Dhaka, 8th May 2019: Today coastal civil society organization COAST has organized a press conference at the National Press Club, Dhaka to reflect their concern for future with the experience of cyclone Fani. The press conference titled “Refrain from hyper activism and culture of forgetting long term preparedness: Sustainable and Local Capacity is demanded” was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST. Other speakers of the press conference were Nayeem Gowhar Wahra of Disaster Forum, AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC, Badrul Alam of Krishok Federation and Syed Aminul Huq of COAST. Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST read out the position paper and Mostafa Kamal Akhanda has given welcome speech in the occasion.
Nayeem Gowhar Wahra of Disaster Forum said that, government is planning to construct seven thousand new cyclone shelters where such shelters has maintenance and management problem to ensure basic human facilitates having only 2 sq. feet area per person. This is very difficult for a person to stay there for 48 hours. So, there should be cyclone resilient housing instead of such cyclone shelters. At least 35 cyclone resilient two storied model house could be constructed with the cost of one cyclone shelter. In this case, the community people will take care of the house as well as their neighbors in need. He also said that government aware people to take preparation, but there are government departments like power and water development board hardly take any preparation in this regard. There was no electricity for 36 hours before the cyclone in Pathaghata and almost 8000 kilometers of embankment were not repaired before the cyclone as a preparation.
Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST given ten points demand in the positon paper, where major demands are (I) need to reform the weather forecasting, which is port based now and confusing for mass people and it should be specific and human habitation based, (ii) there should registration of the sea-going fishermen run by local government authorities during the cyclone period to track the missing ones, (iii) donors, UN agencies and INGOs should prioritize project to the local NGOs and local governments with long term vision to develop their sustainable capacities for disaster, and (iv) embankment in remote islands should be constructed on priority basis at least before cyclone period i.e., by March in each year.
AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC said that, while commercial FM radio stations enjoy the government policy support to have 10 thousand watt of broadcasting capacities to have huge coverage, the non-profit community radio stations have only 250-watt capacity to cover only 30 kilometers. He urged government should allow 8 existing coastal community radios who run day and night during cyclone period, should be allowed with 10 thousand watt, so that they can reach 100 km especially in the Bay of Bengal to cover small islands and fishing boats in the deep sea. He also urged to allow low cost VHF/ UHF to all fishing boats to communicate with each other during disaster.
Syed Aminul Haque of COAST said that government should take initiative to have formal studies and documentation to ascertain long term impact of such cyclones as an evidence of loss and damages negotiations, which could be placed as evidences in different global climate change forums including in UNFCCC climate conferences. Badrul Alam of Krishok Federation said that, in respect of supporting to the farmers, priority should be given to the share croppers not to the absent land owners. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, the moderator of press conference said that, government must prioritize to the climate related infrastructure along with growth related infrastructure as mentioned in Delta plan 2100. Government should not wait for foreign help in this regard, coastal people have to be protected first priority wise with local resources.