Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday said Bangladesh has made significant progress in achieving capacity and preparedness of tackling disaster in the country.
“Bangladesh has made significant progress in capacity and preparedness to face digester but the time is yet to come to be satisfied,” said TIB through a virtual press conference.Bangladesh has a good reputation of disaster management, including reducing casualties and developing a structured model for disaster management.
But there is still scope for improvement and there is no scope for self-satisfaction right now. Because, there is still a loss of about 2.2 percent of the national income a year due to the growing natural disasters and the existing lack of good governance, it said
If these deficits are eliminated, it is possible to reduce this huge loss of national income, it added.
TIB unveiled the study report titled “Governance Challenges In Disaster Response and Way Forward: Cyclone Amphan And Other Recent Experiences,” through a virtual press conference on Thursday.
The study findings were made conducting thorough research of the last five major natural disasters including Sidr (2007), Aila (2009), Roanu (2016), flood in 2019 and Amphan (2020), the watchdog said.
TIB, however, has found 14.36- 76.92 percent corruption in four climate change projects related to development of coastal infrastructure, renovation and repair.There are specific allegations of financial loss of Tk 26lakh-Tk 140 crore for the corruption in the projects, said the study.
The watchdog also reported that due to corruption and irregularities volume of damage has been flared up by natural disasters.
It also said that unskilled workers and lack of coordination and preparedness make the disaster worse.
“We observed corruption in the construction of disaster resilient infrastructure--dams, roads, shelter”, said Md Newazul Maula, deputy research manager of TIB while presenting the keynote paper.
He also said the irregularities include giving priority to personal interests in the construction of shelters/dams using political power, shelters being used for personal purposes and distribution of relief considering political interest.
There was also lack of transparency in disclosure of information including actual loss report, relief distribution report and number of local beneficiaries, he said
“TIB also found that there was misleading disaster forecast at the central level and local level as well as ignorance to provide emergency control room/hotline number .
Shortage of emergency rescue operations by local administrations and public representatives were also found, the researcher said adding that there was also a lack of institutional initiatives such as security patrolling by law enforcers.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said “Bangladesh has a reputation for disaster management and in many cases some countries are following our model.”
“Despite the significant progress, there is still a significant gap in compliance with international commitments, national laws, policies and mandates on disaster management,” he said
Apart from this, the existing research has shown that every indicator of good governance is severely deficient, he added
“Since Bangladesh has done well in dealing with disasters and the state has adequate preparedness and capacity, it is possible to do better in dealing with disasters by avoiding existing deficits and challenges.”
TIB made 12 recommendations to overcome the challenge of good governance in dealing with disasters. It recommended updating the existing warning system making it understandable to general people.
The recommendation was suggested to give forecasts warnings in high-risk areas timely. Relief and rehabilitation activities should be conducted transparently, giving priority to the most vulnerable families and areas and information should be made public, it added.
TIB also recommended for building adequate shelters with special facilities for women, children, the elderly and the disabled and the shelters and dams should be built, renovated and rebuilt. As well as the displaced families should be rehabilitated.
It also said that accountability must be ensured to curb corruption and irregularities and culprits must be punished for ensuring good governance.