State minister for disaster management and relief Md Enamur Rahman and others at a roundtable in Dhaka on Thursday.Courtesy

The government has taken initiatives to carry out capital dredging in rivers and to build 1,000 more Mujib Kellas (specially designed multi-purpose cyclone centres) and other shelters in an effort to combat flood in the country.

State minister for disaster management and relief Md Enamur Rahman came up with the disclosure while addressing a roundtable discussion on Thursday, said a press release.

The roundtable discussion on “Flash floods in the northeast region: Lessons, actions and rehabilitation” was organised by BRAC and daily Kaler Kantha in the capital on Thursday.

State minister Enamur Rahman attended the event as chief guest while captain AB Tajul Islam (retd), chairman of standing committee for the ministry of disaster management and relief; Sajedul Hasan, director of disaster risk management programme at BRAC; Udoy Raihan, sub-divisional engineer at flood forecasting and warning center, were speakers at the roundtable.

District and upazila administration officials of northeastern districts and representatives from local government institutions and local communities were also present at the discussion.

Sajedul Hasan emphasised appropriate and continued training of volunteers associated with the government’s disaster preparedness programme. He stated that such training programmes will enhance the volunteers’ capacity to assist the rescue workers in their work.

Speaking on how to strengthen flood preparedness and rehabilitation work at different levels through implementing the lessons learned, the BRAC director further added that the flood forecasting centre always gives warnings about the level of water in the main rivers. If similar forecasts are made at the community level, the local people can plan to move to the flood shelters.

Captain AB Tajul Islam said community people must be actively involved in the disaster management efforts. Everyone should fulfill their duty from their own position. Technological improvements in disaster management have to be utilised at the community level. Such terrible floods can only be managed when things are done methodically.

A number of recommendations came from the roundtable discussion.

Mahbubul Alam from BRAC’s gender, justice and diversity programme said gender lens has to be integral in designing flood shelters. Sanitary napkins should be included in the regular relief package.

Also separate boats should be kept for pregnant and lactating mothers. Flood-affected women are at risk of greater mental trauma. "We should provide psychosocial support for them," he added.

Media representative Naznin Munni said people move from remote areas to the city for shelter. But even the city gets flooded nowadays. People can take shelter in the city if city protection embankments are built.

"Thousands of houses get damaged in the flood every year to be repaired again and again. If we can construct disaster resilient houses, people can take shelter on the roofs during floods. Thus their own houses will turn into flood shelters. Also baby food should be included in relief packages," she added.

BRAC has long been conducting risk reduction, training and public awareness initiatives to increase and strengthen the capacity of local communities and local government bodies to reduce the damages of flash floods in the northeastern districts particularly in the haor region.

BRAC distributed dry food, drinking water, medicine, oral saline, high energy biscuits, khichuri, fodder, shelter and cooking materials and cash to the people affected by the recent flash flood.