Mainstreaming disaster management urgent, say experts

Experts has stressed the need for mainstreaming the disaster management in policymaking to address the emerging natural and manmade calamities with a view to ensuring the country’s sustainable economic growth.
“If we fail to mainstream the disaster management, we won’t be able to continue the country’s steady economic growth,” Prof ASM Dr Maksud Kamal, chairman of the Department of Disaster Science and Management at Dhaka University, told in a workshop on Tuesday.Oxfam Bangladesh organised the workshop, titled ‘Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Urban Areas of Bangladesh: Opportunities and Challenges’, at Spectra Convention Centre, Gulshan, in the capital.
Dr Maksud Kamal, an earthquake expert, said around 27,000 people, on average, live in per square kilometer of Dhaka city while only 200 people in the cities of Australia.
About Dhaka city’s vulnerability to tremor, he said Dhaka is the second most vulnerable city to earthquake in the world due to its rapid unplanned urbanisation.
“If an earthquake hits the city, vehicles of fire service and civil defence won’t be able to enter many parts of city to carry out rescue operations due to narrow roads,” he said.
All the disasters in urban area are manmade ones, Dr Kamal said adding that people are setting up new structures rampantly in the city violating without following the building code but Rajuk has not yet filed any case against them for violating the rules and regulations.
The earthquake expert said if any urban environmental crisis is emerged in Dhaka city, it will be a difficult task for the government to cope with the disaster.
Dr AQM Mahbub, a professor of the Department of Geography and Environment at Dhaka University, said the government should provide housing and other civic amenities to the slum dwellers so that they can cope with urban disasters.
He stressed strengthening local government institutions of the government to take a comprehensive policy and action plans to manage the urban disasters effectively.
Speaking as the chief guest, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Maya said Bangladesh is a disaster-prone country in the world while flood, cyclone, storm-surge and drought are common phenomena in the country.
He emphasised creating mass awareness about the disasters so that people can build resilience in addressing natural calamities.
Director General of the Directorate of Disaster Management Abdul Wazed, ECHO representative Abdul Awal and project manager of Oxfam (Urban DRR) Sonya Syafitri, among others, spoke at the workshop. – UNB