BRAC hosts roundtable discussion on disaster preparedness

The speakers at a roundtable recommended promoting early warning systems and disseminating forecasts to all individuals at the local level to confront disasters.

The roundtable discussion titled "Fighting in Disaster Preparedness, Building a Smart Sonar Bangla ", was held today, Monday, at the BRAC Centre conference room, Mohakhali in the capital.

On the observance of National Disaster Preparedness Day 2024, the BRAC Disaster Risk Management Programme (DRMP) organised the roundtable discussion on the overall progress, challenges, and future actions of Bangladesh in disaster preparedness.

Kamrul Hasan, ndc, Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) attended the event as the chief guest and Md. Mizanur Rahman, Director General of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), was present as the special guest. 

The roundtable event was chaired by KAM Morshed, Senior Director of BRAC Advocacy, Innovation, and MEAL. Various stakeholders, including officials from relevant government agencies, experts, professionals, representatives from UN agencies, NGOs, educators, researchers, and journalists, attended the event.

 At the outset of the roundtable discussion, Dr. Md. Liakath Ali, Director of BRAC's Climate Change Programme (CCP), Urban Development Programme (UDP), and Disaster Risk Management Programme (DRMP), delivered the keynote presentation, focusing on the risks of disasters and climate change in Bangladesh. He highlighted the overall progress of Bangladesh in disaster preparedness, the ggovernment's success, existing challenges, and BRAC's initiatives to enhance community awareness and preparedness in disaster-prone areas through innovative solutions. Based on these topics, the speakers shared their important remarks and recommendations.

Alongside the government's efforts, various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have undertaken different initiatives in disaster management. Despite a significant reduction in the mortality rate due to disasters, the loss of lives and livelihoods remains substantial. To sustain the ongoing development momentum of the country and realise the vision of building a Smart Bangladesh, it is imperative to further strengthen disaster preparedness at all levels and mitigate the damages caused by climate change and increasing disasters. Speakers emphasised the need for concerted and coordinated efforts between the government and non-governmental sectors to achieve these goals.

Secretary Kamrul Hasan, ndc, stated, "To combat disasters, it is not solely the responsibility of the Government. We must focus on community preparedness and awareness."

Director General of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Md. Mizanur Rahman stated, "Early warning during any disaster is a fundamental right of citizens. While other rights may sustain them, the absence of advance warning in a disaster could cost lives. If life itself is lost, other rights become meaningless."

BRAC's Director, Dr. Md. Liakath Ali stated, "BRAC plays a crucial role in collaboration with the government and other organisations in addressing disasters. Our efforts extend up to the union level, and we are prepared to provide humanitarian assistance within 72 hours in the event of any calamity."

BRAC's Senior Director, KAM Morshed stated, "The 1970 Bhola Cyclone made it clear that the West Pakistanis did not care about our lives. That anger contributed to the 1971 liberation war. In the last 50 years, Bangladesh has made significant progress in disaster preparedness and management, resulting in no casualties due to cyclones. This achievement is remarkable for us." He emphasised the necessity for all government and non-governmental organisations to collaborate and work together to ensure disaster risk reduction and preparedness.

Several recommendations emerged from the experts participating in the discussion. Notable among these are:

  • Implementation of an auto shutdown system in electricity and gas supply to minimise earthquake damage.

  • Implementation of a mobile network sharing system to sustain communication during disasters.

  • Facilitating and expanding access to disaster forecasting information at the local level.

Aiming to reduce overall disaster risk and mitigate damages across the country, the National Disaster Preparedness Day 2024 was celebrated on 10 March 2024 by the ministry. The objective is to enhance the national disaster preparedness programme to be more comprehensive and dynamic, focusing on improving preparedness, capability, and awareness through the ministry's annual initiatives. In collaboration with the Government's efforts, BRAC has undertaken various nationwide initiatives to implement disaster management schemes.