DHAKA: Today (October 13) is International Day for Disaster Reduction and ‘Knowledge for Life’ is the theme of this year.
By resolution 44/236 (22 December 1989), the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) designated the second Wednesday of October International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.
Later, by resolution 64/200 of 21 December 2009, the UNGA decided to designate October 13 as the date to commemorate the Day and to change the Day's name to International Day for Disaster Reduction.
The focus of the day this year is on the traditional, indigenous and local knowledge which complement modern science and add to an individual’s and societies’ resilience.
It is particularly significant for Bangladesh as inhabitants of this country has a long experience of combating disaster.
Unlike MDG, there is a specific goal on climate change in the SDG. First target of Goal 13 (Climate Action) is to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
Recently, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by world leaders to combat poverty, inequality and climate change. The ambitious agenda addressing issues from education to the environment was finally adopted on September 25, 2015.
Bangladesh made commendable progress in achieving earlier goals, namely Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Hopes are high revolving achieving SDGs over the next 15 years as well.
However, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction charts the global course over the next 15 years. The Sendai Framework is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
This framework is a 15-year voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.
Apart from international obligations, there is a specific law in Bangladesh on disaster management and awareness raising has been suggested in the law.
The Disaster Management Act (DMA) became a piece of law on September 24, 2012 after a long collective effort by the government and civil society actors to create a legislative tool under which disaster and emergency management will be undertaken.
It has placed mandatory obligations and responsibilities on ministries and committees, and ensures transparency and accountability in the overall disaster management system.
National Disaster Management Council has been formed and responsibility and functions of the Council has been described in Section 6 of the DRA.
It includes providing necessary directives or consultation to concern authority and persons to arrange seminars and workshops in order to increase awareness about all concern issues, activities, directives, programs, laws, rules and policies related to disaster.
To recapitulate, there was a flooding in some parts of Bangladesh a few months back and people from extreme poor households are struggling in recovering from the disaster.
One of the priorities identified in Sendai Framework is ‘Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to Build Back Better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction’.
Authorities should take this into consideration while undertaking rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.
Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhury is a human rights worker.
BDST: 1540 HRS, OCT 13, 2015