APDC2002: Abstract

Community based Disaster Information Management System: perspective Bangladesh.

The most efficient and effective disaster preparedness systems and capabilities for post-disaster response are usually provided through volunteer contributions and local authority actions at the neighborhood level. Specific actions are also needed at the appropriate level of local government, in collaboration with NGOs and private sector enterprises working in close coordination with community participants, for disaster preparedness and capacity development with rapid implementation plan.

Active participation of local communities is essential for successful disaster reduction policy and practice. Vulnerable communities in developing countries have experience and resources to prevent losses from disaster. Communities are rich in experiences of coping with natural disasters both in preparedness and emergencies. Being knowledgeable about their own environments, often they would be able to predict on untoward incidents.

Community based disaster preparedness and mitigation activities are found to be the most effective ways of reducing disaster vulnerability. The first line of disaster response is at the local level, where simple planning and preparedness measures can substantially reduce the impacts of natural hazards.

With the vast territory, huge population and similar geoclimatic conditions, Indian sub-continent is exposed to common natural calamities. Located in the same basin, Bangladesh also suffers extensive losses of lives with severe damages to property and crops in repeated disaster occurrences. During the past 21 cyclones in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh and India) 1.25 million lives have been lost (BMTPC 2001). Bangladesh has one of the highest vulnerability index to natural disaster.

The major natural disasters that effect Bangladesh are cyclones, floods, riverbank erosion, tornedoes, droughts and earthquakes. The CERD Disaster Database lists 93 disasters over the period 1986 to 1995. Of these, 40 were cyclones and 31 floods. The cyclone disasters in 1970 (300,000 dead) and 1991 (138,000 dead) are among the worst natural disasters in the world (CRED, 2002).

At the national level, several government ministries and agencies are playing increasingly crucial role in the overall disaster management system. Over the years NGOs have flourished and virtually grown into a mass movement. A wide range of community-based disaster preparedness activities are being implemented mostly by NGOs.

With the advent of information and communication technologies, there has been increased demand of ICT based disaster management system at the national, regional and local platforms. National level forecasting for cyclones and floods are managed by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and Bangladesh Water Development Board. Interactivity among these organizations and dissemination of information to the local level at the earliest possible period with minimum time delay would strengthen the disaster preparedness programmes. This would also put impact on livelihood of rural communities by mitigating losses during natural disasters.

Incorporating electronic communication media and existing information backbone a disaster management communication network can be formed in collaboration with agents involved in disaster preparedness at remote locations. Utilizing regional set up of the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) of Bangladesh, a database resource can be superimposed on the geographically distributed database servers. A web site containing data and information on disaster plans can assist in mitigating damages in the event of disaster. Information on recovery techniques can be accumulated in the database with link to other available resources.

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