Bangladesh has once again proved that it knows how to deal with national calamities like cyclone, flood and draught. Henceforth the world would look at Bangladesh to learn the art of management of natural calamities. If we recall the days during Pakistan when lakhs of people had to die of tidal surge due to unpreparedness, lack of cyclone shelters and experience of the government to deal with. The situation was so horrible that Bangladesh’s leader like Maolana Bhasani and Sheikh Mujib had to think to be out of the framework of Pakistan then following the devastating cyclone.
What is the reality today? The humanity and natural calamities conscious Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her pro-people government has demonstrated to the whole world how should a government behave in times of natural calamity. The attention of the government was there in the Bay of Bengal when depression was in the offing. The met office continuously provided weather forecast to the people. It informed what exactly the nature of depression is, where it had been located, what the courses of the cyclone were, what exactly was the route of its advancement and what exactly was the direction of the cyclone. The people in general and especially the people of 19 districts who lived in the coastal areas got to know all about it. Over 4milion people of these areas had been evacuated to 4071 cyclone shelters. It was not an easy task. But each DC and UNO of the respective district and upzila did play their role in a discipline manner and accommodated the people of the affected areas in the cyclone shelters. The volunteers were engaged week before the cyclone hit. The Navy deployed 32 ships in Chittagong, Khulna and Mongla for emergency rescue operations. The National Disaster Coordination Committee continuously monitored the situation at the instruction of the Prime Minister. All these were done in a disciplined and magnificent way. In fact all news about the devastating cyclone was circulated among the affected people and the rapid way of bringing them to the shelter had helped avoid the mass scale death. This time the cyclone Fani took the life of 13 people and damaged huge standing crops. But, the damage to life could have been much more if precautionary measures were not taken so quickly.
If we look at the preparedness, almost all ministries including relief and disaster management, home, agriculture, health repeatedly sat for taking coordinated initiatives to save the loss of life from the possible damage caused by the cyclone Fani. The way the local administration, mayors, Member of Parliaments, party leaders had been motivating the people to take shelter at the cyclone shelter are really praiseworthy. And because of their efforts this time more people moved to the cyclone shelter than any time before. In some areas the standing crops have been fully damaged, but the loss of life and cattle have been averted. Thanks to media including print and electronic for their relentless efforts to publish and telecast news to aware people.
The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who was in London for treatment of her eyes continuously monitored the situation and asked all concerned to remain vigilant and acted sharply to minimize the sufferings of the affected people.
If one did hear the narrative of UNO and got to know what they did to face cyclone one must say that they are really the servant of the people with all dedication. 40,000 volunteers did really participated in the recovery process including police, army. It was probably the first time in independent Bangladesh that the entire nation did engage itself to deal with the national crisis giving a message to the affected people and they are not alone to suffer the misery but the entire nation is with them.
Yes we have got the benefit of the honest desire and appropriate steps. The loss is almost negligible. The government has taken adequate measures to manage the aftermath of the cyclone. The recent disaster management has taught us lessons that if there is commitment to the people and sincerity of purpose we shall be able to face any crisis in future. We have behaved like an independent nation with utmost dedication for the common people. This sort of spirit is necessary in all spheres of the society during national disaster. Unity, determination and sincerity are required to meet the national crisis.
If we as a nation engage ourselves unitedly to nation building activities, there is no reason why we should not attain the desired goal. We are a nation that the world has to take into cognizance. We play a vital role in combating terrorism and in UN Peace Keeping mission to maintain peace in trouble-prone areas of the world. We know how to sacrifice for the cause of humanity. Bangladesh not only manages the disaster in its own country, but also look forward to help those who are prone to natural calamities.
Let there be a disaster management institute in the country to deal with the natural calamities that we are to face every year. Since we have expertise to manage the natural calamities we would be able to help other countries of the world in disaster management. Climate change and natural disaster are not the issues of Bangladesh alone. It’s a global problem. All other countries who are prone to disaster must come and join Bangladesh to chalk out coordinated plan to address the problems relating to climate change and natural calamities. Thank to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is over cautious about the issue.
The causes of climate change today are mainly due to excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by the industrially advanced countries of the world. So it is manmade in many cases. The world is concern about it. There is worldwide worry to reduce the production of carbon dioxide and thereby to reduce the rise of temperature causing the rise of sea bed. The Paris conference on climate change did really painted out the real problems of natural disaster. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been talking about the tasks to be done globally.
She (PM) has taken specific steps in Bangladesh as the country may face 20 percent loss of land due to rise of sea level. If this really happens that would be a great disaster for our people. Our Prime Minister has been repeatedly requesting the global leaders to come forward to help Bangladesh to mitigate the crisis due to adverse impact of climate change. Bangladesh itself did a lot. But it’s not possible for the country alone to solve such manmade crisis. The industrially developed countries which are responsible for emitting carbon dioxide must come forward to take up coordinated approach to save the countries like Bangladesh from the imminent disaster.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist