International community must stand by Bangladesh
The international community should stand beside Bangladesh to help it tackle the climate-change impacts, Special Representative of UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom said yesterday.
Wahlstrom said, “They [the international community] should not think that Bangladesh alone can tackle the challenges. Scale of it is very large.”
The global community is concerned and that is why she is visiting Bangladesh to learn about the realities on the ground, she said.
Wahlstrom said she would take a message to Geneva that Bangladesh was characterised highly vulnerable to disasters but the people were also well known for their resilience.
She was speaking to journalists during a visit to a disaster-resilient habitat project at Bainpara of Dacope upazila in Khulna where cyclone Aila-affected people were staying.
Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) in partnership with local NGO Sushilan and with support from the UNDP, UKaid, European Union, Norwegian Embassy, Sida, and Australian AID, has been implementing a pilot project there.
During a meeting held there, members of local disaster-management committee said salinity of water and soil had been a huge problem for them.
Agricultural productivity plummeted with farmers growing only one crop a year. Their livelihood options also declined and many of them were exploiting resources of the Sundarbans.
Wahlstrom, who is based in Geneva, said she was convinced that climate-resilient houses, stronger and higher embankment along the coast, alternative sources of income could in many ways help address the climate-change impacts.
Not only agriculture, but also seasonal migration to townships, manufacturing industries in the urban centres could help generate employment for the poor, she said.
Bangladesh's economic growth is strong and the government is trying hard for sustainable solution, said Wahlstrom, adding that things, however, were not going to change overnight.
On the challenges that Bangladesh faces in tackling climate-change risks, she said the aspiration of Bangladeshi people was very high and they were quite impatient and want things done quickly.
Bangladesh government should engage people, have dialogue for better understanding of the issues and for better solutions to the problems, she said.
Wahlstrom responded in the positive when asked if Bangladesh had resource shortages but she said not everything could be done with money.
“See, 70 percent of Bangladeshis use mobile phones. Almost 100 percent children are going to schools. Could you think about it 10 years ago?” she said, adding that Bangladesh has a bright future but the efforts must continue.
World Food Programme Representative in Bangladesh Christa Rader, Disaster Management and Relief Division's Secretary Aslam Alam, CDMP National Project Director Abdul Qayyum, UNDP Deputy Country Director Robert Juhkam, UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Asia-Pacific Regional Proframme Officer Madhavi Ariyabandu were also present at the meeting.