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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Environment

Disaster Risk Reduction

Post-2015 framework and our stand

Natural disasters have become almost typical of Bangladesh

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is the first internationally accepted framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) adopted in January 2005 by 168 countries. The HFA outlines five priorities for action, and offers guiding principles and practical means for achieving disaster resilience. Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 by building resilience to nations and communities to disasters. Bangladesh, as one of the most important signatories of this framework achieved significant progress in effective integration of disaster risk considerations into sustainable development policies, planning and programming at all levels, with a special emphasis on disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and vulnerability reduction.

Bangladesh has made significant progress in achieving most of the HFA targets within the given time-frame of 2015. DRR has become the national and local priority; therefore sectoral policies and legal framework are in place with specific coordination, duties and responsibilities of all actors involved in disaster management. Special emphasis has been given on DRR and CCA issues in the development goals (SFYP and Vision 2020) of the country. To bring the wider stakeholders on board, the national platform for DRR is established. With a paradigm shift from conventional relief and rehabilitation to disaster risk reduction, emphasis has been given on establishing a culture of safety and resilience at all levels of society.

DRR is included in the school curriculum. The local government has made effective linkages with the public and private organisations engaged in early warning information generation and dissemination; thus institutionalisation of early warning information dissemination has been expanded to community level. However, despite achieving a substantial progress in terms of implementation of HFA, Bangladesh has lot more to highlight in the consultation process to be considered in the post HFA framework.

As the Hyogo Decade comes to a close, the UNISDR is now facilitating the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction through a multi-stakeholder consultation process. The consultation process was launched in Geneva in March 2012 by UNISDR. Numbers of issues and elements have started to emerge from these consultations. Main message arising from the discussions so far is that the HFA2 should be built on the successes and lessons learned under the current framework. Another clear message is the need for a much stronger political commitment with a comprehensive set of accountability measures to monitor and track its implementation.

Based on the past learning and experience of HFA implementation, Bangladesh is also facilitating a consultation process at different levels nationally and internationally engaging different stakeholders which undoubtedly brings a good opportunity to consolidate lessons learned to strongly present Bangladesh position in the upcoming global consultation of stakeholders meeting on 19-23 May 2013 at Geneva, Switzerland.

The most important issue Bangladesh can recommend for the post HFA framework is the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change. It is evident that more than ninety per cent of disasters are related to climate events. The post-Hyogo Framework needs to find ways to converge with the development and environment agendas, including in the area of climate change adaptation. Building capacity to deal with climate-related disaster risks will be fundamental to future risk-reduction strategies. Disaster managers cannot continue to develop risk-reduction strategies based only on past trends.

Another important issue is to include DRR in the next development goals framework. This will help strengthen political will and integrate risk management into development planning -- both fundamental and further progress on reducing disaster risk. By mainstreaming DRR into other development goals, we can expect sustainable development in the whole would in general and third world in particular. It should be strongly pointed out that disaster risk reduction has not yet been linked with the MDG and sustainability goals. Disaster risk reduction should also become part of the development goal in the Rio+20.

Enhancing the linkage between DRR and poverty reduction issue require more attention in the post-HFA framework. Poverty reduction has been a priority objective of development of Bangladesh since its emergence as an independent nation in 1971. All development plans of Bangladesh as well as the two poverty reduction strategy papers recognised the importance of poverty reduction but the country fails to establish the nexus between DRR, development and poverty, thus despite notable progress in poverty reduction Bangladesh faces the stark reality that about 45 million of its population still live in poverty.

Good governance for disaster risk reduction is another issue to be highlighted in the post-HFA framework. Governance is the key to success for effective and sustained disaster risk reduction. Good governance will elevate disaster risk reduction as a policy priority as it will ensure allocation of necessary resources for disaster risk reduction and accountability.

Urbanization is a normal process and it is growing faster than expected. There are more people living in urban areas than in rural areas globally; by 2030 this pattern will apply in all developing regions including Asia and Africa, which adds new dimensions to disaster risk. The post-Hyogo framework must take this new reality into account with a focus on urban planning and building safer cities and Bangladesh can strongly propose that.

Cross cutting issues are not strongly highlighted in the current framework. It is widely recognised that women of Bangladesh play a crucial role in their family to face the challenges of disaster. They are the first responders at family level in any emergency scenario. But the contributions of women to protect and rebuild their families and communities before, during and after disasters are always unrecognised. Recognising women and children's role in resilience building should be highlighted in the post-HFA framework.

Private sector engagement in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation should be strongly highlighted in the discussion. In most countries, their private sector has been the driving force behind socio-economic development. Private sector can play an important role in disaster risk reduction by investing more in development and humanitarian issues.

Current HFA identifies the need to promote development of risk transfer mechanisms, including insurance, as a priority action for building resilience of nations and communities to recover after disasters. The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference also called for enhanced action on risk transfer and insurance in the Cancun Adaptation Framework. But Bangladesh Government did not achieve any significant progress on risk financing in terms of risk transfer for the disaster affected people.

The Hyogo Framework is an instrument for a movement towards resilience; therefore, the post-2015 framework needs to be comprehensive in terms of the sequence of actions, selecting the areas that will help most to move others. Being a global leader in disaster management, Bangladesh should make the optimum use of this opportunity and represent the voice of the vulnerable in this global platform.

The writer is a humanitarian worker and works with Islamic Relief Bangladesh on Climate and Disaster Resilience.

E-mail: niger.dilnahar@islamicrelief-bd.org

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