Bangladesh since time immemorial has recurrently been battered by all sorts of vagaries of nature including cyclones, months-long floods, salinity intrusion and riverbank erosion. The regimes before the independence of the country simply left the people to their fate at times of trial and tribulation. Despite resilience of their own, people had to regularly incur heavy loss of lives and properties due to the negligence of the colonial rulers. The devastating Bhola Cyclone in November 1970 was a case in point.
Gone are those horrifying days and never to come again, thanks to the disaster management initiatives of the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In addition to enactment of several acts and laws and adoption of immediate and strategic plans relating to disaster management, the country has strengthened disaster forecasting systems and developed thousands of disaster resilient school cum cyclone centres along the coastal belt. More such multipurpose shelters are going to be built in the disaster-prone regions. These measures have drastically brought down deaths and loss of properties. However, the scope of tackling disasters is not limited to these measures only; it is much wider than just building cyclone centres and distribution of relief materials. It ranges from massive tree plantation drives along the coastal regions to developing stress-tolerant crop varieties. It is because of these successes that crop failure is almost unknown nowadays though severity and frequencies of calamities have multiplied due to global warming. Bangladesh can now feed more than double its population at the early years of independence. The country has created a dedicated Climate Change Trust Fund to achieve climate resilience; budgetary allocations have also been made to build houses for the people affected by riverbank erosion.In her first term in office, the premier proved UN wrong when only a dozen or so people were killed, mostly from snake bites and drowning, instead two million as forecasted by the world body due to food shortages and disease in the massive 1998 deluge.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina summarised the gains in disaster management saying that the country has achieved great successes in reducing risk and loss of lives and properties caused by cyclones, floods and droughts. These achievements have earned for the country international acclaim and made Bangladesh a model in disaster management.