“This time, we were prepared” – disaster risk reduction in Bangladesh

With provision of cash payments based on extreme weather alerts, people can get themselves and their possessions to safety

With provision of cash payments based on extreme weather alerts, people can get themselves and their possessions to safety, © German Red Cross

08.11.2017 - Article

Floods, cyclones and failed crops: millions of people around the world are  suffering from the effects of climate change. That is why the Climate Change Conference in Bonn is also focusing on disaster risk reduction. Bangladesh is an example of what successful prevention strategies can look like.

Bangladesh: getting ready for monsoon season

Bangladesh is already today confronted with the effects of climate change. In 2016 and 2017, heavy monsoon rains caused severe flooding in the north of the country. However, unlike previous years, the disastrous effects were reduced thanks to good preparation. “This time, the Red Cross and Red Crescent provided assistance already before disaster struck, by warning us that floods were coming,” says Kajla Sariakandi from Sirajganj District. “They gave us some cash ahead of the flooding, so that we could pay transport costs for getting us to safety. We were also able to save our seeds and livestock in time. This greatly reduced the effects of the flooding for us, compared to the past years.”

Annual number of natural disasters has doubled

Natural disasters are becoming more and more frequent, with the annual number of disasters doubling over the past twenty years. Climate change is not only increasing their frequency, but also making them more severe. Floods, storms and landslides are causing enormous damage and pose great challenges in particular to the populations of less-developed and unstable countries and regions.

Germany’s efforts towards disaster risk reduction

Bangladesh is an example of the effects of climate change on threatened populations. Recurring and ever more severe flooding during monsoon season often leads to humanitarian emergencies. People in the affected areas are then cut off from the outside world. Food supplies run short, and there is a lack of clean water.
Germany is working to promote the strengthening of disaster risk reduction strategies around the world, so that people in threatened areas are better prepared to face natural disasters. In Bangladesh, the Federal Foreign Office supports a project of the German Red Cross through which, based on extreme weather alerts, aid efforts get under way before natural disasters strike. The project includes providing small cash payments to threatened populations in areas that are affected by such crises. Thanks to this preventive strategy, Kajla Sariakandi was able to evacuate herself and her possessions ahead of the disaster.

Displacement due to natural disasters

Some of the most important present-day humanitarian challenges are displacement and forced migration due to natural disasters. For humanitarian reasons, it is therefore crucial to fight the disaster and climate-change-related causes of forced migration. At the same time, early action must be taken to mitigate humanitarian emergencies caused by forced migration. Moreover, Germany is campaigning for effective measures that protect people who are displaced due to natural disasters or the effects of climate change.

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