Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Governance and Development: Bangladesh Perspective

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Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Governance and Development: Bangladesh Perspective
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Bangladesh, as a disaster-prone country, where disaster poses a huge challenge, and where post-disaster reconstruction generally focuses on the immediate needs, makes it difficult to incorporate longer terms concerns of disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Appropriate legislative arrangements for disaster risk management, including the mainstreaming of DRR into governance and development are duly adopted by the Government of Bangladesh. However, the level of enforcement is not up to the mark.

The DRR, at the national level, is a cross-cutting issue that needs to be accelerated by all government agencies rather than by a single department, Department of Disaster Management under the auspicious of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

An overarching national agency is still missing to provide leadership, determine broad disaster risk management policies, oversee implementation and advocate for the inclusion of DRR concerns in broader development.

The national capacity in disaster response has been developed based on the assumption that the country may face one national-scale disaster a year.

National policy and guidelines for incorporation of DRR in emergency preparedness, response and recovery programs in the light of national-level policies pertaining to the DRR for the reconstruction of affected communities remain a challenge for government to accelerate the paradigm shift from the relief culture to the DRR culture.

At the same time enhance understanding of DRR and related tools are still out of visualization of the Government of Bangladesh.

The national capacity in disaster response has been developed based on the assumption that the country may face one national-scale disaster a year.

But Bangladesh has faced two national-scale disasters in 2007 and 2009, a lesson of which required further validation of the underlying assumption, particularly in the context of climate change in an effort to carry forward the momentum gained in the area of DRR.

Besides, there is a presence of a limited systematic approach to capturing communities’ practices for DRR for replicating/scaling up across the country.

Two important challenges we have noticed in Bangladesh are: a) availability of funding and sustaining its inflow for strengthening DRR at the community level and b) strengthening the local DMCs with adequate authority and resources to plan and implement DRR.

People exposed to disaster vulnerability are deprived and they never get access to know what sort of DRR program with the amount is planned and executed by the Upazila and District administration in Bangladesh.

A clear leadership and a common vision of DRR as developmental and distinct from disaster management have an essence to put DRR into the domain of development.

DRR is perceived as everyone’s business and all stakeholders both state and non-state must adopt DRR into their respective development plans to mainstream for reducing disaster risk and enabling vulnerable people to manage live and livelihood with security and less risk.

Besides non-state actors, the Government must act upon the Disaster Management Act and SOD to translate the provision of mainstreaming DRR into development planning by incorporating DRR into each development plan of relevant ministries and departments.

Moreover, the local level disaster management committees lacked understanding and skill about need assessment, and the system for data storage, compilation and analysis were weak.

Political leadership was not attained to the Disaster Management Committees at District and Upazila level.

Permanent Representatives (members of civil service of Bangladesh) of the central government were entrusted with the responsibility to deal with local disaster management committees.

It is necessary throughout the policy framework and especially in this final stage to involve relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide the supportive backup and motivation for such communities to implement, monitor and evaluate such a strategy.

For example, Deputy Commissioner is heading the District Disaster Management Committee while Upazila Nirbahi Officer is heading Upazila Disaster Management Committee.

Persons who manage and lead Disaster Management Committees are not experts in Disaster Management but the Standing Orders on Disasters gave them the authority to coordinate and manage DRR efforts.

Political leadership at the local level is not involved to lead the DRR and, therefore, people’s interest and sense of accountability are not reflected.

People exposed to disaster vulnerability are deprived and they never get access to know what sort of DRR program with the amount is planned and executed by the Upazila and District administration in Bangladesh.

On the other hand, Union Disaster Management Committee headed by the Union Chairman has been in the paper as chairman and other members are not well trained about the procedure of committee to run.

The policy framework has been developed in response to increased calls by both people of the disaster-prone Bangladesh as well as the international community to recognize the DRR as an institutional basis to administer the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh in reducing the disaster risk for a safer community.

Disasters are preventable and risk can be eliminated. Concerted, collaborative, and strategic efforts by all stakeholders in a coordinated manner and all sectors of society reduce disaster vulnerability and build disaster resilience at all levels.

If this is the case then the policy framework can only reiterate previous successful strategies or else present a new, far more beneficial approach previously not considered by the government concerned.

It is necessary throughout the policy framework and especially in this final stage to involve relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide the supportive backup and motivation for such communities to implement, monitor and evaluate such a strategy.

Without motivation in the form of follow up activities and the presence of support such a policy strategy would potentially be difficult to implement, not because the communities are incapable but rather due to an ingrained ‘handout’ culture where support is expected.

However, this process could contribute to moving away from such a culture as it involves the practical application of a strategy that is ultimately the responsibility of the multi-stakeholders concerned.

What we found out of detailed analysis in the research paper, the government of Bangladesh should be heading towards reviewing the priority intrinsic components identified and establish all the global and regional drivers of DRR as well as negotiate with the relevant stakeholders including the community about how to analyze the effectiveness of each strategy both past and present for future.

Appropriate legislative arrangements for disaster risk management, including the mainstreaming of DRR into development adopted by the Government of Bangladesh are to be enforced professionally in order to sustain the moment already Bangladesh gained.

At a national level, DRR is a cross-cutting issue that needs to be ‘owned’ by all government agencies rather than by a single department, Department of Disaster Management under the auspicious of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.

However, an overarching national agency is required to provide leadership, determine broad disaster risk management policies, oversee implementation and advocate for the inclusion of DRR concerns in broader development.

A strategic, ‘joined-up’ approach to DRR and mainstreaming is an essential component of development plans in hazard-prone countries like Bangladesh.

The developing world is calling for climate justice due to the historical responsibility of industrialized countries in increasing disaster risk and their moral obligation to financially and technologically assist developing countries in their DRR efforts.

Diplomacy has to be accelerated to gain substantial support from the developed countries to reduce the disaster risk posed by climate change.

Disasters are preventable and risk can be eliminated. Concerted, collaborative, and strategic efforts by all stakeholders in a coordinated manner and all sectors of society reduce disaster vulnerability and build disaster resilience at all levels.

DRR under the leadership of the national government is our first line of defense against climate change and an effective strategy for promoting climate change adaptation at the international, national and local levels, in particular by mainstreaming DRR in all development efforts.

The political commitment of the national government to advance DRR, as manifested in outcomes, is high and sustained momentum for action should be strengthened.

Acquire adequate equipment, logistical resources and trained human resources to face sudden onset disasters. Development of national policy and guidelines for incorporation of DRR in emergency preparedness, response and recovery programs in the reconstruction of affected communities.

Establishing an appropriate institutional mechanism to promote DRR into disaster response, preparedness and recovery is a must.

Comprehensive training programs for the government officials to build the capacity to implement the DRR guidelines should be continued.

DRR is a shared responsibility of all, in which the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has an important leadership mandate and a moral duty to create enabling policy environments, to introduce effective approaches for disaster-resilient development, and to ensure that the needed changes do occur.

The government must make sure that they have a duty to our people to exercise our oversight function in national policy development and implementation and to ensure the transparent and effective use of public funds in support of the implementation of the DRR Programme in Bangladesh.

DRR is more cost-effective than disaster relief and recovery has to be widely disseminated to attract more funding for the execution of the DRR program.

The government must need to increase awareness and understanding by all parliamentarians of the importance of DRR in protecting the people and fortifying development.

The government should be dedicated to elevate national and global aspirations in addressing disaster risk from mere ‘reduction’ towards ‘elimination’ and to promote disaster prevention with ‘zero tolerance’ approach to disaster losses as a mindset and approach for international, national and local development activities.

Disaster Governance has to be reflected in resource mobilization as well as execution for the DRR program on the ground.

The government needs to re-evaluate existing development models and in so doing consider the socio-economic standards and quality of living for our people towards a sustainable and equitable world and a disaster resilient human society for future generations.

Deepening our understanding of the linkages of DRR with development issues such as climate change, poverty, gender, education, public health, maternal and child care, environment, infrastructure, among other issues, and translate it to practical actions is crucial.

Disaster Governance has to be reflected in resource mobilization as well as execution for the DRR program on the ground.

We should become agents of change and transcend political boundaries in advancing DRR and fostering synergies with climate change adaptation for achieving the SDGs by 2030.

Adopt a national strategy and put in place the requisite institutional frameworks and arrangements that mainstream DRR into development policy, programs and practices.

Allocate resources from costly disaster relief and recovery activities to cost-effective DRR measures for sustainable development.

Increase allocation in the national budget and development funding at the national and local levels for reducing disaster risk.

Enhance political commitment to DRR and to translate this into development investments and resource sharing at the regional level.

Political leadership to be attained in different levels of disaster management coordination committees.

Political leaders should the heart of coordination with support from the central and local administration.

Civil society actors remain important for advocacy: they can provide a vehicle for bringing insights from the grassroots, a mechanism for the representation of popular views, and the potential for popular legitimacy and oversight.

Introduce DRR in the basic education systems, local government programs, and national and local youth programs so as to enable them to understand the importance of DRR to sustain the overall development of the country.

Call on international donors and financial institutions to support innovative financing mechanisms such as debt-swaps for preventive DRR measures excluding the use of such mechanisms for disaster relief.

Ensure that donor-government consultations leading up to country assistance plans are used as opportunities to design programs that are risk-aware at national and sub-national levels.

Donor accountability must be ensured with the strong and able leadership of the political government.

Civil society-policy maker’s coalitions can be larger and include grassroots actors like community-based organizations in the coalitions in order to mobilize local resources and popular opinion to advocate for change as well as line ministries.

Civil society actors remain important for advocacy: they can provide a vehicle for bringing insights from the grassroots, a mechanism for the representation of popular views, and the potential for popular legitimacy and oversight.

(Dr. Mohammad Tarikul Islam is an Associate Professor, Department of Government and Politics, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh)

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