Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Setting Bangladesh on a new path towards disaster resilience

Pauline Tamesis in the Dhaka Tribune: Bangladesh’s ability to manage disasters has improved dramatically since the devastating impacts of the cyclone at Bhola in 1970 which saw more than half a million people perish in a single night, or even cyclone Gorky which killed 138,000 people in 1991.

Since the early nineties, when an onslaught of extreme weather events prompted the country to invest heavily in cyclone shelters and flood embankments, it has emerged as an innovator and global leader in disaster management. Between 1980 and 2007 when the most recent devastating cyclone made landfall, Bangladesh experienced more than 200 extreme weather events. Those early investments played a critical role in drastically reducing death tolls and damages from these floods, cyclones and droughts.

This reduction happened because Bangladesh replaced its reactive approach to disasters, which focused on relief but allowed long term vulnerabilities to persist, with a proactive stance that sought to reduce risks posed by extreme weather events.

What emerged, through a long partnership between the government and the development partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been recognised as a gold-standard disaster management apparatus and a paradigm shift in policy towards coordinated preparedness.

From research and development on drought and flood-resistant crops to early warning systems that have drastically reduced the human costs of disasters, the world has a lot to learn from the Bangladeshi experience. The government of Bangladesh has shared important lessons on disaster management with countries as diverse as Sri Lanka and the Gambia...

An aerial view of the damage from Cyclone Sidr in 2007, US Marine Corps photo

No comments: