Cox’s Bazar, 13 October 2020
Every year on 13 October, International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction places a spotlight on how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters.
This year’s historic monsoon floods were a stark reminder that Bangladesh is truly at the forefront of the climate emergency. The floods were the second highest since 1989 and the second longest since the 1998. With over 5.4 million people directly affected, the impact of the 2020 monsoon floods on lives and livelihoods certainly call for an urgent enhancement of climate adaptation programmes for upgrading the resilience of infrastructures and communities in view of tomorrow’s more extreme and more frequent climate-related events. Given the fast-evolving context, all partners should strengthen their collaboration on risks assessment and risk analysis processes to reduce and to mitigate risks associated with infrastructure development and climate-related events in line with the HumanitarianDevelopment Nexus.
In Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh, the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) partners – national and international NGOs and UN agencies –work intensively throughout the year with Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi volunteers to mitigate impacts on communities from heavy rains and strong winds during the monsoon and cyclone seasons. Volunteers are at the centre of the disaster risk reduction response in Cox’s Bazar and are engaged in a wide range of mitigation activities in the camps and surrounding host communities.
From providing early warning and rescuing persons from drowning to stabilising slopes on the hilly terrain to constructing safe pathways, Rohingya and Bangladeshi volunteers are working together to protect communities and save lives while also safeguarding the environment. Humanitarian partners ensure that volunteers are able to maintain COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures. “We trained together with the Rohingya so that they could learn the ways our people have dealt with natural disasters. We shared and discussed with them our experiences,” explained Mahmud, a Bangladeshi Cyclone Preparedness Programme Volunteer.
The humanitarian community has in place a 72-hour response plan for an extreme weather events, such as cyclones. The plan was developed in 2018 in cooperation the Government of Bangladesh, and in line with the Government’s Standing Orders on Disaster. “The humanitarian community has collaborated closely with authorities in Cox’s Bazar, building on years of local experience with natural disasters and established disaster risk governance. This has led to fewer injuries, less displacements and more resilient communities in and around the camps,” said Peter Kern, ISCG Acting Senior Coordinator.
Host communities and nearly 860,000 Rohingya refugees face extreme weather events throughout the year, impacting their lives. The region is also impacted by climate change, which has affected the annual monsoon and cyclone season. Under the leadership of the Government of Bangladesh, the humanitarian partners and the Rohingya refugee and neighbouring Bangladeshi communities are better prepared for disasters this year compared to previous years. Generous contributions from the international community to the 2020 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis make this possible. The 2020 Joint Response plan, which is so far 48.2 percent funded, remains vital to sustain life-saving preparedness and response efforts for extreme weather events, which have become more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bangladesh has an excellent track record in disaster management and, the country is a striking example of effective adaptation to climate change. With the support of the United Nations and the humanitarian community, the 2010 Standing Orders on Disaster (SOD) were revised last year and, the English translation of the 2019 SOD has now been released. The cluster approach is embedded into the disaster management protocols in line with international best practices.
A handbook on humanitarian coordination and collaboration in Bangladesh for climate-related disasters was published by the Office of the Resident Coordinator in collaboration with UKAid to mark the International Disaster Reduction Day. The handbook is a tool for any organization willing to support Bangladesh’s authorities and communities to prepare for, to respond to and to bounce back from shocks.
Francesca Fontanini, firstname.lastname@example.org, cel: +880 1847327276