National Consultation Workshop on "Waterlogging Response Preparedness Plan for Southwest Bangladesh" jointly coordinated by ERF, UNDP and DDM

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A national consultation meeting on “Waterlogging Response Preparedness Plan for Southwest Bangladesh” has been jointly coordinated by Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and Early Recovery Facility (ERF), UNDP on the 3rd of March, 2016. The workshop was conducted in the conference room of DDM, in the Disaster Management Bhaban, Mohakhali, Dhaka.

UNDP has been implementing “Adaptive Early Recovery in Waterlogged Areas of Southwest Bangladesh”, in collaboration with WFP and FAO, funded by DFID. Following a local level consultation in Satkhira District, DDM along with ERF UNDP and expert consultant, developed a draft Waterlogging Response Preparedness Plan for the vulnerable communities of Southwest Bangladesh.

The objective of the workshop was to consolidate remarks from experts before finalization of the draft preparedness plan. Organised by DDM and facilitated by Ms. Tanzeba Ambereen Huq, Project Manager, ERF, the meeting was inaugurated by Mr. Md. Reaz Ahmed, Director General (Additional Secretary), DDM, with Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) attending as Chief Guest of the event. Mr. Khurshid Alam, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh, provided an overview of the joint initiative, and emphasized the significance of integrating a risk-management approach within “development” plans, to ensure there aren’t any detrimental negative externalities. Mr. Wais Kabir, Team Leader, FAO and Mr. Shahidul Islam, Executive Director of implementing partner Uttaran, also provided their viewpoints on the issue. Key focus of the workshop was the presentation of the preparedness plan by Mr. Shashanka Saadi, DRM Expert who served as Consultant for the draft plan.

Once the floor was announced open for remarks, an engaging and interactive session of discussion and debates ensued. Key issues such as the structuring of the “Task Force” that would lead implementation of the plan were closely and critically commented upon. The significance of identifying trigger points for quickening response, need for management training of crisis group members, importance of ensuring that development plans do not clash with disaster concerns and the need for national plans that are connected and coordinated, were highlighted and brought to focus. The crucial issue of how ecological concerns are vastly ignored in such crisis context was voiced by a few and recognized by the platform. The vitality of proactive collaboration between the Ministries, with MoDMR in lead and Ministry of Water and LGED as active members, was also agreed upon by participants.

The workshop was attended by many relevant stakeholders of the disaster sector – aside from representatives of the Government of Bangladesh (MoDMR, Ministry of Agriculture, LGED) UN Agencies and DFID, NGOs and INGOs such as Save the Children, ActionAID, Islamic Relief, Care International, BRAC were also present. Significant number of academicians and sector experts from Dhaka University, BUET, IWM, among others also attended and provided technical feedback on the feasibility of the Waterlogging Preparedness Plan.

The workshop was well-received by the participants, who expressed enthusiasm to have a follow-up of the proposal presented. Ms. Helen O’Conor, Climate and Environment Advisor, DFID, shared her valuable insight with regard to the Bangladesh scenario in context of Climate Change, and expressed encouragement for the finalization of the plan. Secretary of MoDMR, concluded the event with his closing remarks on how the plan once finalized would feed in to a draft policy, which would then be sent to the Cabinet for approval. He expressed high hopes for such a plan to turn into a policy, which would add to the betterment of Bangladesh’s waterlogging crisis in the long run.