Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh. Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies in Bangladesh. Mechanism to Reduce the Natural Disaster Risk.
Bangladesh had been specified as the most vulnerable area in the world for occurring natural disasters. It is an overpopulated country positioned in South Asia that grabs around 148,460 square kilometres. In Bangladesh, the entire population will be more than 163 million by 2019. Bangladesh has a large population compared to the land areas. Therefore, it has ranked the overpopulated countries on the planet.
Bangladesh shares its border with India and Myanmar. The most significant rivers are Meghna, Jamuna, Padma, and the Brahmaputra, among around 300 big and small rivers around Bangladesh. These are the big rivers that contribute to the development in Bangladesh and natural disasters. Every year, Bangladesh experiences floods, also the most devastating natural disaster in Bangladesh. The primary and branch rivers are responsible for occurring floods due to excessive sediments in the river. Bangladesh shares its border with the Bay of Bengal that occupies around 2 07,000 square kilometres.
The sea is responsible for many natural disasters in Bangladesh, such as cyclones, storms, tsunami, earthquakes, and salinity. Additionally, the rivers occur floods and riverbank erosion. According to Kobiruzzaman (2021), the most common natural hazards in Bangladesh are floods, storms, earthquakes, and cyclones. These hazards kill many people simultaneously damage a vast property. The most devastating flood occurred in 1998 that killed around 1100 people, followed by 350 people in 2012, 145 people in 2017, and 93 in 2020. Apart from killing people, they also damage huge infrastructure properties such as houses, roads, trees, and so more.
Apart from these floods, Bangladesh has experienced devastating cyclones several times in recent decades. The most catastrophic cycle occurred in 1991 that killed around 138,866 people, followed by about 5,000 people in 2007, 195 people in 2009, and 26 people in 2020.
Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh
Based on the previous studies, the author has proposed five-stage strategies for disaster risk reduction in Bangladesh. The five stages are prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
A proverb says that “prevention is better than cure.” Prevention refers to the action that can assist in avoiding hazards. Preventive measures can prevent few natural disasters in Bangladesh, such as floods, river erosion, and salinity. Prevention is the most crucial step to avoid the negative consequences of natural disasters. For example, a proper drainage system can regulate the flow of water during the monsoon season. Every year a large amount of sediment gets dumped in rivers in Bangladesh. Sediments increase the potentiality of the river for erosion and floods (WA.gov.au., n.d.). So, the river basin contributes to the smooth flow of water to the sea. It passes the water to the sea quickly so that flood cannot occur.
Additionally, the government should construct a strong embankment alongside the vulnerable rivers in Bangladesh. The embankment can prevent floods and salinity. Salinity affects the river water and soil extremely. Every year, salinity occurs in the eastern part of Bangladesh (Khulna, Satkhira areas) due to a lack of solid embankment (Salehin, Chowdhury, Clarke, Mondal, Nowreen, Jahiruddin, & Haque, 2018). Prevention can prevent this disaster, so prevention is one of the crucial steps of Bangladesh’s natural disaster crisis management mechanism.
Mitigation is the reduction of the adverse consequences of a natural disaster. Many natural disasters in Bangladesh are not possible to prevent by precaution actions. Therefore, mitigation is another significant step to reduce the negative consequences. Mitigation strategies can be applied before, during, and after disaster events to mitigate the negative impact.
Earthquake is another devastating natural disaster in Bangladesh that we cannot prevent. For example, many buildings in Dhaka city do not comply with building codes imposed by the government. However, people can lessen the natural disaster crisis such as Earthquake by following the building codes properly. Relocation and an effective communication system can assist in mitigating the problem (Rahman, Rahman & Rahman, 2017). So, the mitigation step includes the relocation, maintaining the building codes, and constructing community shelters. Rahman, Rahman & Rahman (2017) stated that two types of mitigation tools are structural and nonstructural. The nonstructural mitigation step includes effective communication and awareness campaigns.
Preparedness refers to the actions and measures that improve people’s ability to combat the natural disaster crisis. It is a series of activities that reduce the adverse effects of natural hazards (Rahman, Rahman & Rahman, 2017). Preparedness is applicable for natural hazards in Bangladesh such as floods, tsunami, earthquakes, salinity, and drought. The government and non-government agencies educate vulnerable areas people to prepare for expected disasters. According to Kobiruzzaman (2021), effective communication via social media platforms plays a significant role to complete the preparedness and mitigation process. Preparedness for the disaster enhances the mitigation process.
Preparedness includes evacuation of the affected people before disasters hit on the community, for example. In 1991, a cyclone hit Bangladesh that killed more than 137,000 people, damaging around $1.6 billion.
In 2020, another catastrophic cyclone named Amphan hit Bangladesh that killed only five people and damaged around $10 billion BTD. Researchers have identified the reasons behind the cause of fewer people died in the recent cyclone. It is all about preparedness involving evacuation and maintaining effective communication.
Response refers to the instant actions taken before, during, and after the disaster to save the people and property. The government, non-government, and international disaster management organizations’ responses contribute immensely towards saving lives and mitigating crises. It includes rescue operations and emergency relief. An effective response can lessen the negative impact of the hazards. In Bangladesh, good reactions from government and non-government organizations saved many people in cyclones in 2020. Responses also include initiation aid, temporary shelters, and grants.
Recovery is a significant part of the mechanism to reduce the natural hazards crisis in Bangladesh. A recovery operation in disaster management refers to the actions taken after the disaster occurred. It includes both infrastructure and non-infrastructure recovery processes. Infrastructure recovery refers to the re-construction of physical and economic damages such as repairing houses, educational institutes, roads, and so more. The government and non-government organizations need to develop a reasonable budget to help the victims repair the damages. Every natural disaster affects the ecosystem, so the authority also focuses on this issue.