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Bangladesh: HCTT Contingency Plan 2020 for Climate-Related Disasters in the COVID-19 Pandemic Context - 17 May 2020

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1.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The objective of this document is to help the humanitarian community to complement preparedness and response efforts undertaken by Bangladesh’s national authorities in relation to climate-related disasters. It reflects the increased level of preparation of national authorities as well as the accumulated experience of the humanitarian community in supporting their efforts. The primary assumption of this plan is the fact that climate-related events to which Bangladesh is highly exposed to will not vanish due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, adapting preparedness and response interventions in a way that factors in this new reality is key. The second basic assumption is related to the fact that out of the 64 districts that comprises Bangladesh, 25 are most vulnerable to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic mitigation measures and most of those the ones most exposed and vulnerable to climate-related disasters. Therefore, the resilience of the most vulnerable population to climate-related disasters is already negatively impacted prior the occurrence of such disasters in 2020. Considering the recurring nature of climate-related disasters, the contingency plan was developed as per OCHA’s RAPID approach. Given the wealth of experience of the country in dealing with the forces of nature, anticipating likely disaster scenario based on empirical data and evidence and assessing potential response gaps to further promote preparedness efforts is relatively simple. Such process helps humanitarian partners to organize themselves more efficiently and effectively in anticipation of the disasters in order to respond with speed, volume and quality. An important novelty is introduced in the plan i.e. the inclusion of a set of thresholds related to each of the concerned disasters (cyclone, floods, landslides). This mechanism is promoted to allow for the humanitarian community to preagree on criteria by which a coordinated humanitarian response will be triggered. Considering the severely affected resilience level of the most exposed and vulnerable population in pre-disaster time, these thresholds are not set at unrealistic nor at exceptional levels. This decision is related to the humanitarian imperative of assisting national authorities in easing additional human suffering as quickly as possible. Therefore, while the evacuations of 1.6 million persons for 2019 cyclone Bulbul did not trigger a coordinated humanitarian response, a similar cyclone in the current context might well call for a coordinated assistance in support of national authorities’ interventions. The introduction of these thresholds does not prevent any organization to undertake any response activity any time. However, a coordinated response through the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) requires evidence and clear parameters in order for the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) to welcome and to support these efforts. MoDMR’s support to partners’ assistance is essential for all stakeholders engaged in a coordinated manner. It concerns notably the facilitation of the granting of required authorizations for NGO partners to implement their response efforts. A coordinated response through the HCTT comes also with clear responsibilities for the members of the HCTT notably, in terms of coordination, monitoring, joint resource mobilization and localization. Important to note that a cataclysmic type of scenario e.g. Category 4 Cyclone or Mega Earthquake scenario is not part of this contingency plan. Such scenario would need to be addressed similarly as in the scenario presented in the HCTT Earthquake Contingency Plan and it would necessitate the IASC Humanitarian System-Wide Scale-Up Activation.