature is a setting of - oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, wetlands, land, forest, energy, air, hill, plants, animals and human being. In terms of development insurgency and neo-liberalism, sometimes water conflict is created among diverse nations.

National disaster preparedness day 2019 clarifies the human mobility-displacement, migration and planned relocation-in the context of both sudden-onset disasters like tropical cyclones, tidal bore, tsunami, earthquake, landslide and volcanic eruption, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also explores slow-onset events and processes like sea level rise, river erosion, salinity, flood, droughts, many of which is inter-related and are results of environmental degradation due to climate change.

In Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) is the first ever national climate fund established by least developed country. It takes various projects through climatic budget to help coastal and vulnerable communities.

In addition, there are Bangladesh climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) managed by Ministry of Environment and Forest. Some relevant policy papers and legal documents also address climate change-induced disasters - Standing Orders on Disasters 2010, National Disaster Management Plan (2011-20150, Disaster Management Act(20120, Bangladesh Climate Expenditure and Industrial Review(2012) and Climate Fiscal Framework( 2014). In India, there are National Environmental Policy (2006), National Forest Policy(1998), Environmental Protection Act (1986), National Wildlife Action Plan (1973) etc. Indian state policy (Article 48) mentions - the state shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

In addition, Article-51 clarifies that; it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. The catchment areas of these three mighty rivers are The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin is a transboundary river basin with a total area of just over 1.7 million km, distributed between India (64 percent), China (18 percent), Nepal (9 percent), Bangladesh (7 percent) and Bhutan (2 percent).

As Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate vulnerability, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been taken actions to live with climate change. She adopted "Climate Change Strategies & Action Plan" as early as 2009. She also involved communities and created 6 thousands well trained volunteers and erected nearly 3,800 cyclone Shelters. Our country erected embankments to nearly 70-80 percent of coastal areas and arrange irrigation facility in 80 percent of its cultivable areas.

If we consider the sustainable development strategies, there are 17 goals and 169 targets. Among others, disaster management is the key component. Though disaster preparedness, every people of Bangladesh take the benefits environmentally sustainable communities. We are advancing towards national resilience guided by our vision 2021 and 2041 to contribute to global commitments and targets. Disaster awareness among the mass people of Bangladesh is very important in facing damage of greater magnitude from any natural and man-made calamity.

The writer is an environmental
analyst and associate member, Bangladesh Economic Association

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