By Arif Abdullah Khan, Programme Specialist - Disaster and Resilience, UNDP

©UNDP Bangladesh

From a country that was struggling to bring relief to millions affected by flood and other natural disasters just a couple of decades ago, Bangladesh has successfully shifted its efforts to proactive risk reduction. The previous method of reactive relief efforts did little to minimise the loss of lives and livelihoods. Today, the nation is prepared beforehand for disasters and has plans in place to protect its people.

©UNDP Bangladesh/ICBA-AR Programmes

However, due to the country’s vulnerability to climate change, there remains a risk of increased damage due to disasters. Since its independence, the country has faced over 300 disasters, which caused estimated economic damage of over 210 billion dollars.

The table below summarises the loss of lives and economic damage caused by these natural disasters -- showing a clear reduction in the loss since the last decade. 

Table 01: An extracted summary of total deaths, affected people and damages caused by major disasters Bangladesh (Source: EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium[1])

 

Year

Disaster Subtype

Total Deaths

Total Affected ('000)

Total Damages (million US$)

1970

Tropical cyclone

300000

3648

86.4

1974

Flood

28700

38000

579.2

1977

Storm

600

10

50

1980

Flood

655

10000

150

1985

Tropical cyclone

15000

1810

50

1987

Riverine flood

2055

29700

330

1988

Flood

2379

45000

2137

1991

Cyclone ‘Gorky’ (02B)

138866

15438.85

1780

1991

Riverine flood

65

200

150

1994

Tropical cyclone

130

653.6

125

1997

Flash flood

79

900.03

229

1998

Riverine flood

1050

15000.05

4300

2000

Flash flood

31

2467.14

500

2004

Riverine flood

730

36000

2200

2007

Riverine flood

1110

13771.38

100

2007

Cyclone ‘Sidr’

4234

8978.54

2300

2009

Cyclone ‘Aila’

190

3935.34

270

2014

Riverine flood

59

2800.45

160

2016

Cyclone Roanu

28

1203.56

600

2016

Riverine flood

106

1900

150

2017

Riverine flood

 

86.03

128

2019

Tropical cyclone 'Bulbul'

40

251.51

5.8

2020

Cyclone 'Amphan'

26

1100

1500

 

[1] EM-DAT. 2020. EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium, Accessed 10 October 2020, www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).

©UNDP Bangladesh/Emdadul Islam Bitu

The government has taken a proactive approach to address these challenges by formulating Disaster Management Act (2012), Disaster Management Policy (2015) and Standing Orders on Disaster (2019). The government also formulates the National Plan for Disaster management every five years.

The country’s achievements in Millennium Development Goals and Hyogo Framework of Action have been commendable, and its development agenda is highly focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Paris Climate Agreement and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR).

Bangladesh is well on its way to becoming a middle-income country by 2031 and achieving the SDGs by 2030. However, natural disaster-induced loss and damage pose a considerable threat to the country’s economic growth and social development. Despite Bangladesh’s success in disaster preparedness and humanitarian response, there remains some negligence in comprehensive disaster recovery, which gets inadequate emphasis in policy and institutional framework. Geophysical dynamics and climatic influences have not been incorporated in recovery and these remain the major reasons behind recurrent disasters and repeated losses.

©UNDP Bangladesh

Post-disaster recovery is a complex task -- it exhibits multiple and diverse patterns of change, has no fixed endpoint, and no single agency or sector can be responsible for it. Recovery is often designed to return communities to their previous state, which can end up ignoring the need for future disaster preparedness. The newest insights suggest improved strategies to Build Back Better and Build Back Green, instead of simply returning to the old way of living.

Bangladesh still has a long way to go in terms of comprehensive, inclusive recovery, as a fragmented sectoral approach is followed, resulting in gaps in coverage and delay in recovery. As a long term partner of the government, United Nations Development Programme is committed to addressing the challenges in disaster risk reduction and recovery in Bangladesh. UNDP is developing a simple methodology and coordinated approach for comprehensive recovery, with specific strategies to ensure that no one gets left behind and natural ecosystems remain unharmed. National Resilience Programme (NRP) has undertaken the initiative to develop a robust, inclusive and holistic recovery plan for cyclone Amphan and recent floods in 30 districts, which can also act as a model for future recovery.

 

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