POST TIME: 7 May, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 May, 2019 12:58:46 AM
Dams needed, not relief

Dams needed, not relief

Though cyclone Fani became weak when it hit Bangladesh, the southern part of the country sustained damage, destruction of crops and deaths of domestic animals. Reportedly, when the government officials went to visit the Fani ravaged areas, the demand of the people was for dams and not just relief items. There is valid reason in the call for dams because unless there are proper structures to deal with natural calamities, any form of aberrant natural behavior will result in long term suffering for the people.

The need to make rural Bangladesh safe through proper structures, dredging of rivers, shelters plus early cyclone warnings must be made a priority. Several years ago, when UK minister for development came to Bangladesh to visit flood prone char areas, the residents said that instead of raising their homes every year to avoid the rising flood water, a permanent solution would be through dredging of the rivers. Unfortunately, local wisdom is hardly taken into account.

Consequently, development initiatives only falter and never manage to mitigate the suffering of the people. If Bangladesh plans to become a middle income country then proper disaster management needs to be in place and not just relief operation. The government is doing its share to construct dams but now the development bodies need to step in and invest in long term development instead of short term solutions which implode within a few years. As part of rural natural disaster preparedness, the government has to clearly chalk out a set of mandatory tasks which every development agency has to perform in addition to their focus area. This means that if one organsiation is working in rural women’s emancipation then it has to train women in dealing with natural disasters like floods, heavy rainfall, storms and cyclones.

As a first step, there has to be a survey to identify what certain areas require for long term safety. For too long, many development organisations have carried out boondoggle projects which either fizzled out or failed to create any visible impact. The government has to take a firm position with local administrations carrying out inspection of coastal areas to see what measures are needed.