Humanitarian community commends Bangladesh government for their preparedness on tropical storm Mahasen

Report
from UN Country Team in Bangladesh
Published on 19 May 2013

Dhaka, 19 May 2013 - While Tropical Storm Mahasen reached the coastline of Bangladesh on Thursday weaker than anticipated, the preparedness work undertaken by the Government and humanitarian partners saved countless lives.

Preliminary assessments from the Government indicate that some 1,280,000 people were affected with 13 lives lost. 10 districts were hit with in the wake of the storm. Early recovery support in terms of restoring livelihoods, shelter and providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene in localized areas is the priority now.

“While unfortunately there has been a loss of life, the government demonstrated its commitment to disaster risk reduction and have taken the necessary preparedness steps to prevent a catastrophe” said Pascal Villeneuve, UN RC ai.

Bangladesh is regarded as a global leader in disaster risk reduction since adopting a series of preparedness measures following Cyclone Bhola in 1971 that killed more than 400,000 people. In 2009, when Cyclone Aila struck, many volunteers helped move thousands of people out of the disaster area, ultimately saving lives. The death toll from that tragedy was less than 200.

An estimated one million people were evacuated from 13 coastal districts in the 24-hour period prior to the storm hitting on Thursday. The Bangladesh Government, through its highly regarded Cyclone Preparedness Programme, activated a number of preparedness measures including mobilizing thousands of community volunteers; sending alerts and information to at-risk communities and advancing cash payments as well as collaborating with international humanitarian partners to ensure a coordinated response was on standby.

“This part of the world is regularly hit by major cyclones and so everyone took the threat extremely seriously and made sure the right measures were in place, and ensured communities in the path of the storm were safe and well informed” said Pascal Villeneuve, UN RC ai.

The United Nations has considerable experience in disaster risk reduction, preparedness and response and will continue to work closely with the Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian partners to ensure lessons learned are incorporated into future planning.

For further information please contact:

Gerson Brandao, Humanitarian Advisor to the Resident Coordinator, Bangladesh tel: +88028150088 ext1934, mob: 01713145043 email: brandaoazevedo@un.org