Coastal NGOs want BD cyclone signalling system reform

Leaders of civil society working in the coastal belt on Saturday demanded reform of the cyclone signalling system and construction of cyclone-shelters with housing facilities. They also demanded repair of embankments which were damaged by Cyclone Amphan on an emergency basis to protect next season’s crops.
Ten NGOs, which are working in the coastal district from Satkhira to Cox’s Bazar, raised the demands at an online video press conference titled “Cyclone Amphan and emergency construction of embankment to protect next crop and fish resources in the coastal areas,” facilitated by COAST, a coastal NGO in Bangladesh.
In his speech, Rafiqul Alam of Dwip Unnayan Sangsta, Haitya, who have long cyclone management experience since 1970, said that cyclone signal system is still from the colonial period which is tailored to protect ports instead of protecting people. Cyclone signalling system should be reformed, he said.
Dr. Ainun Nishat of BRAC University said that the meteorological department should be shifted to the science and technology ministry or to disaster management ministry instead of defence.
He termed the present government approach as mostly “relief approach” in respect of cyclone management which should be in “disaster risk reduction approach”.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST said government institution like Water Development Board (WDB) have to reform and ownership of embankment should be given to the people.
He also said, we should not expect foreign fund like previous times, we should mobilize our own resources for disaster management.
In his address, Nayeem Gowhar Wahra of Disaster Forum, placed the example from Charfassion Bhola, that how people and NGO participation of maintaining the embankment.
He proposed a household-based shelter system instead of making cyclone shelters and said 35 household based shelters could be constructed at the cost of one cyclone shelter. Examples of this household are available in Kolapara of Patuakhali district, he said.
Syed Aminul Haque of COAST gave the keynote presentation that depicted total damage of cyclone Amphan in the coastal area.
He placed three immediate demands including, Tk 400 crore allocation to repair embankments to protect next crop in this monsoon, local government should be assigned to do this emergency construction while the WDB could give technical assistance, and permanent maintenance responsibility of the embankment should be given to the local government.
Among others, Ziaul Haque Mukta and Prodip K Roy of CSRL, Ashek E Elahi of Progoti (Sathkira), Sheikh Asad of Udayan Bangladesh (Bagerhat), Ziaul Ahsan of PGUS (Pirojpur) and Ziauddin Himu of CRUPDA (Barguna) also took part in discussion in the video Press Conference.