UN Humanitarian chief praises Bangladesh's disaster preparedness

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A disaster management centre sponsored by the government of Bangladesh to assist victims of the 2008 floods. Sirajganj, Bangladesh/UN Photo/Mark Garten

"In the past 20 years it is estimated that 135 million people have been affected by disasters in Bangladesh.

But the Government is addressing this challenge head on by investing in its local communities and other countries can learn from Bangladesh."

So says UN Emergency Relief and Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos.

Ms. Amos was in Bangladesh to discuss disaster preparedness and understand how the Government has prioritized preparedness activities.

Bangladesh is often hailed as a global leader in disaster risk reduction because it adopted a series of preparedness measures following a cyclone in 1991 that killed more than 140,000 people. In 2007, when another major cyclone struck, many volunteers helped move thousands of people out of the disaster area, ultimately saving countless lives. The death toll from that tragedy was 4,000.

According to Ms Amos, "This is one of the strongest examples of how preparedness saves lives. She says preparedness doesn't have to be costly, pointing to Bangladesh's training of 25,000 community volunteers to be the first line of response after a storm or flood.

Aid organizations and the Government are concerned that Bangladesh is overdue a severe earthquake that could have a devastating impact on a city like Dhaka, where an estimated 40 million people work and where 65 per cent of the buildings could collapse depending on the severity of the earthquake.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’18″

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