Friday, 2 December, 2022

For rehabilitation of cyclone victims

Roared into Bangladesh, leaving at least 36 people dead, destroying almost 10,000 houses, toppling trees and disrupting power, road and communication links, the cyclone Sitrang has once again pointed out the challenges for this delta to survive against the adverse impact of climate change. Although the total economic loss of this monster storm is yet to be calculated, some estimate it to be huge as 6,000 hectares of cropland were damaged, 1,000 fishing enclosures washed away and the power department guesses a loss worth TK 220 million alone. All these are instant loss but the people of the cyclone-hit areas, especially in the coastal region, have to bear the brunt of this monster weather system for months, even for years in some cases.

If experience is anything to go by, the coastal people having little to no wealth have to pass hard times after losing everything and looking forward to the help of other people to restart their life struggle for days ahead. Therefore, quick rehabilitation of these people is of utmost importance. Despite the government's immediate assistance, it would be hard for the victims to stand out against this damage in absence of a durable rehabilitation plan. However, there must be such a plan sketched now, keeping an eye on the probable damage of the next storm or cyclone as another calamity in the next couple of months is forecasted. However, it might not be possible for the government to provide adequate assistance to the victims. So, well-off families and corporate houses should come forward to help these unfortunate, poor and vulnerable people.

Almost all government initiatives, including building cyclone centres to save the lives of coastal people during any natural calamity, have been taken just focusing on the moment of disaster rather than working out a sustainable solution. We can take a lesson from cyclone-prone countries to plan and inspire people to build pucca houses to keep the impact of any cyclone or other calamities minimal. We must have the fittest development plans to strengthen our fight against natural disasters. The authorities concerned must take housing policy for the region and motivate able people to build storm-resistance houses. There is no scope to dilly-dally in this regard as questions of the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are involved in it.