Transforming disaster response in Bangladesh
Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, is well known for its longest natural sandy beach in the world. The climate and topography, however, expose local communities to multiple natural hazards every year.
Vulnerable communities have long endured the impact of cyclones, landslides and flash floods. In June this year, the floods added to the devastation of the low-lying coastal areas, leaving over seven million people without food or shelter. With these recurring extreme weather events, there is a greater need to strengthen emergency preparedness measures in the region.
Since 2013, the program for Strengthening Emergency Preparedness and Resilience in Bangladesh (SERB), under the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) has been working with the national authorities to achieve an integrated approach to emergency management at national, sub-national and local levels in Bangladesh.
SERB focuses on building the capacity of health facilities and community volunteer networks through training, safety assessment and emergency planning. In July, the program conducted training and workshops to enhance disaster resilience in the region.
Upskilling instructors for safer hospitals
The Hospital Preparedness for Emergencies (HOPE) course upskills the medical and non-medical staff of health facilities to respond to disasters while continuing their day-to-day operations. To ensure sustainable adoption of the course, developing trainers is essential.
SERB supported the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) in conducting HOPE training for instructors from 2nd – 6th July 2022. One of the key purposes of the training is to hone the classroom management skills of the instructors to conduct disaster response training. 19 HOPE graduates from Rangamati, Bandarban and Cox’s Bazar participated.
Assessing and planning for emergencies
SERB has customized Hospital Disaster Safety Assessment (HDSA) and Hospital Emergency Response Planning (HERP) tools for Bangladesh, to assess the vulnerabilities in the health facilities in managing disasters and develop a mass casualty plan, to address these gaps.
From 20th-22nd July 2022, ADPC partnered with the Directorate General of Health Services, under SERB and held HDSA and HERP workshops at Chakaria Upazila Health Complex, with 24 doctors, nurses and other non-medical staff from the health facility.
Drawing inspiration from WHO’s Hospital Safety Index (HSI) tool, these tools are designed to meet the requirements of primary, secondary and tertiary hospitals in Bangladesh.
Community-led disaster response
Along with stronger health facilities, SERB seeks to enhance the capacity and strengthen the network of urban community volunteers in the country. The program supports Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) to conduct Advanced Refresher training for its volunteers.
In July, FSCD conducted two sets of refresher training at Pekua, Chakaria, Ramu and Moheshkhali fire stations. The training equips the volunteers in search and rescue operations and techniques and introduces them to the use of equipment in the process.
Multi-hazard approach to resilience
Understanding the risk of multi-hazards in the Cox’s Bazar region, the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) and Deputy Commissioner’s Office, Cox’s Bazar and ADPC jointly organized a Multi-Hazard Emergency Operation Planning (MHEOP) Workshop on 27 July 2022, under the SERB program.
MHEOP is a comprehensive emergency plan which addresses emergencies with a multi-hazard approach. The plan supports the adoption of national guidelines and the Standing Orders on Disasters 2019 on emergency management.
These interventions, with the direct involvement of health facilities and community volunteers, are aimed at reducing the risk to life and livelihoods for communities in the vulnerable regions of Bangladesh.