Published at: The Daily Star, March 12, 2019
Bangladesh has been the eighth worst affected country in the world in terms of natural disasters hitting number of people in the past decade, says the World Disasters Report-2018 by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Between 2008 and 2017, some 37 million people in Bangladesh were affected by natural disasters, the report says.
IFRC and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) launched the global report, titled “World Disasters Report-2018: Leaving No One Behind”, at a programme in Dhaka yesterday. BDRCS Chairman Hafiz Ahmed Mazumdar along with other dignitaries formally unveiled it.
However, it did not specify the type and number of natural disasters the country encountered in the last decade.
The report analysed calamities like storms, extreme temperatures, floods, landslides, droughts, wildfires and earthquakes in the chapter “Disaster Trends and IFRC Insights”.
Globally, 3,751 natural disasters occurred in the last 10 years, affecting an estimated 2 billion people and damaging property worth $1,658 billion, according to the report which used “Emergency Events Database” of Universite Catholique de Louvain, Brussels.
The largest proportion (40.6 percent) of the total disasters took place in Asia, which also has by far the largest share of affected people (79.8 percent) and the largest share of estimated damages (45.4 percent), it adds.
While the data shows fewer disasters and people affected over the last decade than the previous one (9 percent less incidents and 29 percent less people affected), estimated damages more than doubled in the region — from $326.6 billion to 752.2 billion.
The report says China, USA, Philippines, India and Indonesia were the five countries most frequently hit by natural disasters in last ten years.
China and India alone accounted for 62.4 percent (1.2 billion) of the 2 billion affected people since 2008. Seven of the worst-affected countries, in terms of number of people affected, are in Asia.
The report identified five reasons for which affected people may not receive required assistance. “The humanitarian sector cannot help people if it fails to see them,” says the report.
“Some communities are hard to reach for geographical or political reasons, because of conflict and insecurity, or bureaucratic and legal bottlenecks created by affected states and donors alike. These can all pose serious challenges to humanitarian access,” it mentions.
The IFRC’s 2019 operational plan for Bangladesh sets a budget of $5.5 million to reach 3.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, through Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, said the organisers.
Azmat Ulla, head of IFRC Bangladesh Country Office, said if the vulnerable and under-supported groups discussed in the report are to be identified, reached, understood and supported, the international humanitarian sector must invest in local and national actors like BDRCS.