Preparing for the unexpected: humanitarians build their capacity in earthquake response
DHAKA– More than 100 participants from the Government, NGOs and UN agencies gathered in Dhaka for the past three days to build their organizations’ disaster preparedness in one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.
Jointly organized by the Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Global Logistics Cluster, the disaster simulation workshop placed humanitarian workers in a real-life scenario. By examining supply chain operations in emergencies, including bottlenecks and gaps, participants gained a better understanding of how disasters like earthquakes could impact relief operations and how best to mitigate this impact.
“While cyclones, floods and landslides may pose a greater risk to Bangladesh, we must learn from the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the level of loss felt by Kathmandu, and be prepared for the unexpected,” said Md. Enamur Rahman, Minister, MoDMR.
During the workshop, participants were asked to design, fine-tune and present responses in reducing the impact of a future urban earthquake. Each team’s operational plan was evaluated by a panel of Government officials who oversee and coordinate the country’s emergency response.
“Today, the frequency of disasters has increased globally, making emergency preparedness and disaster management one of the most pressing issues worldwide,” said Richard Ragan, Country Director, WFP Bangladesh. “I am pleased to see emergency logistics stakeholders from various humanitarian, government, academic and private sector groups come together to participate in this much-needed logistics and supply-chain simulation exercise,” he added.
Bangladesh sits on a three-way junction of major tectonic plates, atop the world’s largest river delta and close to sea level. This makes it vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquake, flooding and tsunamis. The capital city of Dhaka, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, is particularly vulnerable. An earthquake here could lead to significant damage to infrastructure and a high number of casualties. The complexity of search-and-rescue efforts in a city like this poses further challenges. Preparedness, therefore, is key.
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