BD now role model in disaster management: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said Bangladesh is now a role model in disaster management along with development in the world as she addressed a function on International Day for Disaster Reduction, reports BSS.

“Bangladesh became a role model not only in development but also in disaster management in the world”, she told the function at Bangabandhu International Conference Center here. Mentioning government’s different successes in disaster management, the premier said “Our government has achieved a great success in reducing risk and losses of lives and properties caused by cyclone, flood, drought and earthquake which earned international community’s acclamation.”

The prime minister said in July last Bangladesh hosted Dhaka meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation, where the former Secretary General of UN declared of establishing a “Global Centre for Adaptation-Dhaka Office” as a symbol of Bangladesh’s outstanding performance to this end.

Sheikh Hasina said the people of Bangladesh will have to live facing various natural disasters due to its geographical location, adding “So, Bangladesh will always have to be ready to face any kind of man-made or natural disasters”. The prime minister also directed concerned authorities to take necessary steps to avoid losses of lives and properties caused by natural disasters.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Disaster Management and Relief Ministry AB Tajul Islam and Senior Secretary of the Ministry Md Shah Kamal, among others, spoke on the occasion. Two disaster resilient house owners expressed their gratitude to the prime minister for making them such abode. The government has built such 11604 houses for disaster victims.

The premier distributed Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) Award among three out of 82 best volunteers for their outstanding contributions to disaster management. Earlier, a video documentary was screened describing the activities of the ministry in disaster management The prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the pioneer in disaster risk reduction programmes in the country, adding Bangabandhu had taken various initiatives like building 172 ‘Mujib Kellas’ to protect the lives and properties from devastating cyclone.

“With the kind cooperation of the then League of Red Cross, Bangabandhu had undertaken the Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) in 1972,” she said. The premier said that currently, the CPP has about 56000 trained volunteers. In addition, “there are 24-lac Ansar-VDP, 17-lac scouts, 4-lac BNCC and 4-lac Girls Guides members ready to be engaged in humanitarian response at any time,” she added.

“Our Government is constructing 378 more Mujib Kellas. Apart from this, 3,868 multi-purpose cyclone shelters have been built across the coastal districts and 1,650 more shelters will be constructed gradually”, she said. The prime minister said her government, however, always responded very fast whenever it received forecast of any disaster, engaging in every human and material support to reduce the loss of lives and property unlike the previous regimes.

Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League President, said apart from all concerned government offices, the ruling party activists also worked sincerely to reach food, medicine and other relief materials to the affected people during disasters. She recalled that the then BNP government took no steps while the deadly 1991 cyclone hit the south-eastern coastlines saying ‘even they didn’t care of information about the disaster’.

“We adopted Standing Orders on Disasters (SoD) after assuming office in 1996 to let people know what to be done if any disaster strikes. We then revised the orders in 2010 after coming to power for the second time in 2009,” the premier said. Referring to Disaster Management Act-2012 enacted by her government, she said “Under the auspices of this act, we formed the Department of Disaster Management, which is playing an important role in risk reduction and management activities during natural and human error caused disasters”.

Keeping in mind the sufferings of the internally displaced people caused by natural disasters, “we have formulated a strategic paper in 2015 and also have undertaken national resilience plan, which has highly bearing on the Sendai Framework and the SDGs,” she continued.

The premier said National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) was established in 2015 as a Humanitarian Staging Area is also being built for large scale disaster management. “In the meantime, we started modernization and expansion works of the Saidpur Airport, so it could be a regional hub of emergency services even for the neighboring countries such as India, Nepal and Bhutan,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is also extending regional cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the Asia and Pacific region through Regional Consultative Group (RCG) mechanism.

Referring to different initiatives for tree plantation in large, the prime minister said hundreds of thousands of trees are being planted every year by the initiatives of her government and her party. Awami League’s associate body Krishok League is also playing a big role in this regard, she added.

“We have taken a project on providing 5,00,000 household grain stores (Silos) to the families as we have already given silos to 3,28,000 families. Besides, under the cooperation of World Bank, we are constructing 8 silo complexes in 8 districts with a total of 5,00,000 metric ton storage capacity” she stated.

Mentioning that Bangladesh has created a dedicated Climate Change Trust Fund to achieve climate resilience, the prime minister said her government has taken steps for river management specially through dredging for maintaining navigability of rivers. Besides, the government has allocated 100 crore taka in the current budget to build houses for the people affected by the river erosions, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has designed project titled ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’ for combating climate change and ensuring safe life for the future generations. “Our scientists and farmers are inventing drought, saline and water tolerant paddy to ensure food security,” the premier also said.