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By Francoise Jacob, UNOPS Director and Representative of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives and Stefan Kohler, UNOPS Principal Engineer
Are we creating the perfect conditions for a dramatic disaster to happen?
Torrential rainfall, extreme flooding and massive landslides have claimed more than 200 lives in Sri Lanka over the past few days. Property and livelihoods were destroyed or damaged, with devastating consequences for more than half a million people. Cyclone Mora formed while leaving the shores of the island.
A few days later, thousands of kilometers to the north in Bangladesh, a million people found themselves in Mora’s path. With high winds and heavy rain the cyclone destroyed hundreds of homes, particularly those of the most vulnerable. However, only a few lives have been lost as Bangladesh successfully put in place strong preparedness mechanisms.
In both countries, authorities rushed to provide emergency services, through their national networks, and often with foreign assistance. People died while trying to rescue others. Besides the lives lost and the high cost of the response, the consequences of such disasters are far-reaching. There are significant impacts on economic production, the social and mental welfare of people, the integrity of the environment and of the ecological services it provides.