PM Hasina for stronger global coop to mitigate water-related disasters

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina
File photo

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday stressed the need for creating stronger and inclusive international cooperation to mitigate water-related disasters for a resilient and sustainable post covid-19 world.

“Growing scarcity of clean drinking water, outbreak of diseases like cholera, typhoid etc. reminds us of crucial need of water for peace and development. To mitigate the water-related disasters, we have a shared responsibility to create stronger and inclusive international cooperation,” she said.

In a recorded speech aired in the 5th United Nations Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters held virtually, the prime minister reminded the international community that the world is confronting “the gravest global health crisis of our times” due to the Covid-19 pandemic that caused enormous economic and social disruption and thus slowed down the progress for sustainable development.

The High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP), which was established to assist the international community, governments and stakeholders in mobilising political will and resources to solve the water-related disasters, organised the session.

This year’s session was held under the title of “Building Back Better towards More Resilient and Sustainable Post-Covid-19 World” with Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Tajikistan, High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) and National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) of Japan as co-hosts.

In her address, the Prime Minister also put forth five points for consideration by the international community to address the water-related disasters.

She, in her first and second proposals, said the world needs to take comprehensive, result-oriented, focused and adaptive global approach for water security and importantly to raise political awareness alongside sharing good practices, knowledge, and experiences.

The prime minister also said there should be synergies on water management, and water policies and use among the nations of upper and lower basins and the world should focus on implementation of the Sendai Framework, the SDGs, and the Paris Agreement while placing her third and fourth proposals.

And finally, she said, “We need to mobilise financial resources for the vulnerable countries to ensure their adequate access to water.”

“As the current Chair of the 48-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum, Bangladesh’s key focus is on upholding the interests of the climate vulnerable countries and promote locally-led adaptation solutions,” the Prime Minister added.

She continued: “We are working to transform from climate vulnerability to climate resilience to climate prosperity.”

Giving a brief description of Bangladesh’s water related disasters, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is the lower-most riparian country in South Asia, standing at the confluence of three mighty rivers the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna.

At present, Bangladesh faces two-prong water-related problems – surplus and shortage of water, she said, adding that during monsoon 90 per cent water enters into Bangladesh from catchments beyond its border inundating localities while during dry season, a drought-like situation prevails across the country.

The Prime Minister said that scarcity of safe drinking water is an emerging problem in the coastal areas due to salinity intrusion.

About recent cyclones that caused heavy damages across the county, she said that Bangladesh faced several climatic disasters, including the Super Cyclone “Amphan” and monsoon flood that affected about 6 million people during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Similarly, the cyclone “Yaas” inundated 27 sub-districts last month causing damage to crops, fisheries and infrastructures, she continued.

Bangladesh is also one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world while floods, tidal surges, cyclones, and river erosion are now more frequent, she said.

To address these challenges, she said that Bangladesh has been taking disaster risk reduction to the next level.

Under the purview of the Disaster Management Act 2012, Standing Orders on Disaster 2019 have been included for ensuring “whole of society approach”, she said.

Furthermore, Bangladesh has revised the National Plan for Disaster Management for the period of 2021 to 2025 in alignment with the Sendai Framework, she added.

She went on saying that community based disaster preparedness model has been developed to ensure inclusive bottom-up approach to disaster management system in the country.

The Prime Minister said they have also formulated Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 with the vision of “achieving safe, climate resilient and prosperous Bangladesh delta” alongside preparing “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan” for implementing renewable energy and climate resilience projects.

She further said that her government has taken initiatives to build 885,000 disaster resilient houses for the landless, homeless and displaced families across the country.

To this end, she said, “We have built 16.4 kilometres of sea dykes, 12,000 cyclone shelters and 200,000 thousand hectares of coastal plantation. Strengthening and increasing height of around 5,700 kilometres of coastal embankment is going on.”

The government is in the process to construct super dykes along the coastal belt to protect millions people from the impact of sea level rise, salinity and tidal surges, she said.

Mentioning that they are giving utmost importance to greenbelt development, she said that they are planting thirty million saplings this year on the occasion of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.